January 22, 2009

“Mapplethorpe: Polaroids”

Mapplethorpe. Untitled (self-portrait). 1973/75.

Photo: Collection of the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University, Gift of Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Used without permission.

Today, Mapplethorpe probably is best known for his lush black-and-white photographs of flowers, celebrities—and male nudes engaged in sadomasochism, which fueled debates about public funding for the arts. He produced the 97 works featured in the Block Museum of Art’s exhibition “Polaroids: Mapplethorpe” years before the controversies. But senior curator Debora Wood tells us by phone that these rarely seen instant photos—selected from more than 1,500 the artist created between 1970 and 1975—“give a wonderful sense of how Robert’s ideas formed very early on, for what would be the major themes of his work.”

In 1970, Mapplethorpe borrowed a Polaroid camera from a neighbor at the Chelsea Hotel, intending to incorporate his pictures into homoerotic collages. Soon, however, he became more interested in the photos themselves, as Sylvia Wolf explains in the “Polaroids: Mapplethorpe” catalog. (Wolf curated the exhibition for New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art.) The artist took Polaroids of Smith, Wagstaff, famous acquaintances such as David Hockney and Marianne Faithfull, still lifes and nudes. In the spring of 1972, the Polaroid Corporation began supplying him with free film and equipment through its Artist Support Program, which also gave grants to William Wegman, Chuck Close and Robert Rauschenberg.

In the exhibition catalog, Wolf admits that even Mapplethorpe took too many Polaroids “of unremarkable subjects and uninteresting stuff.” These flaws are more than made up for, though, by his knack for lighting and composition, the medium’s exciting immediacy and the charisma of muses like Smith—and the handsome artist himself. “[The Polaroids] are so beautiful, and they’re so intimate because of their small scale, that they’re very large works in their power of communication,” says Wood.

In 2007, the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation donated one of the artist’s Polaroid self-portraits (pictured) to the Block; seeing it, and the other instant photos owned by the Foundation, made Wood determined to host the Whitney’s exhibition. For her, the show speaks to the Block’s ongoing effort to strengthen its photography collection. “This is really where we see the mission of the Block Museum,” Wood says, since the museum specializes in “reproducible art forms.” According to Wood, the Block already had “an excellent number of documentary photographs,” but until the museum acquired Mapplethorpe’s Polaroid, it had “no examples of an artist using photography as an artistic means” to communicate a particular idea. To Wood, Mapplethorpe’s work symbolizes “this changing moment in the culture in America and how [it] views and thinks about photography”—a moment that occurred largely because of Wagstaff, who with Mapplethorpe’s help amassed one of the most important photography collections in the world.

The Block is making up for lost time: Recent acquisitions include a gelatin silver print by Mapplethorpe, Polaroids and other photos by Andy Warhol—all currently on view—and two photos by contemporary Iranian artist Shirin Neshat. The museum’s certainly in better shape than the Polaroid Corporation, which stopped making film in February 2008 and filed for bankruptcy in December—foundering just as “Polaroids: Mapplethorpe” proves its technology is irreplaceable.

“Polaroids: Mapplethorpe” runs through April 5 at the Block Museum of Art. To see more sexy snapshots, click here.


  1. Cindy Scroggins on January 22nd, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    Confession: I’ve loved Robert Mapplethorpe’s work for a long time, but ever since the release of Bottle Rocket, my first thought is of Bob Mapplethorpe: Getaway Driver, not Robert Mapplethorpe: Photographer.

  2. Sheila Ryan on January 22nd, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    One thing you ain’t, Cindy, is ignernt. You’re all over the place.

  3. Amanda Mae Meyncke on January 22nd, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    mmmm hurrah for both, Cindy.

  4. Phil Bebbington on January 22nd, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    I have to confess to an intense dislike of Mapplethorpe, seeing him as a fraud and ‘chancer’ – well, these are my thoughts on his later work. My opinion of him, I must confess, was strongly influenced by a biography I read years ago, about his progression into photography. I have had a dislike of him ever since – these Polaroids look really interesting, though, and from the selection that you can view here, seem to be every thing that his later work was not.

    There has always been a contrived, exploitative nature to his later work that I disliked. These have an innocence that seems more about an open mind, free, about photography. I would love to see the exhibition and hopefully lay my Mapplethorpe ghost to rest as it is very irrational and way out of date.

    I have just looked at as much Mapplethorpe as I can on-line, just to make sure that my opinion still stands (on the later nude and flower work) and it does. I still find it cold and emotionless, which takes me full circle to my feelings for Mapplethorpe the person.

    I’d still love to see the exhibition and perhaps have my mind changed.

  5. Sheila Ryan on January 22nd, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    Phil, strange though it may seem, I think that I understand what you see (and loathe) in the Mapplethorpe everyone knows. And while I’m tempted to chalk it up to a biographical reading . . . well, no matter how you come to it, once you see it, you see it.

    I’m reminded in an only slightly off-kilter way of fellow ‘flocker Andrew Simone’s intense distaste for the work of Andy Warhol.

    And I’m thinking about some of Richard Avedon’s portraits, and how they repel certain viewers, and why that might be.

    And . . . thinking that if the clusterflock book club that Lucy has proposed takes off, maybe we could jaw about visual art as well.

  6. Phil Bebbington on January 22nd, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    I think what gets me is that his images are dead, static; there is no life in the image or indeed in the subject matter. An odd statement to make about a photo, some might think.

    Photos, in my opinion, should be that moment frozen in time – you should be able to see either side even though it’s not really there. A bit like you can see the faces of the characters in a book – imagine reading a book in which the writing didn’t conjure real faces in your head. How would that feel? That’s how I feel about Mapplethorpe photos. I see nothing and feel nothing; they feel inert.

  7. Cindy Scroggins on January 22nd, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    Oh, I love this conversation! Phil, I completely agree that many of Mapplethorpe’s photos seem devoid of emotion, but that’s what I find so appealing about them. His portraits, particularly, seem to be of people on the outside of everything. They are so far outside that they’re not even really in the picture.

    I’d love to have a visual art book club selection, Sheila. That would be grand.

  8. Phil Bebbington on January 22nd, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    This is rather fine, Cindy. I do find expressing my feelings about things difficult for the most part, well, certainly in text. This one, though, sucked me right in. I guess a tiny thank you to Sheila would be in order and yeah, a visual art chit-chat would be very groovy.

  9. Lucy Foley on January 22nd, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    Yeah, I really dig that too. I really dig the notion of us sitting around chewing over a single painting. You know, really fucking getting into it.

    Phil: I fucking LOVED Mapplethorpe a few years ago. In fact, I was in Cork once, and walked into a bookstore, and found the Pistils in a big fancy hardback affair, in a box and all that, and it was something like 40 euros second hand, and I had to walk around the block once to think about it, but I bought the book. I was truly passionate about those photos. And that was before I started taking photos myself. A lot is said about the sexualisation and all that, but what I love about them is that you can feel the energy of the photographer, you can feel the energy in the room as the photograph is being taken.

    And again, this is a recollection rather than an in-the-moment impression. I haven’t looked at them in a while. I must dig out that book. It is in this house.

  10. Phil Bebbington on January 22nd, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    Lucy, it really would be great to do that, a group of us chewing over something visual.

    I find it fascinating what others see in his work and I guess it just emphasises what makes art so personal. You feel much and yet I feel and see nothing – I see the technical ability, but that can be taught, but I see and feel nothing. The static nature of them that excites many makes me feel empty.

    Still, I’d love to look at the Polaroids – they seem like something altogether different.

  11. Sheila Ryan on January 22nd, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    Say. You know? I’m thinking of exchanges Phil and I have had about Tom Waits, whom he (and many of my friends) revere. And whom I just don’t get.

    I like Cindy’s idea of one of our clusterbook selections being a collection of visual art.

  12. Phil Bebbington on January 22nd, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    Ah, Sheila – Tom Waits is about as close as I get to God!

  13. Sheila Ryan on January 22nd, 2009 at 8:16 pm

    Dang. First I went and troubled quietly simmering stock with a Mapplethorpe post, and then I had to go and fling Tom Waits into the cauldron!

  14. Phil Bebbington on January 22nd, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    Sheila, I promise not to push this down a Tom Waits road – but he’ll be back!

  15. Sheila Ryan on January 22nd, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    What? He’s not six feet under and buried?

  16. Phil Bebbington on January 22nd, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    MMmmmmmm – he’s good for a few years yet, he has to be. If he goes and pops his clogs before I see him live – I’ll have a few words to say.

  17. Barry on January 22nd, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    Mapplethorpe is not my favorite, but I think he is far from a “fraud” or a “chancer.” He was an extremely ambitious and, yes manipulative artist who took advantage of opportunities lent to him and that he created on his own accord. I think this would also describe many major figures in the art world, though. His special brand of social climbing can certainly be off putting and a glance at the documentary Black White + Gray: A Portrait of Sam Wagstaff and Robert Mapplethorpe will certainly add a perhaps nauseating layer to his appraisal. Yet, he still made the work, challenging work, that wedded the unlikely pairing of classical (almost clinical) styles with homo-erotic subject matter which simply wasn’t done in such a mainstream forum at that time. Still, for my dollar, I prefer the portraits of his contemporary, Peter Hujar.

    As for Tom Waits, I like him real well, lot of people thought that dude was a fraud when he started out.

    The guy who everyone loves, who I just don’t, is Leonard Cohen. Commence the stoning.

  18. Sheila Ryan on January 22nd, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    Barry, even though I’m the one who posted this notice of the Mapplethorpe Polaroid exhibition (which I do hope to see), I’m with you if it comes to a showdown between contemporaries who documented the same scene, more or less. I too prefer Hujar’s portraits (and push them on friends who don’t know of him).

    I’m trying to get over my Tom Waits thing, trying to see him as other than a Captain Beefheart wannabe (himself a [fill-in-the-blank] wannabe).

    But (pause | deep breath), I’m kinda with you on the Leonard Cohen thing.

    Duck and cover.

  19. Phil Bebbington on January 23rd, 2009 at 5:31 am

    Barry, you are right – his personal life and his very individual style of social climbing could put one off of him – but it really isn’t that and I don’t find his work in any way challenging – I just always had the feeling he was trying to shock and nothing more. They leave me stone cold – the only worth I find in them is that they are clean and well exposed, other than that I see nothing in them. I guess us all seeing something different and being able to talk about it, is what it’s about.

    I have to say this thread is fascinating and am prepared to take another closer look at his work. I do hope to see the Polaroid exhibition – they do seem to have a certain something. but then they seem to have been taken for different reasons.

    On the Waits/Cohen subject – I have never really got Leonard Cohen although I have to say I don’t have that much of his work – Tom Waits however, if I were able I’d have his children!

    Sheila, interesting I had never seen Tom Waits as a Captain Beefheart wannabe – I had never even considered it – I can see why you would think that and will give it some thought. Mmmmm.

    I do, for the record, dig Captain Beefheart.

  20. Lucy Foley on January 23rd, 2009 at 5:47 am

    Tom Waits has evolved so much over the course of the past 30 odd years, it’s very unusual for a musician to be still deeply interesting after, and during, that span of time. In many ways, so much moreso now than during Closing Time, for instance. You know, people think he gets those sounds because he’s drunk or careless and it’s the sound of drunk carelessness. The man is meticulous.

  21. Lucy Foley on January 23rd, 2009 at 5:50 am

    It’s four in the morning, the end of December
    I’m writing you now just to see if you’re better
    New York is cold but I like where I’m living
    There’s music on Clinton Street all through the evening

    I hear that you’re building your little house deep in the desert
    You’re living for nothing now, I hope you’re keeping some kind of record

    Yes and Jane came by with a lock of your hair
    She said that you gave it to her
    That night that you planned to go clear
    Did you ever go clear?

    Ah, the last time we saw you you looked so much older
    Your famous blue raincoat was torn at the shoulder
    You’d been to the station to meet every train
    And you came home without Lili Marlene

    And you treated my woman to a flake of your life
    And when she came back she was nobodys wife

    Well I see you there with the rose in your teeth
    One more thin gypsy thief
    Well I see Jane’s awake

    She sends her regards.

    And what can I tell you my brother, my killer
    What can I possibly say?
    I guess that I miss you, I guess I forgive you
    I’m glad you stood in my way.

    If you ever come by here, for Jane or for me
    Your enemy is sleeping, and his woman is free.

    Yes and thanks for the trouble you took from her eyes
    I thought it was there for good
    so I never tried.

    And Jane came by with a lock of your hair
    She said that you gave it to her
    That night that you planned to go clear

    Sincerely, L Cohen

  22. Phil Bebbington on January 23rd, 2009 at 6:16 am

    Lucy, I’m with you on Tom Waits, ever evolving and ever changing. I love everything he has ever recorded and he is as fresh today as he was way back. I’ll be gutted if I don’t get to see him live before he or I pop our clogs!

    Now where’s that ipod!

    Oh, the lyrics are beautiful, I don’t think that could ever be in dispute – I find his delivery more difficult. Some of his stuff I love some no so. The words though are wonderful

  23. Lucy Foley on January 23rd, 2009 at 6:36 am

    Laughin’ Lennie as he is fondly known… his songs put me in a trance, or pull my shit together, depending on the moment. His voice can be hard to take, not a universal kind of sound, but I like it. Like liquorice, Phil. However, almost always I find his music arrangements cloying or nasty. I know he uses protools a lot, and I think he has a fondness for synthetic sounds and programmed beats. I’d love to hear his shit with a sound that is as clear and urgent as his words.

    I have never heard anyone really fill the authority of those words, in cover versions.

  24. Phil Bebbington on January 23rd, 2009 at 6:47 am

    Mmmmm – did you mention Liquorice? Well, yes you did – Oh, my! Would that be with Oolong tea?

    See how easily I am distracted!

  25. Lucy Foley on January 23rd, 2009 at 6:52 am

    Strictly speaking, in the land of liquorice – denmark – it’s called lakrids.

    How about cutting out the middle man, Phil, and going directly to liquorice root tea? You can throw in some oolong there if you like…

  26. Phil Bebbington on January 23rd, 2009 at 6:53 am

    I get what you are saying Lucy, I really do – There are a few artists that put me in that sort of place and I use in that way – music always has the answer.

    Probably my favourite lyric/song, courtesy of My Morning Jacket.

    Why’s it so strange when they say that the world’s movin upwards?
    Why’s it surreal when my hands feel they cant roll the dice?
    Why’s it so great just to wake every day, alive and by your side.
    It’s a mystery I guess, there’s lots of things I cant find.
    Its not the way that you look, but your move that catches my eye.
    Why’s it so soft when the cannons unload on the others?
    Why’re we so loud when we say it wont happen to us?
    Why does my mind blow to bits every time they play that song?
    It’s just the way that he sings,
    Not the words that he says, or the band.
    I’m in love with this soul, it’s a meaning that I understand.

    It pretty much does blow my mind whenever I listen to it – I have to ration it’s use!

  27. Phil Bebbington on January 23rd, 2009 at 7:18 am

    Lucy, I do have a supply of Liquorice root at home that I use for such purposes – I am in control of it though, really I am.

  28. Cindy Scroggins on January 23rd, 2009 at 10:08 am

    If Ihad to rank the four:

    1. Tom Waits
    2. Licorice
    3. Leonard Cohen
    4. Robert Mapplethorpe

    The only one I’d fight for is Tom Waits.

    Don’t y’all be messin with Tom Waits.

  29. Lucy Foley on January 23rd, 2009 at 10:15 am

    1. Tom Waits
    2. Laughin’ Lennie
    3. Robert Mapplethorpe
    4. Liquorice

    I really don’t get liquorice. I really get Tom Waits. There is a big jump from Laughin’ Lennie to Robert Mapplethorpe.

  30. Sheila Ryan on January 23rd, 2009 at 10:57 am

    1. Liquorice (licorice)
    2. Robert Mapplethorpe/Laughin’ Lennie (a tie)
    3. Tom Waits

    I’m still thinking about those death-by-snake/death-by-bear/death-by . . . ? scenarios that Lucy put forth a while back.

    What was the third option? Death by liquorice? Death by Leonard Cohen?

  31. Sheila Ryan on January 23rd, 2009 at 10:58 am

    Lucy: I don’t expect you to understand liquorice. It’s the Dane in me.

  32. Cindy Scroggins on January 23rd, 2009 at 11:05 am

    I have never heard anyone really fill the authority of those words, in cover versions.

    What about John Cale’s cover of Hallelujah?

  33. Lucy Foley on January 23rd, 2009 at 11:05 am

    If you’ve ever tasted Danish lakrids, you’ll have found that it tastes like bleach. That’s because it’s got ammonium chloride in it. They call that flavour, salmiak. It is very weird to me, but I understand how very weird things get addictive sometimes. All things considered, I’d still rather that kind of liquorice than the weirdy weirdy sweet stuff you get in the rest of the world, anyday. Although when I was a kid, I LOVED sherbet dibdabs, which was a package of sherbet (the fizzy tart sweet shit rather than the eastern exotic beverage) which came with a liquorice thing to dip it in. You’d sort of cope with the liquorice for the sake of the sherbet. I LOVED sherbet.

    Don’t you get the feeling this thread will never actually ever ever end? Like we’ll just happily keep on meandering on topics forever and ever, and pass the flame/burden onto our children to keep alive after we have gone?

  34. Sheila Ryan on January 23rd, 2009 at 11:08 am

    An Eternal Flame.

  35. Lucy Foley on January 23rd, 2009 at 11:08 am

    Googling John Cale’s Hallelujah.

  36. Cindy Scroggins on January 23rd, 2009 at 11:12 am

    I’ve only heard one really good version by Cale–just him and the piano, straight.

  37. Lucy Foley on January 23rd, 2009 at 11:12 am

    Do we start talking about The Bangles now?

  38. Sheila Ryan on January 23rd, 2009 at 11:12 am

    Love. John. Cale.

    Even though I really only love may two-fifths of his songs.

    His “Hallelujah” is my favorite “Hallelujah”.

    Are we going to be a-ravin’ and a-goin’ on like this when we convene for the Clusterflock Book Club?

    I kinda hope so. I kinda hope we start out with some discussion of the matters on hand and then just commence to meandering.

  39. Lucy Foley on January 23rd, 2009 at 11:13 am

    Cindy: that’s the one I’m listening to right now.

  40. Sheila Ryan on January 23rd, 2009 at 11:14 am

    Did The Bangles cover “Hallelujah”?

  41. Cindy Scroggins on January 23rd, 2009 at 11:15 am

    John Cale comes before licorice. So does Richard Avedon.

    Lucy’s right–this thread will never end. We might need a spin-off blog.

  42. Lucy Foley on January 23rd, 2009 at 11:16 am

    He’s got a very human voice, it’s a very human sound, and in this world of either Jeff Buckley histrionics (that man had a beautiful voice but he didn’t understand the cold and broken hallelujah) or talent contest vocal cord diarrhoea malarkey, that is welcome relief. But none beats the Cohen version for me. It’s so fucking profound, so fucking real.

  43. Sheila Ryan on January 23rd, 2009 at 11:17 am

    Lucy said malarkey.

  44. Cindy Scroggins on January 23rd, 2009 at 11:18 am

    I can understand that. I only like the Cohen version of Famous Blue Raincoat for those very reasons. I love his raw voice. But John Cale’s Hallelujah does it for me every time.

    Also, I’m now walking like an Egyptian.

  45. Lucy Foley on January 23rd, 2009 at 11:25 am

    Googling The Bangles, Hallelujah.

  46. Lucy Foley on January 23rd, 2009 at 11:29 am

    Spin off blog! I have just had a Great Idea!

  47. Lucy Foley on January 23rd, 2009 at 11:29 am

    Sort of like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, or Frasier.

  48. Cindy Scroggins on January 23rd, 2009 at 11:30 am


  49. Sheila Ryan on January 23rd, 2009 at 11:31 am

    My first boyfriend looooved Laughin’ Lenny Cohen. He was that kind of guy.

  50. Lucy Foley on January 23rd, 2009 at 11:37 am

    The very first thing my first boyfriend did when he met me was to write out the lyrics to Suzanne for me. I was 17, and had never heard of Leonard Cohen. We were sitting in a coffee shop, and he wrote the lyrics to Suzanne out, right there in one of his school notebooks, and ripped the page out and gave it to me.

  51. Sheila Ryan on January 23rd, 2009 at 11:43 am

    A few years ago I was back in touch with the First Boyfriend. When I wrote him an email message about heading out to work on a cold Chicago morning wearing my skirt-and-stockings work get-up and a man’s beaver coat and moosehide mukluks, he flashed onto an erotic fantasy about the “Iroquois Virgin”, she who is featured in the opening of Beautiful Losers.

  52. Sheila Ryan on January 23rd, 2009 at 11:44 am

    Maybe it’s not that I am lukewarm about Leonard Cohen. Maybe it’s just that I’ve grown lukewarm about guys who are hot for Leonard Cohen.

  53. Lucy Foley on January 23rd, 2009 at 11:55 am

    This is the first time I have found an online reader that works. God he’s a horny old goat. Very relaxing.

  54. Sheila Ryan on January 23rd, 2009 at 11:56 am

    Horny old goat. I like that.

  55. Phil Bebbington on January 23rd, 2009 at 11:57 am

    I don’t know, a guy tries to get some work done and then the thread explodes! Hell, where do I start?

    1. Tom Waits
    2. Liquorice
    big gap
    3. Leonard Cohen
    even bigger gap
    4. Robert Mapplethorpe

  56. Deron Bauman on January 23rd, 2009 at 11:58 am

    John. Cale.

  57. Sheila Ryan on January 23rd, 2009 at 11:58 am

    The kind of stuff boys older than me gave me to read when I was fourteen.

  58. Lucy Foley on January 23rd, 2009 at 11:59 am

    Jesus. That was like you said ‘boo’ or something. I forgot we were in a public place.

  59. Sheila Ryan on January 23rd, 2009 at 11:59 am

    1. Liquorice/John Cale (tie)

  60. Phil Bebbington on January 23rd, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    If anything happens to Tom Waits I intend worshipping at the altar of Liquorice probably for ever – I do need Oolong tea with it really and if I’m being picky a fair skinned maiden.

  61. Lucy Foley on January 23rd, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    ” F. says that he’d never once heard of a female saint he wouldn’t like to have screwed. What did he mean?”

  62. Lucy Foley on January 23rd, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    Yes, there’s a common tea in the south of France, I think it’s liquorice and mint, maybe? Anyway, on one of my several stop trips in 2007, I was going from Aix – Marseille – Dublin and my friends in Dublin begged me to bring back this liquorice mint (I think that’s what it was) tea for them. It was everywhere. Very popular.

  63. Lucy Foley on January 23rd, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    I think you’re better off being picky.

  64. Phil Bebbington on January 23rd, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    Lucy, I think you are right – I mean . . . (pausing)

  65. Sheila Ryan on January 23rd, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    John. Cale.

    It’s a different kind of love.

    Warning: Moving image of deliquescing fox.

  66. Lucy Foley on January 23rd, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Fuck I read 8 pages of that and then it stopped! I’m going to have to buy the bastarding thing now!

  67. Phil Bebbington on January 23rd, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    That is very cool, Sheila!

  68. Lucy Foley on January 23rd, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    Great video. Reminds me of mid-period whatsisname.. Peter Gabriel.

  69. Sheila Ryan on January 23rd, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    Oh, I remember ol’ whatsisname!

  70. Phil Bebbington on January 23rd, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    Lucy, yeah in the same style as ‘Sledgehammer’

  71. Sheila Ryan on January 23rd, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    Ooh ooh ooh! What if you were to meld Cale’s “Perfect” video with Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” and you wound up with a kind of rotting Arcimboldo image?

  72. Lucy Foley on January 23rd, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    I feel like we’ve just squatted clusterflock, and you know, we’re sniffing around for a can of beans and a doobie.

  73. Sheila Ryan on January 23rd, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    I know I am.

  74. Phil Bebbington on January 23rd, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    Lucy, I kinda like the idea of squatting here and a little sniffing around, never did anyone any harm.

  75. Lucy Foley on January 23rd, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    DId ye hear about the Mayfair squatters? This group of hippie children squatted an 8 million pound empty house in Mayfair, the neighbourhood of diplomats and Old Money, and started making art projects and having babies and eating a lot of dried pasta. So they were kicked out at some point late last year, and they’ve just squatted another place, around the corner, ‘cept this one’s worth 25 million.

  76. Lucy Foley on January 24th, 2009 at 7:49 am

    I’ve just been looking around at Arcimboldo images and they remind me of Chuck Close paintings. I love his shit though I am rarely drawn to hanging around them for very long. Unlike Rothko or Bacon, both of whose retrospectives I am hoping to spend some time with in London next week, though I have not booked anything yet.

    Yes, this comment is my valiant effort to keep this thread alive, by opening new topics that in some way relate to yesterday’s. But you know, if it isn’t real, I can accept the falling away of this comment thread. So you know, don’t feel beholden.

  77. Phil Bebbington on January 24th, 2009 at 8:37 am

    I know what you mean Lucy – there is a reluctance to let this one end.

    I remember seeing a Bacon retrospective many years ago – God know where, I think it may have been at the Barbican – it was whilst I was doing work for the Royal Photographic Society in Bath. The then curator had been invited to the opening of a Cartier-Bresson exhibition there and had been kind enough to ask me along. I was very excited as the great man himself was attending! The Bacon exhibition was downstairs and so had a poke around at the same time!

    As for Rothko – I have a feeling that I may miss this – which is sad as I adore his work – they lose something in books, which I guess can be said for any work of art, but, I feel it more with Rothko – they really are best viewed as he demanded in subdued light.

    Have you read James E. B. Breslin’s biography of Rothko? I have read it a few times and enjoyed it very much.

    I did also buy a while back ‘The Artist’s Reality: Philosophies of Art’ Rothko’s thoughts edited by his son Christopher – not such a light read! I have dipped but not yet read all.

    I would love to visit the Rothko Chapel in Houston, TX.

  78. Lucy Foley on January 24th, 2009 at 8:53 am

    Well it’s finishing next sunday, Phil, and that’s why I want to go to London this time. It’s all last minute and I have a tiny window of availability next week to actually go there. I saw the Bacon retrospective in Tate Britain last September, that was delicious. Also fascinating for the people who went to see it. I actually met someone there I had met a couple of days previously, which was fortuitous.

    This is a huge retrospective (both are). These things don’t happen so easily, don’t know how often the opportunity to see something like this really arises. I felt like that at BAM a couple of weeks ago, when I went to see Sam Mendes’ version of The Cherry Orchard. Chekov is just fucking incredible. I really hope I can make it.

  79. Lucy Foley on January 24th, 2009 at 8:54 am

    You know that Rothko’s daughter had to fight for the rights to her own father’s estate, with the entire art world against her, at the age of 18? She has a crazy story.

  80. Cooper Renner on January 24th, 2009 at 9:12 am

    John Cale’s “Hallelujah” is really fine, but so is Cohen’s. I don’t go much for Buckley’s (or for Buckley in general). Both Cale and Cohen have recorded a lot of crap, but when they are on, who is better? And they think as well as feel. Cale has such a deep musical background that it really layers a work like “Damn Life” to hear him singing his desolate lyrics over a warped-out playing of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”. And then a kid like Micah P Hinson comes along and writes his own desolation, just as deep, into a new song like “Beneath the Rose”, with a voice just as broken and emotive as Cale’s and Cohen’s and a sense of musical rightness that helps him create tunes just as beautiful and just as unhackneyed.

  81. Phil Bebbington on January 24th, 2009 at 9:24 am

    Lucy – I’m really gonna see if I can get up there this week – I fear I may not, but, try I shall! It would be good to hear his daughters story, I do remember all the ‘who-ha’ at the time.

  82. Phil Bebbington on January 24th, 2009 at 9:31 am

    And of course, Cooper – for those that didn’t catch it the first time and are still wondering about Micah P. Hinson I did put up on Vimeo ‘Beneath the Rose’ set to a little section of Tarkovsky’s ‘Stalker’


  83. Sheila Ryan on January 24th, 2009 at 10:16 am

    I’ve only been away a few hours, it seems, and lookee lookee. Lucy, thank you for doing the vestal virgin thing — keeping the flame burning, I mean.

    It’s hard to know where to jump in with this. Bacon? Rothko? John Cale? Laughin’ Lennie Cohen?

    Thoughtful? Anecdotal?

    Now this is why I am looking forward to real-time Skype talk about Daryl’s book. I’d just up and holler soon as one of y’all had finished saying his piece. Or maybe even before. Sometimes I’m bad that way.

  84. Cindy Scroggins on January 24th, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    Premature holleration.

  85. Lucy Foley on January 24th, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    I fucking hope so.

  86. Lucy Foley on January 24th, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    I still haven’t gotten the book, by the way. It was posted on wednesday from brooklyn.

  87. Phil Bebbington on January 24th, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    I need to get the book, read the book, be close to a computer – EASY!

    So, Lucy – Rothko, can we do this?

  88. Lucy Foley on January 24th, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    It is a series: Lucy Meets Clusterflockers On Many Continents. So long as they are not incontinent, it usually goes well. Although of course, Lucy Meets Incontinent Clusterflockers On Many Continents has more of a ring to it.

  89. Phil Bebbington on January 24th, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    Lucy, I am in full control of ALL my bodily fluids – but, this is possible

  90. Lucy Foley on January 24th, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    Oh, Jesus.