Cui Fei - Manuscript of Nature V (2002)
JMW Turner, Sunset on the Coast, c. 1820-30
Paul Klee - The Bounds of the Intellect (1927)
Vilhelm Hammershøi, Sun over the Sea, circa 1902
Constantin Brancusi, Endless Column, circa 1938.
Târgu Jiu, Romania.
THE DAILY PIC: This is the trace of Marcel Duchamp’s heartbeat, recorded 48 years ago today by a doctor named Brian O’Doherty, better known by far as a critic and conceptual artist (often under the pseudonym Patrick Ireland, assumed in honor of his homeland’s struggles with England). The heartbeat is on display in a lovely little survey of some of O’Doherty’s output, shared between Simone Subal gallery in New York and a nearby gallery called “P!”
Duchamp’s EKG is one element in what went on to become O’Doherty’s 16-part “portrait” of the great Dada artist, which also includes a kinetic light sculpture that seems to reproduce the oscillograph trace of Duchamp’s heart actually beating. (That piece is also at Subal’s). And the composite portrait is evidence of a precariously balanced love-hate relationship that O’Doherty had with its subject – the relationship all ambitious artists have with their most important forerunner.
Duchamp once said that “after twenty years [artworks] are finished. Their life is over. They survive all right, because they are part of art history, and art history is not art. I don’t believe in preserving, I think as I said that a work of art dies.” In his portrait, O’Doherty self-consciously set out to prove Duchamp wrong, by making a piece that would keep the Frenchman’s presence and legacy – and heartbeat – “alive” wherever and whenever the portrait is shown. “I’ve made Duchamp live 250 years; It’s very cruel, but he deserved it,” O’Doherty told me after a talk that he gave at Subal’s. But of course O’Doherty’s cruelty is also a gesture of absolute homage, from O’Doherty to a genius – and a friend – upon whom he wished endless life.
It has often been said that a fine portrait confers as much immortality on its maker as on its sitter. But the question here is whether we are contemplating a portrait of Duchamp or by him – drawn in fact with each beat of his heart. We sometimes come across someone whom we bill as an artist through and through, in every fiber of their body, and maybe here we’re seeing Duchamp prove that he’s one. (Image – margins cropped for clarity – is courtesy the artist, P! and Simone Subal Gallery)
Philip Guston, Painters III, oil on canvas, 1960
why not merely the despaired of
is it not better abort than be barren
the hours after you are gone are so leaden
they will always start dragging too soon
the grapples clawing blindly the bed of want
bringing up the bones the old loves
sockets filled once with eyes like yours
all always is it better too soon than never
the black want splashing their faces
saying again nine days never floated the loved
nor nine months
nor nine lives
if you do not teach me I shall not learn
saying again there is a last
even of last times
last times of begging
last times of loving
of knowing not knowing pretending
a last even of last times of saying
if you do not love me I shall not be loved
if I do not love you I shall not love
the churn of stale words in the heart again
love love love thud of the old plunger
pestling the unalterable
whey of words
of not loving
of loving and not you
of being loved and not by you
of knowing not knowing pretending
I and all the others that will love you
if they love you
unless they love you
The artist should never contemplate making a work of art that is about something; a successful work of art can only ever be about nothing. The artist’s complete negation of intent thus creating a reflective surface into which the critic, curator or collector can gaze and see only himself.
L’image Du Monde, Goussin de Metz, 1245.
Bibliothèque Nationale de France
Proloog, Raoul De Keyser, 2003
Oil on canvas, 55 1/8 x 39 3/8 inches (140 x 100 cm)