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Entries in alex carnevale (147)


In Which The Artist Inhabits His Studio

Studios of the Damned


There are two kinds of painting, hard and soft, with and without the discipline of an imposed dimension. Painting is very difficult. The good painting is the solution of all these difficulties and differences of space, tactile value, and color. Strange how in parts of the world where there is stone you have sculpture, and in the countries of light you have painting.

- Georges Braque

cezanneThe photographer Alexander Liberman, for his 1960 book The Artist In His Studio, ventured to collect an appraisal of the art and person of the major painters working at the time, beginning with the deceased Expressionists. There is something almost sociopathic about the result, like reading a yearbook of a senior class that never matriculated.

braqueThe resultant grand masters are a bickering, incredibly arrogant group of stunted individuals. Braque in particular sounds like a tremendous asshole. The men of The Artist In His Studio are compulsive, egocentric, and wittily urbane, to whatever degree befits their paintings.

This is the opposite problem of most. Usually you have to overlook how horrid's someone's art is so you can respect them as a person. The studio itself, in Liberman's photographs, becomes an explanation for the malformed behavior. It is the idealization of all hoarding, of all self-representation.

pupkaAn artist is rarely a success in life. It requires the sacrifice of one's art, to whatever small or large extent, to perfect the day-to-day events of life. Although I had to drop Logic because my professor looked like a golem and there was warranted fear over whether or not I'd pass the exam, it follows that if someone has a great relationship with a loved partner or partner, they probably can't put together a sentence or landscape canvas.

bonnardLiberman's visit with Picasso is particularly revealing in this context. Picasso shows him a furtive series of portraits of one woman. He comments, "You see this one. I made three of her. In the third one I dominated her, and it is the best; in the others she dominated me. Women devour you!"

Bonnard's 'The Breakfast Room'Such insights into the artist are humorous but a little jarring. It may be folly to verbalize what happens in one cortex of our brain with words from another; a charge of reductionism would be justly levied. This grand master comes off as a paranoid, obsessed mash of a human being.

matisse's living roomLiberman escaped Paris with his babysitter, who he later married. He worked at Condé Nast in the years before it became a backwards dictatorship for people who can barely read or write. He is incredibly unprepared to interact with his own idols and models. Never a gifted writer, Liberman's mastery originates in his photography and to a lesser extent his painting.

joan miroThere is a fascination with the haunted spaces of the dead. At the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam and Monet's garden at Giverny, ghosts present paintings, as if by doing so they might entrance the passerby and so become alive again.

monetLiberman writes of the scene below:

Kandinsky’s Paris studio as he left it at his death in 1944. On an easel next to his painting cabinet, which he called “my keyboard,” stands a large serene composition, Two Green Dots, painted in 1935. The two oils under glass, done in 1911, are among the first abstract paintings. The photograph on the wall is of Kandinsky, taken in 1933.

Like MTV's Cribs and that time you saw where your girlfriend's father lived, entering these private spaces seems a violation. I think we all remember the Redman episode of Cribs where we found out the guy blew his money and ended up in a two bedroom on Staten Island.

bonnard's houseIt is almost always a mistake to expect anything of anyone you admire.

the last studio cezanne built for himself in 1902Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording. He tumbls here and twitters here. You can buy The Artist In His Studio here.

"Pink Batman" - Dan Deacon (mp3)

"Snake Mistakes" - Dan Deacon (mp3)

"Trippy Green Skull" - Dan Deacon (mp3)



In Which We Relive A Dark And Dangerous Time

The Week in Review

After fighting off a hostile takeover attempt by Kraft, This Recording has moved onto greener pastures. The weeks to come will feature our year-end lists, which I generate largely from putting Lambert into a light coma and performing experimental brain surgery. Let's just hope the inside of her brain doesn't rank that weird Jim Jarmusch movie No. 1.

Enjoy these ventures into the unknown before we are absorbed by a cheesy conglomerate:

Giorgio De Chirico on his surrealist friends...

Beatrice discussed her difficult relationship with her father...

Molly Langmuir reviewed Chris Weitz' New Moon...

Alex Carnevale went to see The Fantastic Mr. Fox...

Edward Dorn's memoriam for Richard Brautigan...

The intersections of Pauline Kael and Bonnie and Clyde...

The adventures of Will Hubbard and R.V. Neuman...

Maryse Conde's youth in Paris...

Durga looked back at The Beatles' Rubber Soul...

The weird love of John Lennon and Yoko Ono...

Patrick Bateman recalled the days of Revolver...

Having a drink with Paul McCartney...

The wit and wisdom of Georgia O'Keeffe.

You can find past Week in Reviews here.

"Let the Wind Blow" - The Beach Boys (mp3)

"Can't Wait Too Long" - The Beach Boys (mp3)

"Cool, Cool Water" - The Beach Boys (mp3)

"Meant for You" - The Beach Boys (mp3)


In Which We Just Want Someone To Look Up To

In Praise of Monarchy


Despotism is the most underrated form of government, second only in its vast appeal to anarchism. Historians spend lifetimes proving what is obvious to everyone - we like powerful leaders who don't listen to anyone but themselves. A king or queen who turns affairs of state into a family matter is the best sort of despot. Since we tried to elect one, and he turned out to be a normal man, we can't let this sap ourselves of the possibility.

'i just bet the over in the MNF game little girl'Man loves to worship something, anything. At first the vast number of interviews B.O. saw fit to grant was most vexing. But then we understood his deeply wise plan to become our monarch. Barack's perpetual campaign does make some sense, although usually our leaders wait until election season to reinforce their popularity. This constant need for attention is of course the major characteristic of the most intolerable children.

In politics, ubiquity is nearly always good unless you're interested in being the governor of New York. (Everyone knows who David Paterson is besides David Paterson.) There's such thing as too much exposure, however, and it makes the ensuing celebration ring false. For example, does anyone actually believe Taylor Swift is talented? Her voice sounds like a creaky can, and she sort of looks like she was run over by a steamroller.

Princess Diana was wildly popular here in the United States. Even Elton John was astonished about how much people cared about a white girl's sad end. Her ensuing halofication was pretty abhorrent, but worse was that empty longing that the Queen Mother felt when Camilla Bowles entered the picture. The glimmer of royalty is the salve on the pathetic inadequacy of government.

Do you have any idea what vast army of bureaucrats has taken up space in the world's biggest roach motel of Washington D.C.? Feeding off the government has moved beyond skill for these people - they actually believe they're doing the rest of us some good. Find a moron who takes American politics seriously and I'll show you a person who thinks that our next Democratic president will be the first one to reduce troop levels.

not quite a brave faceYes, we're pumping more human lives into Afghanistan. If a king were handling this, we'd have the glory of a nationalistic speech and an unmistakable authority to dry our tears. Instead we just get another 60 Minutes interview and people pasting Barack's face on Lyndon Johnson's body in photoshop. I have given up on getting a better government, now I simply wish to feel better about the one I have.

Monarchy's singular advantage overwhelms all. Despite the necessary evil of increasing the circulation of the New York Post tenfold, a monarchy will honor us by eliminating all the unnecessary departments from the government. One wise person can easily do the work of hundreds of thousands of people who are probably not that bright. I nominate Warren Buffet for starters, and maybe after that Kathy Griffin just to mix it up a little.

We don't even need to find the smartest person in the world. First of all, most traditionally smart people aren't actually very intelligent at all. I mean, do you know how much money Steven Spielberg pays in alimony? Can we really trust him with our country? Our closest thing to a royal person was Alan Greenspan, who every president invested with some modicum of faith. Although that didn't work out so great, to be fair, Greenspan wasn't the culprit who made the United States into a service-based economy. We did that.

In this fashion, all negative things can be blamed on populism, and all remedies on the monarch. Aren't you tired of not knowing who to blame for society's ills? It's three words and it's the name of the asshole who did this to us: William Jennings Bryan.

Our democracy has long been a sham anyway; Mayor Bloomberg just rewrote the laws to keep lording everything over us. Democrats and Republicans continue to keep third party candidates out of the public debate. As wealth itself becomes less satisfying and power an even stronger entitlement, it will be a simple matter to buy elections. How can democracy exist when the only other option is robbing the populace like that gollum John McCain suggested? I don't want to pay for his lifestyle any more than I want the American taxpayer underwriting Barack's joyrides to hear if Chicago is going to get the Olympics. Kings demand ceremonial sporting events, they don't wait to be chosen to host them. Kings order us around because in our hearts, we'd all feel a lot more comfortable being told what to do.

Our pop culture is becoming radioactive; Barack and his stunning wife offered a return to the glamour of old. The richheads of Rome fell, too. All that becomes stagnant perishes except a monarch. For this reason, monarchy is not as staid a form of government as is commonly perceived.

In those halcyon days, power was as fleeting as a handjob or coy servant girl's attention. Government's most important quality was that it had to last, and democracies are only as stable as the kinds of people who vote in them. If one option is a guy who's more into critiquing Fox News than running this country, and the other option is Sarah Palin, I have a plan to select neither of these options. Barack's already got the hard part down. He's the best baby-kisser ever elected president, narrowly edging out Harry Truman's lascivious lips. At this point I'd rather watch him wear a Burger King crown than think about the outcome of the next election.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording. He tumbls here and twitters here.

"I Have Seen The Future" - The Bravery (mp3)

"She's So Bendable" - The Bravery (mp3)

"The Spectator" - The Bravery (mp3)