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Schaefer · Ellen
Robert Schaefer, New York
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Weekly Work

Art And Anecdotes

(was Daily Drawing)

Entertaining · Amusing · Interesting. And Free.

Year 1 · No. 45 · Dec 4 1998

ISSN 1437-1383

289 · Red Duck

Schaefer · Julie
Robert Schaefer, New York

 

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Comment
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289 · Red Duck
 
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Comment
You know, my native language is German (information, not fishing for compliments).
  
Last week I presented No. 287 named "Whispering Ape". I announced it to several artist's lists, and KT in California wrote back:
"Have you looked at " Whispering ape? " I have, and my eye keeps wandering to the center man. Does this happen to any one else?"

No one replied, but I know. Those paintings are about the center man. Could be a center woman, too. I think the subject of these paintings is very important. And I will try to communicate it to you.

You know, art is very puzzling for most people. Most probably, there wasn't a time when art wasn't puzzling to people to some extent, but the last century surely produced some records.

  
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This confusion not only applies to the general public. I keep reading all those posts in artist's lists. Much confusion about art there, too. Somebody wrote :

"My feeling is that if you want to fancy yourself a true artist, then you must express what comes from the soul [...]"

Well, this is a nice sentence. What does it mean? To contrast my point, let's look at a public event: These days, just about everybody talks about this guy in London having received a famous prize. I have seen only one work as a small image in my email and was not impressed.

Of course, people stress the elephant dung, which plays a big role here, obviously. I also read statements defending the works apart from the dung, elaborating on technical details like layer technique or inclusion of photographs. So what?

  
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Chris Ofili, Turner Prize 1998

A couple of weeks ago, I visited the art fair at Cologne. You could see thousands of objects trying to get the attention of buyers and curators, at just about any price. He made it with elephant dung. Fine. We live in really great times with respect to art.

  
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I have been living in this world for quite some time now. I have seen lots of people doing things like that, receiving prizes, making much money in short time, being abandoned by the market shortly thereafter. Or even not, I don't care in any case. To me, art is a very personal thing and something quite different from any gimmick and trick. What can I say about art and soul? No need for dung, at least.

I am certainly not my body. Whatever "soul" means or is, this term describes better than anything else what could be meant by "I". Soul has an eternal dimension to most people. My soul talking to your soul. My 80 year old artist Anne Harris comes to mind, writing about Dragon NaturallySpeaking, a vivid mind in a feeble body:

My object in learning this voice program is to prepare myself for the time not too distant when I will be bed bound, unable to use fingers with agility---After my machine is turned on I can have it read my email, send my own letters, voice direct it to read back to me whatever is on the screen (NY Times? Newsweeks Mag?) Being in a retirement facility, I see people even older than I with still bright minds, but failing vision and other disabilities who are becoming isolated from larger life through inability to be in contact. Since I have worked on computers since 1983, I am hopeful this new technology will keep me "connected" without too much hassle. Anyway, I have always liked knowing all things avante guarde.

  
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Life has been compared with a journey quite often. Do you remember Weekly Work 38, Punch? I talked about esoteric astrology and remembered an author in that field, who used three analogies to get the point across. For your convenience and the new subscribers, I quote part of it here:

"Esoteric astrology not only tries to explain a personal life from the horoscope, but claims to show the task of an individual life. To this end, the author used three analogies. First, he explained the psychological theory of multiple personalities. Instead of assuming a one dimensional, easy to grasp personality, he rather described the person with the analogy of a stage play. All acting persons, including author and director, 12 by number, are different aspects living simultaneously in the same person. So at times you are the strong hero, then again the timid little child, and so on, and all of them at once.

The second analogy uses the image of a train. The train symbolizes your life, the starting point is your birth, and at the very start the destination is known, which is, of course, death. The train rides along, carrying with it several persons (in fact 12), which we already know from our stage play. These persons reside in different wagons, each acting independently, partly knowing the others, meeting or avoiding them.

Some passengers dream of riding south, wondering why the train rides north (or vice versa). They try to influence the train to change direction with all their power of thought and emotion, not realizing that the train will never change directions this way. Instead, the task would be to enjoy the ride, whatever the direction may be, and, most of all, get to know virtually all persons in the various wagons of the train instead of avoiding some and making allies with others."

  
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With this model in mind, it is easy to see that the center man is representing something like the "self". Notice that everybody understands something different under "self". This is not important at all. It is sufficient to have an intuitive understanding of what's going on.

Similar to the center man in " Whispering Ape", there is a center man in this week's painting. Last week I talked about nakedness. In this week's painting, all persons are obviously naked. In another list, somebody told a dream in which she was naked. This was my two cents to the thread:

"Maybe you noticed that nakedness is very common in painting (in my paintings, too). It is pretty obvious to me, that nakedness is a means to show or symbolize your very self. [...] Dreams use metaphors and know all about clothes and nakedness. [...]"

287, Whispering Ape · 289, Red Duck

The whole scene looks like a ceremony, something is likely to happen very soon, and whatever it is, it certainly happens to the center man. The situation is serious, but not dangerous.

If you project yourself to the minute you die: what will life mean? You were born and made lots of experiences which formed you. No situation was really bad, everything was necessary to get along on your way. This man accepts the rules of the game.

  
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He is going to make a serious experience, and this is what life is about. No fussing around, no going easy. Rather trying to become heavy of life. You know, some say, you will be weighed after your death, so you better make sure you are not judged lightweight.

Another quote from another list to round up this week's issue (author unknown):

= = = = = = = = =
BE THANKFUL
= = = = = = = = =
Be thankful that you don't already have everything you desire.
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don't know everything,
for it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times,
during those times you learn and grow.

Be thankful for your limitations,
because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge
because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes,
they will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you're tired and weary at the end of the
day, because it means you've made a difference.

  
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Masthead images this time by Robert Schaefer at Gallery Daguerre.

All the best 'til next time. Yours truly,
Signature Dr. Werner Stürenburg, Germany

PS:
If you have enjoyed this issue, please support my efforts and recommend it to a friend. For your convenience, I prepared both a mailto: link at the top and a Recommend-It button at the bottom.

Remember, last week I asked you: If you like the new layout better, click here, else click here. I didn't want to force you to write anything, a blank email would have been the vote. I had one answer so far from MBG, and this one was very elaborate:

I so enjoy getting these beautiful and colorful messages from you each week. The new layout, and all of the improvements that you have made over the past months, has increased my use and my pleasure in your site. [...]

Thank you very much, MBG!

  
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New This Week
Art Journal 1.10
Marc Chagall: Cattle Dealer
Being a Modern Painter

  
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Christoph Fischer

  
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