Monday, November 10, 2008

“Kari Loses An Underwire From Her Bra...”

“Movies, and particularly frame-enlargements, have been in my work what engravings and such were for artists in the distant past, what printed illustrations were for painters like Manet and Van Gogh, what photographs were for Degas and Cézanne and later for Sickert and Bacon. No more and no less.”

R. B. Kitaj
quoted inPop Art

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about this kind of thing:

I’m not talking about politics and I’m not talking about conspiracy theories.

I talking about art and entertainment images based on frames from the pop media. That is an Audrey Flack oil painting based on a frame from one of the famous film sequences of Kennedy from that day in Dallas. (This isn’t from the Zapruder film. This is from earlier, at the airport, when Kennedy just arrived in Dallas.)

I’ve posted paintings based on media frames before. I’m very intrigued by this stuff.

I’ve posted Karen Kilimnik’s painting based on an old horror film.

Kilimnik does a lot of these things. It was seeing one of her paintings from a frame of the old TV show “The Avengers” that first got me thinking about this. I had never seen such work before, but I gather it has been going on for quite some time in the fine arts world.

And I’ve posted McDermott & McGough’s odd double painting based on a couple of old melodrama films.

Lots of “real” artists do this kind of work.

I don’t really know what to think about paintings like this. I haven’t read or figured out any kind of esthetic theory for images copied from media frames. But, subjectively, every time I’ve seen one of these things from Karen Kilimnik it’s made me smile. And similar stuff by other artists always catches my eye. Even though I can’t put my finger on why I like this stuff, I suspect there is something special going on, something worth thinking about further.

The quote from Kitaj is interesting but not particularly thoughtful. He just passes off the process of using media frames as the contemporary version of artists responding to the culture around them. But everything an artist creates is a response to the culture around him—in one way or another. That doesn’t address why frame-based paintings are so intriguing.

So, I’ve been giving this a lot of thought.

And over the weekend I decided to give it a try.

Instead of doing a normal cartoon, I decided to try my hand at creating a more comprehensive image based on a frame from an obscure bit of video. I was going to do a painting, but I simply can’t handle a brush. I did color, but I stayed with stick-based color.

If I were a cool, contemporary artist doing the whole fine arts thing—if I were spending the quiet hours sipping vodka-and-tonics with Karen Kilimnik—I would be doing images like this. If I were a real artist I’d be doing this better than I did over the weekend, but this was still fun to play at. I’m sure I won’t be stealing sales away from the real artists, but I might be trying something like this again and trying to get better. Just for the fun of it.

This even has a long, Karen Kilimnik-type title: “Kari loses an underwire from her bra in the DVD edit of ‘Killer Brace Position’”

Here is my first ever attempt at the fine arts:

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