Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Studies for Purposefully Abandoned Paintings

The drawings above were made for a series of un-stretched canvas oil paintings that were placed anonymously on building sites in the Lower East Side neighborhood in 1987.  I taped them up on those temporary plywood walls in hopes that random people would take them home and even cherish them, knowing full well that their more likely fate would be destruction. 
Below are some details of the drawings above, and then , lastly, two drawings from a few years earlier: a drawing of my father sleeping on the couch at about the age I am now and a drawing of myself naked in the act of drawing.

Monday, October 13, 2014

On a Clear Day you can see Forever

by Vincente Minnelli, Alan Jay Lerner and Burton Lane

This late film by Minnelli is generally dismissed as some kind of failure, even now as it was when it first appeared, which strikes me as a bit of a shame.  The images were framed by two Hollywood masters: Vincente Minnelli and, his director of photography, Harry Stradling (who also shot Minnelli's greatest film, The Pirate.)   

The images above come from the beginning of it, up to the brilliant parody of Carol Reed’s shabby Oscar-winning film of Oliver! (a mediocrity relieved only by the presence of the director’s burly and charismatic nephew, Oliver Reed, as Bill Sikes.)  In Minnelli’s great Orphanage sequence in On a Clear Day, the filmmakers designed sets and costumes scaled so as to make giants appear “normal” and Barbra appear to be a ten year old.  (Perhaps De Palma was paying homage to this, as well as Hitchcock’s Marnie, in his very clever Kidnapping sequence near the end of Obsession with Geneviève Bujold.)  Streisand was never in better voice or had a better batch of songs to sing or routines to put over.  She shows all of her theatrical skills in this wonderfully soundstage bound musical.  Maybe not as great as The Pirate or The Band Wagon, but better than just about anything of its kind and time up until Altman’s Popeye.  Above all, the film has some very interesting things to say about its times and time and what it means to be a nobody.