Monday, July 31, 2006

Notes From an Artist: The Unknown

Photograph by Peter Duhon.

"Provoke the unexpected. Expect it." - Robert Bresson, Cinematographer

Friday, July 28, 2006

Art Notes Book Club: Thoughts on Balzac's "The Unknown Masterpiece" II

Art Notes Book Club: Thoughts on Balzac's "The Unknown Masterpiece" II
Photograph by peteduhon.

Here's an excerpt from the book club that I thought was rather interesting:

"After reading Balzac's work the Gillette: the Unknown Masterpiece. I think it is noteworthy to mention a little background on Balzac and more. Balzac, I have always viewed as a pre "socio-historical case history writer" for his time. In that he was writing about the socio-cultural, class, norms and mores. Note: the following about the characters, he was of a Christan upbringing and the writer's device of the three male/artists (trilogy) and the "quasi schizophrenic" view point held at the time regarding women, in the novel's case, Gillette, who was admired for her beauty, yet to reveal her truth was to lead to her shame. Yet, be shared as a model for the benefit of the artists to gain entrance to Master's studio-obviously his intentions were not altruistic. While Gillette deals with the issues of being a female model within the artists viewing her in absolute/extreme ideas of honored, shame, revered and downcast etc. I feel Balzac did an excellent portrayal of the 'mindset' during the time regarding women, and also the stigma in viewing a master or demon possessed creative artist. To this day there appears to remain these mindsets in stigmatization(s) within our post modernity global society of creative-ness and as well and the ideals of truth and beauty and 'expressing' it within female/nature forms." - Judy, Florida, U.S.

Thoughts on The Scope Art Fair in the Hamptons

The Scope Art Fair in the Hamptons

Several times during the weekend of the Scope Art Fair, I visited the booth that housed this emotionally sad painting by Francisco Guerreo. I literally had to ask myself why I was so attracted to this painting. Was it the quality of the work itself or was it the lovely, pleasant and knowledgeable art dealer who had brought this painting to Scope? Perhaps a little bit of both. Marcel Duchamp often sang to the art world sometime ago that context is a prevailing element in the preception of art. But that's another story entirely, although a valid point to our discussion.

My experience with that art dealer embodies my personal weekend at the Scope Art Fair and my discussions with her serve as a roadmap for anyone dealing with art and especially contemporary art. To appreciate any painting, there needs to be a willingness to engage with the art. One should never be afraid of asking questions to the dealer or even the artist if they are present.

At the Scope Fair, most of the dealers were open to answering questions about their artists and some of the artists were there to entertain questions also. One should never assume that they can "get" art without inquiry. As with any relationship or situation, true understanding is never fully reached without asking questions..

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Art Notes Book Club: Thoughts on Balzac's "The Unknown Masterpiece"

Below is an email from a member of the Art Notes Book Club, responding to Balzac's short story, "The Unknown Masterpiece."

"I too enjoyed the story.The protagonist's struggle to make a masterpiece; the finest painting ever conceived, and unfortunately the painter Frenhofer is so dissatisfied with his work that he paints it anew, and it is seen by his friends, with disastrous consequences for all. I think what brings more depth into the story is Frenhofer's obsession/possession complex  with his sublime visions, tinted phantoms, and je ne sais quoi. I  think this quote sums it up:  Young man," Porbus said, seeing Poussin stare open-mouthed at a picture,  "don't look at the canvas too long, it will drive you to despair." -Mi, Wisconsin, US.

Here's a link to my initial response to this short story, after clicking the link, you will have to scroll to the bottom of the page and you will see the entry:

Monday, July 24, 2006

Art Notes Book Club: Tolstoy II

Art Notes Book Club: Tolstoy II Photograph by peteduhon.

Here's what I wrote to Lisa through email concerning Tolstoy's short story, The Kruetzer Sonata,
"Lisa, Thanks for the input. The book on Balzac sounds quite interesting. A must read for Balzac scholars (smile), I'm sure. Yes, it is true with the spiritual crisis, though Tolstoy didn't consider it a crisis but rather a revelation. Though I like the story, it comes across average after just finishing Balzac and even Henry James. It is also interesting that Tolstoy's art appears to suffer due not to his spiritual leanings but rather this story suffers since he allows those leanings to suffocate the form of his art, there seems to be a serious lack of restraint and tension in this story. Two qualities that are needed in any story. The main character in this story rambles and preaches in abundance which makes it quite obvious that the author is speaking frivolously through the main character. I spent some time last night with a couple of friends at a local bar on the lower eastside of Manhattan, one of whom belongs to the book club, and she simply thought the short story was "too didactic." - Peter, New York, US

Excerpts from the online Art Notes Book Club

Excerpts from the online Art Notes Book Club
Photograph by peteduhon.

Art Notes Book Club: The Kreutzer Sonata

The following are excerpts concerning Tolstoy's "The Kreutzer Sonata" from the Art Notes Book Club, a relatively new book club that I started not too long ago. Tolstoy's selection is actually our second read. The first book for discussion was Balzac's critically acclaimed modern fable, "The Unknown Masterpiece."

Lisa wrote:
"Hi! the book was called the "Prodigal Genius- the life and times of Honore de Balzac" by noel gerson. It was pretty interesting. his mother had an affair and doted after "henry" and paid no mind to her other children. she was also 25-30 yrs junior to her husband. Anyhow, he was older than she. found out some interesting stuff about tolstoy also...Leo (Lev Nikolayevich)Tolstoy of course was famous for War and Peace and Anna Karenina. The Kreutzer Sonata was written after his spiritual crisis in 1879 after which he preached a radical form of Christianity based closely on the original teachings of Christ himself. The Kreutzer Sonata is Tolstoys most notorious story dealing with jealousy and adultery also a serious condemnation of the mores and attitudes of the wealthy educated class. The Kreutzer Sonata is a study of jealousy as well as a splenetic complaint about the way in which society educates young men and women in the matter of sex. just a little bit of trivial trivia. take care and talk to you soon." Lisa, New Hampshire, US

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Scope Art Fair: A Far Away Place II

Scope Art Fair: A Far Away Place II
Blog posted by peteduhon.

I appreciated the artists shrewd use of crimson red, directing the viewers attention to the child with the women's clothes and the action of her body. The crimson red works perfectly against the sepia tone background which gives the painting dimension and depth. A spellbinding tension is created between the detailed foreground and the soft, muted background.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Email Response to Hamptons Scope and Art Comments


Here's an email I received this morning:

"Hey, I loved the that art work, I could definitely have the painting by Sadie Weis in my home.  I also like the one that was called "far away place" or something like that.  That was cool.  Nice info." - RP, Baltimore, Maryland

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Scope Art Fair: Sadie Weis

The Scope Art Fair: Sadie Weis
Painting by Sadie Weis.

The pictures here pulsate with rhythm due to the draping cosmic energy flowing throughout the canvas here. Looking at these paintings together, one clearly begins to see the language that she has astutely developed to create the desired effect. I looked at these paintings rather closely for several minutes and noticed several things. The aspect that I will mention briefly is that the colors in this painting are extremely tempered and muted which I am not sure if that aspect comes across via the Internet. The mystic quality of the sublime comes across clearly though, albeit with profuse energy.

The Scope Art Fair: Sadie Weis II

The Scope Art Fair: Sadie Weis
Painting by Sadie Weis.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Scope Art Fair: Nathan Ritterpusch

Scope Art Fair: Nathan Ritterpusch
Originally uploaded by peteduhon.

An example of the "expressive line" as oppose to the representational line. The distortion here is similiar to the distorted view that you would see when pausing a VHS tape. These pictures are taken from photographs from the 50's. Though the paintings were completed recently. These women are much older now. Thus the title of the painting(which is part of a series of paintings), "old enough to be my mother." The paintings also deal with such issues as the distortion of history and abuse.

Scope Art Fair Blog Postings

Scope Art Fair Blog Postings
Originally uploaded by peteduhon.

Here at the Scope Art Fair in the Hamptons and I'm just glad I made it. I am extremely thankful to Scope and particularly Sadie Wies and Helen Brown for granting Art Comments a press pass for the event.

I have also decided to provide live coverage of Scope. Check back every other hour or so for frequent updates and to read my thoughts about the fair. Visit their website also at

Check back here at Art Comments this weekend to get the live coverage.

Scope Art Fair: Painting a far away place.

Scope Art Fair: Painting a far away place.
Originally uploaded by peteduhon.

After speaking with one of the members of the gallery that is displaying this piece, they mentioned that this picture is a painting of a dream or at least based on one.

Friday, July 14, 2006

The Scope Art Fair in the Hamptons: Matt Haffner

Painting by Matt Haffner.

This picture remains me of the recent film A Scanner Darkly.

Visit the gallery website at

Scope: Paper Moon, Matty Byloos

Scope: Paper Moon Marty Byloos
Originally uploaded by peteduhon.

I've written before about "form" here on Art Comments and here is the perfect example of an awareness of form and the deconstruction of it.

Hamptons: Scope Art Fair

Hamptons: Scope Art Fair
Originally uploaded by peteduhon.

Vacation and Art Comments

I will be away for a short work vacation this weekend and I will resume my regular blog posting here on Art Comments on July 17th.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Part II: My thoughts, Brad Mehldau and Carnegie Hall

Brad's understanding and mastery of musical langauge and form allows
him to create music that is both fun and engaging. But more
importantly, as seen on June 20th at Carnegie Hall, music that
reflects the Sublime.

(Editors note: The thoughts presented in this blog were given as a
lecture to two gentlemen from Germany who presented me with the
question directly following his piano recital at Carnegie Hall: "What
separates Brad Mehldau from other pianists?"

The posts here (Part I and II) is a small excerpt from my discourse
to these two gentlemen that took place informally on the street corner
of 57th and 6th avenue.

Interestingly enough, in the liner notes of Brad Mehldau's new album
entitled "House on a Hill" he mentions form in the 2nd paragraph of
essay. I simply just opened my mouth wide and said "wow!" I was right
with my assessment that Brad takes the matter of form seriously,
though this doesn't make me a genius. I didn't even finish reading his
essay since I wanted to post my own thoughts here on Art Comments
first about Brad and this subject of form since it was actually
something I stressed and something I spoke about precisely on the
night of the performance.

My observations come from listening extensively to his recorded
output, much of which I own, hearing him live on several occassions
both in the context of solo and trio, reading some of his past
writings and even from a brief but deep discussion with him regarding
music and philosophy. Finally, I will now read the notes written in
his new CD!)


Part I: My thoughts, Brad Mehldau and Carnegie Hall

The master of form. Listening to Brad at Carnegie Hall, it was quite
clear that that he has delightfully mastered form. The ability to
arrange and rearrange, construct and deconstruct, the familiar and the
unfamiliar. The integral quality that serves as a signpost to the
identity of Brad Mehldau is his relentless pursuit to understand and
master form.

No matter the genre: classical, blues, jazz, rock, funk, Brad Mehldau
has extensively(and I'm sure continues to investigate) studied the
masters in each respective genre which is evident during his piano
rectials where he often juxtaposes different idioms within the recital
and often times within a song. One example from the night at Carnegie
and found on his album, Day is Done, would be his rendition of "Martha
My Dear." It is as if Brad studied personally with Bach. The genius
and sensibility to understand the formal architecture of compositions
written over a hundred years ago by Bach and combining that with a
modern Beatles tune is sheer brillance. Another example from the night
would be when he played a very classic slow jazz tune and by using the
device of a medley went straight into performing RadioHead's "paranoid

But the two key points from the examples above and many others would
be one the mere "attempt" of using an encyclopedia of personal
musical knowledge to create something that is new, fresh and modern.
The other key element, and both are needed to cement a place in the
pantheon of solo piano, would be the aspect of accessibility. If its
too eccentric and too intelligent, its virtually worthless and self
indulgent. If it is only accessible without depth, its just another
song without any lasting, transcending value. A temporary song much
like the temporary job, good for the moment but nothing to tell your
grandchildren about.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Levels of Engagement

ORDINARY experience is often infected with apathy,
lassitude and stereotype. - John Dewey

Friday, July 07, 2006

Frank Simone and The Story

I met Frank Simone several days ago at a reading were I heard him tell what I thought was a brutally honest story. Needless to say, speaking with him for the first time after his reading, he told me to come and hear him again at a place called Tribes( I will provide website link later), located here in Manhattan, where he would really tell a story, a story, story of sorts. Well, about two nights ago, I heard him tell that story, a story that I will never forget.
What's the story about? Well, that's another story and you have to come back to Art Comments to hear more(smile).


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Alphabet City Poetry Reading

I'm here in the lower eastside of Manhattan at a 'reading' in
someone's backyard to hear the venerable Frank Simone.
More later.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Standing Alone: The Bard and The Photography Book Store in Manhattan

A Solo Affair

After attending an amazing poetry reading which featured several great poets/prose readers, and the master Bard, Jane Ormerod, I literally stumbled upon a what seemed to be just a great art-house bookstore. After looking through several of the fine art books at the store, I spoke briefly with the owner, David Strettell, who was quite friendly and knowledgeable about lower east-side Manhattan and its surrounding real estate, fashion, and art culture. He mentioned a rather unique fact, his store, Dashword Books is the only stand alone photography store in Manhattan dedicated solely to photography. The address to this boutique bookstore is 33 Bond St. NY, NY 10012.

Prior to visiting the book store, I attended a poetry reading at the Bowery Poetry Club, thanks to an invitation from Jane Ormerod, a London native of 20 years. There were several poets/writers who shared their work and often they shared extremely personal and graphic stories. The cleverness and depth of Jane Ormerod's presentation, both challenged and mesmerized the audience. Descriptive yet judicious and yet seductive is how I would describe her word choice and its affect on everyone in the audience. She has a command of word selection, rhythm, and pitch. Here's a couple of her lines from her reading which I wrote down. These two lines come from the prose reading entitled Spellbound:

"vocal tones tipping wires"
"don't take your eyes away, I must see you blush my name" - Jane Ormerod

An event I will not forget.