Monday, 19 April 2010

New! 'Everything Must Go' at Art21

Read a long piece on art and corporate patronage, via Rothko, Rubens and Mehretu, here.

Poetry Corner (2): Rainer Maria Rilke

Archaic Torso of Apollo

We cannot know his legendary head
with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,

gleams in all its power. Otherwise
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
to that dark center where procreation flared.

Otherwise this stone would seem defaced
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
and would not glisten like a wild beast’s fur:

would not, from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Poetry Corner (1): Michael Robbins


Praise this world, Rilke says, the jerk.
We’d stay up all night. Every angel’s
berserk. Hell, if you slit monkeys
for a living, you’d pray to me, too.
I’m not so forgiving. I’m rubber, you’re glue.

That elk is such a dick. He’s a space tree
making a ski and a little foam chiropractor.
I set the controls, I pioneer
the seeding of the ionosphere.
I translate the Bible into velociraptor.

In front of Best Buy, the Tibetans are released,
but where’s the whale on stilts that we were promised?
I fight the comets, lick the moon,
pave its lonely streets.
The sandhill cranes make brains look easy.

I go by many names: Buju Banton,
Camel Light, the New York Times.
Point being, rickshaws in Scranton.
I have few legs. I sleep on meat.
I’d eat your bra—point being—in a heartbeat.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Bhatman Forever

Above: the painter Venu Bhat, as seen by a bespectacled person exiting a sauna

If Joseph Albers did children's book illustration, he'd paint like Venu Bhat. In each of his works, a single figure, in or out of a car, is caught mid-flight, sometimes literally - in one, a police car sails calmly across the sky like a UFO - from a huddled-up cityscape that could be anywhere in the world. On the outskirts of a city built at the fringe of a desert landscape, a figure runs from a parked ambulance. Each painting is a carefully contrived setting for a miniature drama of escape. Each has its own little spiky moment that throws its apparent simplicity off-balance. They hold you.

Monday, 5 April 2010

New! 'Battlin' Tatlin' (sorry) at Art21

Poor old Vladimir Tatlin. Having been ruthlessly picked-apart by contemporary artists, he yet again casts a long shadow over contemporary art. Anish Kapoor’s design for a monumental public sculpture for the 2012 London Olympic site, unveiled this week, is a sort of organic knock-off of Tatlin’s spiralling lattices of iron and steel. Kapoor’s signature maroon palette and bulging, squidgy forms – a catch-all code for blood and guts and sex and death and all the other big themes slapped onto the artist’s works in enthusiastic press releases – have been reconfigured into a huge spurt of latticed steel that loops around itself and culminates in a disc-like viewing platform. The sculpture – officially the ArcelorMittal Orbit, a car crash of corporate acronyms surely soon to be replaced with an architectural nickname (The Partially-Decayed Human Larynx, maybe) – will be Britain’s largest public sculpture, an accolade that sounds like an insult (like ‘Employee of the Month’) but is in fact the terms on which public commissions tend to define themselves these days, especially in the UK.

Read the whole piece here.