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Archives for October, 2007

difference in perception

My friend Tolla from San Francisco came visiting the Dunes. Driving to the Lakeshore, he alerted me to a hawk. At the beach, I started doing my usual thing, imaging textures of sand, water and sky


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Molotov Cocktail – II

Some time back, I talked here on A&P about image appropriation and artists re-interpreting works of others to produce newer work. This week, I found myself in Gramercy looking over works of Sherrie Levine at Nyehaus. She has made a career that involves pure appropriation and raises questions on the nature and context around her appropriated perspective of original artworks. In her works, she transmogrifies an original, sometimes iconic piece of art into a somewhat exact replica subverting some form or theme in it to produce her own works. In a world of copyright protection, Sherrie’s works seems to be an in-your-face holler which screams that a piece of art once made may be the sole property of the artist and but it is available for further manipulation, exploration and expansion as soon as it is in the public realm. Although I will not quote the exact prices for the works at the gallery, I found most of the works that were priced in six figure ranges to be sold.


Sherrie Levine, ‘Fountain (After Marcel Duchamp)’, 1991, Bronze, 14″ X 24″ X 14″

Oftentimes, I use ‘found’ images on the web. Even if I hate the use of the word ‘found’, I guess it seems appropriate for this discussion. I download them to my hard drive and let it sit and simmer for a period of time. I then permit my mind to lose/forget some of the image identifiers like who the image refers to, what was being conveyed in the image or where the image was taken etc. Three or six months later, I look at these images, re-interpret a select few in a social context that I find appropriate and paint from the image. In most paintings the contextual underpinning behind the painted face and original image do not have any parallels save the fact that the features match each other (to a certain degree). I continue to do so because the plethora of ‘found’ faces that I find online and off (magazines, books, sometimes my photographs etc.) gives me a vast sea of moods, expressions, emotions and countenances that I can then subvert to develop new perspectives (which may not have been intent of the original). Recently, I found a comment on my blog on this practice that asked me a question: “Is that right? Is this allowed?”  Even if I can glibly point people who ask me questions like this to the works of Sherrie Levine, Joy Garnett and Richard Prince, the real truth is that I am still searching for the answer. Comments?

Of course, here I am reminded of a one liner I stumbled upon online:

“Some people do, others Duchamp”.

Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa (by Tree)

In June of 1816, the ship Medusa set sail with three other ships to the Senegalese port of Saint-Louis, which had been given to the French by the British as a show of good faith to the reinstated French king, Louis XVIII. The ship held nearly 400 people, including the new governor of Senegal and his soldiers and 160 crew members. The captain was Hugues Duroy de Chaumereys, a 53 year-old man who had not been to sea in twenty-five years and had never commanded a ship before.

Wanting to make good time, the Medusa stuck close to the African shoreline and quickly outpaced the other ships. Unfortunately, it was too close to shore and inevitably hit a sandbar. Attempts were made to throw overboard extra weight in the hope of raising the ship out of the muck and floating out with the tide, but de Chaumereys wouldn’t allow the crew to get rid of the cannons for fear of angering his constituents back in France.

Raft of the Medusa, Gericault

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Which horses?

I’ve been continuing with my new project on horses, which has predictably wandered into a thicket of possibilities. I’m confident it will emerge at some point — though I daren’t say when — and when it does, it will necessarily be in some direction or other. Hopefully trailing a series with some coherence.


But at the moment, I’m taking many different kinds of pictures. The very few I’ve put on my web site are a motley and incomplete assortment, determined more by (lack of) time available than anything else. The experience has me thinking about the nature of projects.

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Ready for Halloween

That Damien Hirst is following me into my own house.

I decided to follow him a little and cook up something for Halloween, based on his diamond skull. The party store didn’t have anything in hard plastic, so I settled for a hockey mask, derived from some scary movie. I then spent too much on plastic rhinestones which I glued onto the mask during hours of granddad babysitting. It ended up like this:


Then I made a poster to hand out to treat or tricksters.
So, what are you doing for Halloween?


Male And Manhattan Architecture

Since I last checked in with Art & Perception, I’ve been exploring the synthesis of two of my most persistent obsessions: Manhattan and beatuiful men. I was partly motivated by comments on this blog questioning my lack of people in my city views and details. As a result of that, I have of late gone in a completely opposite direction.

Truth be told, I rarely enoy nude male photography, it leaves me cold. Too obvious. On the other hand the naked city in all of its hardness, rigid angles and cubist statements is to my eye powerfully masculine and quite arousing. So I wondered if I could use my camera to create some kind of visual and emotional communication between the stone, steel and glass architecture, textures and colors of my adored metropolis and the architecture, textures and colors of beautiful men.

I’m not sure I’ve succeeded quite yet, but I do feel I am on the right path. And I must confess–not surprisingly–the exploration has been great fun.

Perhaps the strangest part of this experience has been that the sexual and visual pleasure that I’ve been experiencing during this process of of exploration has been unique and extraordinarily intense in ways I had not imagined. Furthermore, the experience has given rise to intense personal feelings that I’ve not experienced during the actual act of sex. Partly, this is because–with one exception–I have not indulged in sex with my models despite the fact that one of the criteria I’ve used to select my models has been powerful sexual attraction. Limiting myself to the visual experience has opened the door on new sensations and much more powerful visual experience than I’ve ever had before.

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A bridge from drawing to painting

plein air landscape painting
Painting From Life vs. From Photos


This is a painting resulting from searching. Outlines of different figures are visible behind the man and woman whom I ‘found’ in the process. The sketching use of paint is not the way I usually work. That’s part of what makes this picture interesting to me. It bridges drawing and painting which, for me, are usually sequential and distinct processes.

I made this back in April. Now I am returning to this limited palette and exploratory form of painting.

The Dutch have an expression, “fine painter.” I loath this expression, because it tends to force an artist into a position where “fine” (as in detailed, not loaded with spontaneous dabs of paint) becomes the goal of painting. “Fine” or “coarse” are of no interest to me as goals, only as means.

Do you sometimes switch between very different modes of expression, whether in painting, drawing, or photography? Do you think in doing so you are trying to find difference approaches to the same expressive goal? My feeling is that I am doing that, that there is an unity. This is part of what makes its so exciting.

Also by Karl:

How to Store Oil Paints

oil paint tube

  1. Tube Trouble?
  2. The Greatest Invention Since the Paint Tube

How to Care for Brushes

oil painting brushes

  1. Turpentine Trouble?
  2. Storing Brushes
  3. Cleaning Brushes
  4. Shaping Brushes
  5. Transporting Brushes

Things to Ponder


  1. What is Art?
  2. How to Make Art Last?
  3. Is Art School Worthless?
  4. Why is it Difficult to be an Artist?

Frames and Framing

  1. To Frame or not to Frame?
  2. Internet as Frame
  3. In real life, the frame matters

Painting from Life vs. from Photos

plein air landscape painting

  1. From Life by Zipser
  2. From Photos by Bodner
  3. From Life by Bartman

How to Blog

  1. How to Write the Perfect Blog Post?
  2. “Bloggers have to Earn the Right to be Read”
  3. How Should Artists Blog?
  4. Can You Create in Public?