Saturday, April 10

Looking for an Hour

The Mill 1947 Max Beckmann
Thursday night James Lavadour gave a talk about Max Beckmann's The Mill at PAM. These artists talks have been happening every Second Thursday of the month and I'm just getting around to seeing one. I just found Podcast highlights from past talks too (the Hayes one I had meant to see).

The best part of the talk for me was the unusual chance to stand in front of a painting for an hour. Sometimes I give something a few minutes. It's those minutes that give you a fresh feeling when you exit the museum. In my studio I often look at things for hours - days - but its more grueling, self-depreciating kind of looking. Or sometimes I wander a museum trying to greedily have those experiences over and over. But usually there's only one in each visit.

James Lavadour (via LLOSO)
I wish I could say I walked away with some sort of appreciation for Beckmann that I didn't already have. I didn't. It really was more like a talk in front of Beckmann's painting. And the experience in this case was simply being treated to a discussion, while trying to figure out Beckmann's agonizingly dark and labored line work. Lavadour did have some interesting anecdote about why he chose the painting: he apparently never liked Beckmann but began appreciating him after a friend of his and Gordon Gilkey showed him the artist.

Lavadour tends to lean too much on the spiritual side for my taste. But considering his background, I don't think his talk about "the cosmos" is all that uncalled for.

At the end of the night though, prompted by a question about painting or doing things while walking, he said something to the effect of (paraphrasing here): "I sometimes might, but you don't really need to. When you walk your absorbing everything around you anyway. The bumps in the ground, the air - you're remembering everything even if you don't realize it."

UPDATE: Here is an edited video of Lavadour's talk. But it doesn't cover his question and answer period. That's where I think he really got talking.

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