Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Out of the studio





The celestial map is finished--I cut the drawing off the board tonight. So that's a photo of it there hanging on the studio wall.

I spent the afternoon at the Met today checking out (for a second time) the Infinite Jest show. I remember a lot of my instructors from undergrad trying to push these guys off on me--Daumier, Cruickshank, Rowlandson, Nast--and I just couldn’t get into them. For some of those artists, it was a technical thing (they made marks in a way that didn’t appeal to me and what I considered "good" at the time) but trying to get the satirical content of an etching from King George the Third’s policy toward the French in 1773 . . . I just couldn’t get behind it. R. Crumb mentioned Thomas Nast in an article I read a few years back and I started looking him up on the internet--he was a caricaturist from the mid/late 19th C. here in the city, busted the balls of the Tammany Hall guys--and I just loved the shit out his drawings. (In fact, I stole the Ragbaby constellation from Nast (looky here) for the celestial map.) Amazing draughtsman. And that Crumb connection opened the door for me on these guys.

This show today . . . wow. Blooey. I understood the meanness, the cleverness, the spite, the cutting wit, and the contempt in a way that I never had before. So much delivered with something as simple as a drawing and some text. I think that--all of what I just mentioned--has been missing from my work. I mean, the intention to put it in there has always been present but I couldn’t get it into the drawings. Part of it is just the generic “illustrator-y” inclination I have when I start drawing (not wanting to get all gonzo, Ralph Steadman-y because that’s boring to me and wanting everything to have a certain reality and correctness in a way that’s pleasing to me) . . . and part of it was not really knowing how to jam all of that misanthropy in there. Allowing text into the drawings helped loosen those knots somewhat but now I can see (in some vague sense) what direction I should take. I’m not sure how I’m going to get this poison into the drawings--the text in the drawings now is still way more biting than the drawings themselves--but I am confident about knowing what I need to do.

Posted are a few photos I took while in the exhibit.

No comments: