Tuesday, December 29, 2009

More, popular in the 60's

Hieronymous Bosch images from artrenewal.org

Above is the left hand panel from a triptych now called the garden of good and evil, its original title is now lost. The sixties was very excited about Bosch, the idea was popular that he illustrated nicely the ideas of Freud. For the most part that idea has been soundly refuted, and he has come to be viewed as well with in the late medieval tradition.

Very little is known about Bosch other than that he lived from about 1450 to about 1515 in the Netherlands, which was in those days a possession of Spain. We know his father was a painter, although none of the fathers works remain. We do know that he was a member of a conservative religious organization called the Brotherhood of Our Lady.

Above the Death and the Miser.The imagery that seemed so surreal in the 60's was actually illustrations of sermons and concepts of the medieval church. The paintings are descriptions of hell and the dangers of earthly sins. It strikes me as somewhat amusing that a society that wouldn't have had a minute for a fire and brimstone speech, had such a fascination for what was essentially a painted version of the same thing. The paintings are full of bizarre and in many cases sexually unattractive (that's a nice way to put it ) images. I remember seeing posters of Bosches work in officers of college professors and others who wanted to appear smart., He was thought daring and "a difficult" artist.Without much interest in understanding the religious symbolism in the art or the ideas prevalent in the artists time it was hip to attribute to the paintings the ideas of contemporary psychology.

This painting is full of demons doing unpleasantries to their charges. There is a real nastiness to these demons and the message to the viewer is "straighten out, or this is ahead of you". The works of Bosch were often compared to a then living surrealist painter Salvador Dali. Here's one below.

and another;

Dali, a Spaniard, really did intend to illustrate the ideas of Freud. Later financial shenanigans with his estate and a general shift in interest away from Freudian ideas has somewhat diminished his popularity. There are some very impressive Dali paintings though, below is one.

I am going to return tomorrow and show several more artists who were big in the 60's. One you probably wont know but should really find exciting.


Tom said...

Hi Stape
I don't know if you can soundly refute what people find or discover in a painting. Paintings seem to be like the world itself. Two different people can encounter the same reality and see and experience such different things. To me the true work of art allows one to discover what is most important in my own experince of the world. And for that experience I don't need any special tools like history to fine meaning. The sixties where"crazy" (so Ive heard) and Bosch's paintings seem to reveal a crazy courpt world which we still live in today, not some world to come. It also seems that any history we create is just another narrative
and all narratives are stories and stories lean toward art and opioion as much as fact. Art seems to have much more to do with our experience of reality that lying down cold hard facts. Hegel's analogy regarding Greek scuplture seems apt,"beautiful fruit that has fallen from the tree that give it life.

I think it is great that a whole new generation can find completely new fresh meanings in such old work. It means you can still see the world as fresh and new and like life
itself, art works are always here, now waiting for someone
to discover their immeasurable meanings. In a way the
viewer completes the work.


Stapleton Kearns said...

I disagree but I will choose not to debate the anonymous, would you please enable your profile? Its weird, I tell you who I am, who are you?

Tim said...

Bosch and Dali is also very influential today in the modern "lowbrow" movement in the west.

I cant say I'm very fond of the scene, sure there are some talented painters, but it reeks of superficial craziness and odd objects juxtaposed with other, odder objects. It falls in to more of the "Look-I-painted-something cool-looking-and-out-there" than something with any more depth. Nice surface but vacuous. Maybe Im not looking hard enough, or maybe its because they are young, successful and good looking, but hey, to each their own!

Examples of in my opinion the top of lowbrow art are

Mike Hussar

Greg Simkins http://www.imscared.com/

Martin Wittfooth

Often times these artists come out of the graffiti and street scenes, so they are covered in attitude, tattoos, piercings and other desperate "look-at-me-Im special" regalia that finally makes them all look the same.

willek said...

Your art history blogs always start me out on a Google Image journey. Always very rewarding and informative.

Robert J. Simone said...

I also disagree with Tom. What he describes is pure relativity. Not all truth is relative. There is such a thing as absolute truth. Sure, we may see in ancient art, things which seem to speak to our time, that's because some truth's are universal. That is not the same as misunderstanding something and saying to oneself, this is a fresh interpretation. Interpretation which disregards the artist's intent is not interpretation at all.

Since, growing up in the 60's I have loved Bosch and Dali. In fact the world's largest collection of Dali paintings followed me from my youth in Cleveland, OH to my adult life in St. Petersburg, Fl. Dali went through a religious conversion late in life and several of his most famous masterpieces depict his return, as a member in good standing, to the Catholic Church. And he is still very popular. They are building a new, modern museum to house the collection no more than a mile and half from my home. People come from all over the world to see his work!

Bob Carter said...

I discovered Bosch in college in the '60s without realizing he was hip. It was shortly after I discovered Breughel. I'll take your word that many saw Freud in Bosch, but that certainly wasn't it for me. I was more facinated with the uniquely individual perspectives each of these artists took to religious themes. I still love the "where's Waldo" compositions of Breughel, whose message seems to me to be that momentous events occur nearly unnoticed in the hubub of life. Bosch facinated me as an example of fantasically imaginative religious extremism, which I think it really is. No Freud or Jung for me. I must say I feel deflated that my fascination with these two could be mistaken for fad.

mariandioguardi.com said...

These two artists are still relatively influential in Europe where sur-realism continues to influence contemporary art. Surrealism is alive and strong there, especially in Spain. Let's not forget Magritte (maybe he was 70's?). Anyway, perhaps the lasting influence of the intellectual and emotional dissection from the 60's, a beyond the historical perspective continues to be seen in art schools where the buzz word is "Content" (hence the despicable lumps..which are very Freudian right Stape?!).

But Tim does have a point, art is ULTIMATELY personal, whether a collector buys a certain period or artist because a gallerist tells them to buy it or one buys it because it's done well or because it hits an emotional note - there is a person making a decision about what they like and want beyond the museum. Some art is better than other FOR SURE but what one gets from art good or bad, is personal.I personally get more when I encounter art without know about it AND THEN get a historical perspective. It all comes together. But that's just me.

Tim said...

Mariandio, I think you are referíng to Toms post, not mine.

I was the one who went on some off-topic nonsensical rant about lowbrow art that had nothing to do with Stapes original post, except the reference to Bosch and Dali.

Unknown said...

And here I thought Michael Connelly was just making this stuff up in his Harry Bosch stories.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I wrote a post some time ago called meaning and the illusion of meaning that applies tot that art I think.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thanks, are you ready for snowcamp W ?

Stapleton Kearns said...

I would like to see that museum. I didn't mean that the artists in question were forgotten , only that they were very popular during that era.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Bosch was a fad I think, his importance has waned. But Breughel is an important master who is in a different category.Waldo is in Maine around Belfast.


Stapleton Kearns said...

What is a gallerist?

Stapleton Kearns said...

I think anyone with a cash register that costs 2000 dollars a year just to rent from the state needs to befriend John Galt.

Stapleton Kearns said...

How did HE get in here?

willek said...

Holy Xmas, This whole conversation is moving along at such a pace it makes me dizzy! By the way, everyone knows that a gallaristoso is a guy who owns a gallery. A galleristina is a woman of the same ilk... The Galleristatti are the people wwo attend galleries and who make up the gallery "scene". ..but, the Gallerist, in contrast, is one who eats gallenules.. (Chickens to the uninformatti.)

Unknown said...


Here's the book:


Harry Hieronymus Bosch (the lead character in a series of best selling Connelly books--played by Clint Eastwood in Blood Work) is named after the artist, but I always assumed it was just made up back story.

In the book linked above, Harry gets called into a case involving an old murder and an old friend and retired FBI agent, who notices that a plastic owl in the murder scene photos has been removed from he scene, it was staring down at the victim. The Owl looks like one from a Bosch painting, Bosch is named after the artist, Bosch was mad the murder victim got off when he should of been convicted.

Thus, the FBI agent goes to the Getty and so does Bosch and viola he's now the prime suspect and his careers on the line and it's all linked to a plastic owl posed over a dead body like in some painting.

I'd be a writer too but I'm waaaay too impatient. With painting, you throw some paint, realize you suck as an artist still, and start a new painting. Eventually you paint a couple nice passages and people say "it's beautiful" so you feel good.

I think writing is a harder art form because you have to stick with the same project for a good year or more in order to produce anything worthwhile, but that's just my opinion.

Unknown said...

nice post