Monday, October 22, 2007

The H Word

(Marcel Broodthaers, Femur d'une Femme Francaise)

One artist stereotype is that we’re moody and dark. These remarks in Roberta Smith’s recent review of two Chelsea shows focusing on death flavors the myth. She says:

“Their message is that all art, basically, is an attempt to explain, fend off or accept death; to commemorate, or communicate with, the dead or deities; or to defy death by making something that lives on. Not surprisingly, both shows are rampant with skeletons and skulls — as universally essential for physical life as they are symbolic of its inevitable end.”


“Mr. Tricot’s essay in the Cheim & Read catalog provides a coda for both shows. In a startlingly Beckett-esque quotation, extracted from the work of the noted 17th-century Spanish writer Francisco de Quevedo, Death admonishes a reluctant victim: ‘What you call to die is to finish dying and what you call birth is the beginning of death and what you call to live is dying as you go on living.’”

Rolling your eyes or loving it? I personally love it. Although I do wonder if talking about living and happiness could ever sound as juicy. Could the ‘h’ word ever be the stuff of art, but eschew the sentimental, the quaint and saccharine?

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