Lovely Lovely: Art Documentary by Matthew Collings

Mature Content and Language

This is another episode in the art documentary series, This is Modern Art, by Matthew Collings.  In this episode, Collings explores the place of beauty in modern art.  How does beauty fit into art that tries to shock?  What is the purpose of beauty in art?  Doesn’t most conceptual art try to dispense with beauty entirely?  Is beauty something we need for comfort?  Does it have something to say in art or is it just a distraction?

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Parts 3 – 5 after the jump

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This is Modern Art – A Documentary Film by Matthew Collings

Mature content and language:

So this is a 1990s documentary about modern art. Matthew Collings, an artist himself, leads us through Picasso, Pollock and Warhol to try to get some glimmer of an idea on what modern art might be. I like the approach of admitting confusion and investigating the various possibilities. I must admit that I’ve always held Picasso in the highest position among artists, but the quotes attributed to him are seeming more threadbare with each repetition. I feel that Pollock was some kind of accidental moron who produced absolutely magnificent works. The first time I ever approached a Pollock at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, I was quite literally blown away and actually said out loud, ‘Oh holy fucking shit! That’s what it is.’ The painting was enormous with lots of black and white in it. But the size was not really significant. What hit me in the head about it was that it suddenly went 3D on me. It almost made me dizzy. I saw all the layers and complexities and they were overwhelming.  But nevertheless, Pollock is moronic and doesn’t hold the interest.

I’ve always felt that the sly, insulting, flippant intelligence of Andy Warhol was an extremely important aspect of art in the 20th century. His odd repetitive behavior, both verbal and visual, makes the great statement of modern art. I think Warhol’s art can only exist in its relationship to film. In fact, I think Warhol’s work is entirely filmic. There is probably not a single painting in his entire body of mature work. It is easy for many people to insult Warhol and dismiss him as junk. I suspect that would make him very happy. Warhol is kind of like Los Angeles. The good stuff is hidden in the dumpy shop at the end of the strip mall you’re driving past. You have to go inside and look around a bit or you won’t find it. Most people move to LA and drift through it with their second-hand little dream and a part-time job while they try to become someone they once saw in a magazine. Meanwhile, they’re just a person from Iowa who’s never even looked at LA. They’ll go back to die in Iowa while watching soap operas and smoking American Spirits. Warhol knew that almost everyone you meet is that person from Iowa who doesn’t have any eyes and his art is code for how to avoid them. He wanted you to watch him on television and think he was an idiot.  He was actually in the wrong city.  New York was over in the fifties.  He should have moved to LA.

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Watch parts 3 – 5 after the jump

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The Animated Films of Painter György Kovásznai

While visiting Your Daily Cartoon, I watched an animated film by Hungarian painter György Kovásznai.  I liked the calm mishmash of drawing styles and quiet humor. The 1965 film is called Mesék a m?veszet világából (Tales From the World of Art). It has no subtitles but is pretty easy to follow, taking a bemused look at several kinds of art. The first part is an action movie, the second is a theatrical piece, the third is a piano recital.

This one is called Várakozni jó (Waiting for Good). It’s about a traffic jam with a truck that suddenly opens its back doors and explodes into a 1969 rock & roll jam. The wild sketchy ever-changing animation style is more psychedelic than most commercialized sixties psychedelia could ever be.

This one is Gitáros fiú a régi képtárban (Boy Guitarist of the Old Hits) from 1964. It’s simply a guitarist playing and dancing his way through artworks by old masters presented in a very avant-garde fashion. Understanding the art is one thing, but the person who can truly enjoy it is far ahead in the game.

Know No Truth – A Film About a Painter by Joe Martino

This beautiful film by Joe Martino features painter Landon Richmond working and talking about his perspective on the pursuit of one’s art and expression. It’s a very direct and moving film. I agree with every word that comes out of the painter’s mouth. And I like the way he says it without a trace of pretension or irony. He’s interested in facing the darkness in his art and he recommends this fearless approach as a general principal. You have to be able to look directly at anything.  Richmond also acknowledges the place that chaos occupies in his work – the willingness to not necessarily understand where it is that you are going but to go nonetheless.  I really enjoyed hearing this painter’s words today and will keep them in mind for quite some time.

You can see lots of Landon Richmond’s paintings and a web comic at

Maybe One Day Everything Will be Beautiful – by Landon Richmond