The Splenic Gaze

“The allegories of bourgeois culture do not find their truth content in an image of redeemed life, but, conversely, in an image of catastrophe. “Progress as catastrophe,” [in Benjamin’s language] therefore, is the sign under which the ruins of bourgeois civilization present themselves for decipherment to the splenic gaze of the allegorist, ‘The idea ofContinue reading “The Splenic Gaze”

“World Paintings”

“The aesthetic regurgitation of geological awfulness was exactly what Karel van Mander meant when he described Pieter Bruegel the Elder as swallowing whole mountains and rocks and vomiting them up again on canvases and panels. Leonardo’s god-like shaping hand set on the awesome mountainside now became the Fleming’s gift for making mountains palatable. For whileContinue reading ““World Paintings””

Accept That I Can Plan Nothing

  “Accept that I can plan nothing. Any consideration that I make about the ‘construction’ of a picture is false and if the execution is successful then it is only because I partially destroy it or because it works anyway, because it is not disturbing and looks as though it is not planned. Accepting thisContinue reading “Accept That I Can Plan Nothing”

To Suffer a Sea-Change

“Ultimate skill and imagination would seem to assume a plenitude in painting when the ‘earthed’ human image is compounded in the great compositions, enigmas, confessions, prophecies, sacraments, fragments, questions which have been and will be peculiar to the art of painting. …In Hannah Arendt’s beautiful introduction to Benjamin, she likens that wonderful man to aContinue reading “To Suffer a Sea-Change”