A Cubist from California (with wit)

At the Museum of Modern Art is an exhibit of modern abstract painters, the first since an epochal show from l958. It's called The Forever Now.

The title hints at the problem facing the painters in the show: what can be painted that hasn't been painted before?

Or, as Peter Schdjeldahl puts it in The New Yorker:

The ruling insight that [curator] Hoptman proposes and the artists confirm is that anything attempted in painting now can’t help but be a do-over of something from the past, unless it’s so nugatory that nobody before thought to bother with it.

This is a problem that comes up in other art forms, of course, and Jeff Tweedy of Wilco has often written words to the same effect, as in Someone Else's Song:

I can't tell you anything you don't already know.
I keep on trying, I should just let it go.
I keep on singing, your eyes they just roll.
It sounds like someone else's song from along time ago.
You already know the story and the chords are just the same.
You already know I love you, and I sound like what's-his-name.
But you can't stop me, I want you to know.
I know it sounds like someone else's song from along time ago.

Regardless, many of the paintings in this show use old techniques to new purposes. Here's my favorite, from Nicole Eisenman (who doesn't always employ this technique, by the way):


I saw it and couldn't help but laugh: a Cubist from California! 

Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

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