"IT HAS TO HAVE A BLOG PAGE..."
"It has to have a blog page."
...said my website designer.
"Does it really?" I said.
"Yes", she said. "All websites have blogs now. They either have blogs or they are blogs"
"Well", I said, "I remember the time when websites were things of beauty, not just an endlessly scrolling daily rant
of homogenous hip. A web page should stop at the fold."
"Oh, nobody cares about the fold anymore!" she shrieked. "There is no more fold!"
"Sorry", I said, "but that's like saying there are no more movies, only soap opera."
"Point taken" she said, "but you still need a blog page. It shows people you are current".
"Darling, I stopped being current in 1976. It was all over by then."
"Well you still have to have a blog."
"Oh, alright then, if you insist."
So here it is.
ModaPopArt's blog page. I used to build my own websites, but 2014 marked a turning point in my career in that I'm now spending more time actually creating art than advertising it, which meant it was time to cede creative control of my websites to another designer. I shall not be posting daily comments, nor, doubtfully, even monthly ones. I figure site visitors might be less interested in my opinions than my work. That's what Facebook and Twitter are for. But if anything does ever get my goat, or float my boat, I might just add it to this page, so feel free to check back in from time to time. No promises though. I'd rather be making Warhols...
...AND HIS CONTEMPORARIES
There is a certain art gallery in Rome which has no resident collections of its own, but frequently hosts headlining exhibitions of the world's great works. However, at a recent show ostensibly showcasing the portraits of Giovanni Boldini, which I attended, it seemed like only about half the number of paintings on display were by Boldini, the rest were by other artists. This was a great disappointment to me, a longtime Boldini fan who had been keenly anticipating this show. The exhibition was advertised as 'Boldini and the Italians in Paris', (‘Boldini e gli Italiani a Parigi’) and the publicity poster and flyers showed a detail from a Boldini painting of two women seated at a sidewalk Parisian café. One is thus led to assume that the exhibition is a collection of Boldini's portraits of Italian expatriates in Paris during La Belle Epoque (Marchioness Casati for example).
Indeed, an overseas tourist in Rome with only a poor grasp of the Italian language might see the advertising poster and mistakenly conclude it to simply mean something along the lines of 'Boldini an Italian in Paris', or 'Boldini, one of the Italians in Paris'. However, the true meaning of the title, and the content of the exhibition, was the works of Boldini together with four or five other (rather inferior) Italian painters who worked in Paris over the same period. Not the same thing at all as a Boldini retrospective which the publicity implied. Moreover, it seems that this has happened before at this gallery, for a friend of mine who adores Degas as I adore Boldini felt similarly shortchanged at the same gallery by an exhibition whose publicity purported it to be a Degas retrospective but in fact showed works by a selection of other artists, relatively few by Degas among them.
In the 'Boldini' show there were very few of Boldini's best and largest swagger portraits from his later period. It was mainly only a few early and rather small canvases, barely representative of his prime years at all. There was also one room taken up with a meagre selection of Parisian magazine cuttings, which although from the period and of vague relevance, really had nothing at all to do with the exhibition as billed. In any case, I had paid to see paintings, not press cuttings. Admission fee to exhibitions at this gallery is not expensive, but neither is it cheap (about 10 Euro), and one feels slightly conned.
I left feeling rather miffed and deflated, instead of having that buoyed-up, 'floating on air' feeling that one should usually have after spending an hour among the 'friends' that one's favourite paintings become. Well guys, I don’t know quite what we’re going to do about this allegedly recurring problem of misleading advertising at art galleries. And I don't know if they're doing it intentionally or not. Probably not. But in my country (Britain) we have an Advertising Standards Authority and a law called the Trades Descriptions Act, the aim of which is to ensure that any advertisement for a product or service is a fair representation of the product that is actually for sale, and will not, inadvertently or otherwise, lead customers into thinking they are buying something with qualities or features that it does not actually have.
Stupidity or ignorance of the customer is no excuse. The onus is on the seller not to mislead the customer, any customer, inadvertently or otherwise. Thus, in England, the publicity for the 'Boldini and the Italians in Paris' exhibition would be breaking the law of the British Trade's Descriptions Act by implying that it is solely an exhibition of Boldini's work, when it is not. Perhaps the gallery can be forgiven by reason of Italy not traditionally having a culture of consumer-driven fair trade, and thus no similar laws to the British Trades Descriptions Act, and a weaker Advertising Standards Authority, indeed, if there is an ASA at all in Italy. Also in their mitigation I can add that a year or two ago the same gallery did put on an excellent Andy Warhol exhibition which was packed full of some of Warhol's best and most famous works, and thus was a very satisfying show for which I would willingly have paid double the price for admission. But judging by the 'Boldini' and 'Degas' shows, I think it’s important that other art lovers are forewarned before they shell out for another ticket for dubiously titled exhibitions.
Perhaps we should make a point of asking them each time exactly WHAT they’re showing, before we buy the ticket? All I know is, I’ve never had this problem at the Tate. The average retrospective at any British gallery usually pleasantly exceeds my expectations, if not blows me away. Not so here. And keep an eye out for any other galleries around the world who are trying this new trick. If the advertising poster says 'Picasso (or whoever) and His Contemporaries', or words to that effect, get ready to be short changed.
HE HANGS A MOON ABOVE A FIVE PIECE BAND
Check out this movie clip (below) from Martin Scorsese's 'New York New York', and observe the stage backdrop and murals. My personal theory is that Scorsese was directly inspired by Joni Mitchell's song 'Jungle Line' for the set-dressing.
The scene is a perfect realisation of Joni's tripped-out description of the imaginary jazz club decorated by Henri Rousseau:
"Rousseau walks on trumpet paths,
Safaris to the heart of all that jazz…
He paints the cellar full of ferns and orchid vines,
And he hangs a moon above a five piece band."
Scorsese would actually have met Joni concurrently (or immediately before) filming 'New York New York' in 1976-77 while he was filming 'The Last Waltz' in November '76, and may well have discussed with her the idea of bringing her, at that time recent (1975) new song to life in his forthcoming movie project. I've never heard anyone else suggest this, but to me, the coincidence is too strong to discount. Scorsese is one of the more voluble directors on the subject of his work, yet to my knowledge has never mentioned this. If anyone has documented evidence of a definite Joni Mitchell connection, please let us know.