wrapped in the melodrama of vulgarity

Was the impulse of modern art to destroy beauty, to pitch renaissance notions of beauty into the dumpster? Behind De Kooning, was there a profound and embedded hated of women? He did say “flesh was the main reason oil paint was invented.” But then, was part of it about provocation and to convey parody in the work ; not about women but about how women are objectified- even by himself- and was he not painting real women, but distorted fragmented images from pop culture or simply a parody of the prevailing values of the male dominated art network and the larger context of societal patriarchy and chauvinism? ….

In the same way was Christopher Hitchens a misogynist who enjoyed  using sexist language – in addition to racist rhetoric- in his writing. The category of resolute and dissolute are not easy to define. Did Hitchens use He use his notoriety to provided learned cover for wars of aggression like say a Heidegger that took the lives of untold thousands of people. Or was it a principled approach of just cause? Like De Kooning, we will be arguing Hitchens relationship to women, clearly conflictual, for many an eon, since even Hitchens perceived, the gender divide is greatly aggravated by religion in its assignment of roles and without these social constructions, basically to retain status and control, there is little of substance to differentiate the sexes, yet this view, intuitive and based on reason may have collided with a recessed emotional romanticism, a fragmented abstraction that shattered the classical mold….

---I don’t expect that Christopher Hitchens will be a favorite among Feministe readers, but he is a personal favorite of mine. Often wrong, often sexist, a total alcoholic misogynist disaster, but — a phenomenal writer, a modern philosopher, a true curmudgeon. I have a soft spot for people who, though they may be wrong sometimes (and right others), make me think longer, harder and more deeply. I have a soft spot for people who don’t fit neatly into ideological categories, and whose wrongness makes me interrogate my own position, and defend it more thoroughly. Christopher Hitchens was, for me, one of those people. He was one of my very favorite modern writers and thinkers. And I am truly sad to hear that he passed away today, at the age of 62. He was as far from a saint as they come, but God (who is not great) bless him. --- Read More:http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2011/12/16/goodbye-mr-hitchens/ image:http://www.ghostofaflea.com/archives/016980.html

Kuspit: De Kooning’s art is a sort of reductio ad absurdum of Picasso’s insulting attitude to classical art, and, more pointedly, to beauty — the lovely beauty of his painted Seated Woman, ca. 1940, and of his wife Elaine de Kooning in his exquisite, tender pencil portrait of her, ca. 1940-41. It is a beauty still apparent, however forlorn and distressed, in Woman Sitting, 1943-44, and Queen of Hearts, 1943-46. It is mocked in the grimacing toothy Woman that appears in 1948 and 1949, crushed and smashed in Woman, 1949-50, and finally completely disappears in the famously monstrous, intimidating Woman I, 1950-52, and the equally grotesque, domineering Woman IV, 1952-53, Woman V, Woman with Bicycle, both 1952-53, and Woman VI, 1953, with their equally vicious faces and sardonic smiles. The early woman images convey love — the women are treated kindly, respectfully. The later images are full of murderous hatred, as their battered, perversely distorted bodies — sadistically slashed and hacked and finally torn to pieces, their skin shredded so that it can no longer contain its flesh, which spills and spins out of control, leaving their bodies barely recognizable — strongly suggest. De Kooning’s woman is certainly a far cry from the classical beautiful Venus, not only because she’s ugly and repulsive, but because she’s hateful and malicious….

---Willem de Kooning Woman V 1952-53 Richard Grey Gallery--- Saltz:When I came of age, de Kooning was always attacked as a sexist pig who slept with everybody and painted women to look like crazed gargoyles. Yet your book talks about how his wife, Elaine, slept around, and he caught her twice in bed with other men—once with his own art dealer, another time with his staunchest defender, Thomas Hess. For me, the paintings aren’t sexist; they’re sexy—­luscious, fleshy, wild life. Read More:http://nymag.com/guides/fallpreview/2011/art/de-kooning-retrospective/

…Why is woman the target of de Kooning’s hatred? Why does he have to destroy her? Why does he skin her alive — the bodies of Woman, Sag Harbor, 1964, and Woman, 1964-65, are no more than strips of skin, pink animal hides — disembowel her, and smash her face, as though wanting to knock her teeth out, tear her body apart like a wild beast (crazed Fauve, as it were)? Each painterly gesture is a like a cutting wound — a cutting edge indeed, leaving disfigured flesh in its wake. The remnants of her body are scattered in various abstractions, from the black paintings which first established his reputation to the later white paintings. They may be esthetically edifying — formally ingenious, as it were — but they putrify into surreal morbidity. De Kooning, like Picasso, had an “attitude” to woman and to beautiful art. …

---Mr. de Kooning was known, among other things, for his ''Woman'' paintings. The female figure became the tonic note to which he returned again and again in his long career, and from this preoccupation came many of his most hotly contested works: the toothy, blowzy images of the late 1940's, 50's and 60's, which have been described every which way: as sexist and pornographic, affectionate and funny, or all these things at once. They are garish high-heeled figures with puckered lips and fuchsia nails, bulging eyes and bulging breasts, painted with an almost vicious enthusiasm. ''They look vociferous and ferocious, and I think it had to do with the idea of the idol, the oracle and above all the hilariousness of it,'' Mr. de Kooning once said. ''I do think that if I don't look upon life that way, I won't know how to keep on being around.''--- Read More:http://www.nytimes.com/1997/03/20/arts/willem-de-kooning-dies-at-92-reshaped-us-art.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

…One can read them away into his “abstract expressionist” (man)handling of them, but he’s doing battle with his muse, indeed, suggesting that the muse of modern art is a monster unlike the beautiful classical muse, which is why modern art (and modern woman) seems far from ideal, however cosmetically idealized, as de Kooning’s fascination with her flashy red lipstick in some works suggests — suggesting also the source or inspiration for his flashy, not to say sensually excited and exciting, brushstrokes. De Kooning’s painterliness is a manic defense against the depressing and destructive effect of the Magna Mater on the infantile, primitive psyche, even as it suggests that he takes a certain perverse pleasure in being overwhelmed by her. He spoils her out of paranoid envy, even as he luxuriates in her flesh, hanging on to her breasts for dear life, even as he acknowledges that they they’re not exactly a comforting resting place, and that she stares at you like a Medusa, as Woman I does, ready to turn men into stone, if stone not as heavy as her breasts — suggesting that de Kooning’s slithering gestures are the snakes that formed her hair, as fascinating for him as her eyes and lips….

---There was a time when I tried to counter that view by saying his paintings were purely abstract, that his considerations were all about form and not about subject matter and that the hints of recognizable bodies were incidental. But I’ve come to realize that argument doesn’t hold up. The obvious fact that he painted so many women and that his paintings of women nearly always accentuated, focused upon and enlarged or exaggerated breasts and lips give clear evidence of some kind of infatuation with women as sexual beings. De Kooning himself denied that his art was formalistic, but he often contradicted in words what his art said with paint.--- Read More:http://alecclayton.blogspot.com/2011/09/willems-women.html

…Duchamp once dismissed painting as olfactory masturbation, but like de Kooning he liked masturbating to women’s image, and humiliating them — suggesting neither understood what it means to love and care for a woman (perhaps for anything except their art) — which, as the psychoanalyst Robert Stoller tells us, is the inner meaning of pornography. De Kooning destabilizes woman’s body, projecting his own instability into it, suggesting that his sadistic use and abuse of their bodies shows his identification with them, even as it suggests that his art is a nightmarish wet dream, affording a certain masochistic pleasure in the suffering he puts her — and himself — through. … Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/kuspit/willem-de-kooning-at-moma-10-6-11_detail.asp?picnum=5

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