Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Host

Gerhard Richter-Candle (German 1980's)

With MacGuyveresque ingenuity did Edith Wharton once proclaim that both a candle and a mirror could spread light to dark corners.


I had a grinder fit a moment ago when, snapping back from a perfectly transcendent state, I suddenly realized the vulgarity of Sonic Youth, and the album cover to their overpraised 1988 album, Daydream Nation. The older I get the more spiritually bound I feel to Richter's tensile blurs and ephemeral interpretations of objects. So much so that when I see one in the context of a Sonic Youth album cover it feels like a cheap, haute hipster appropriation. There is a wild mystery that lies so close to normal life in Richter's more literal works, and to see it this way just kind of makes me sad.

The argument has been made--and is gospel among my generation (the same generation that touts M.I.A. and Sufjan Stevens I might add), that Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation is the ideal fusion of high art conviction and raw youthful self-consciousness. And I'm not gonna say these SY folks are dummies just for the sake of being iconoclastic. They're bright and talented and all the things you love. However as I age away from their ethical unrest, to a different restlessness the autonomy and unmarriageable authority of Richter's images require more and more space and quiet. Through the labor of seeing and execution, the ambivalent nod to photographic flaw, and the poetic thunderbolt of object and arrangement, the painting is timeless in a way the record is not. The relationship, if you concede my point, is less of a compelling contrast than it is a parasitic juxtaposition.


Anonymous said...

Can't we just like both? Must they be contrasted or juxataposed? Can't the Sonic Youth album just be a good record, for what it is, not really having to do anything with the painting? And what it is is a totally different thing than a Richter painting. I would assume they used the painting for the cover because they liked it. Or at least I would hope so.

Anonymous said...

I really wish you didn't require OpenID for comments because I have never been able to get that stupid account to work correctly.

Your very annoyed friend,

Perfectly Disgraceful

Bryan said...

Well 1212441513s26543, just kidding..Hi Mary!

Sure folks can like both. And sure they chose the painting because they liked it...I assume. And they did so wisely, from an artistic point of view; there's something emblematic about it that does in fact work with well that sacred cow of rock prattle.

The SY record has become such a generational thing, so unanimously revered. Disliking it as I do-though truth be told it's more like agitated indifference, I always get a little sore seeing the painting--which I LOVE, tied to it. Call it the Pink Moon Volkswagen tv ad effect:

"Oh that candle painting. Yeah, I love that thing. You know, the Daydream Nation cover..."

Deadens the autonomy of the painting, was my point. But then if you're not with me in the cranky .000001 percentile of people below the age of 60 who dislike SY the premise itself is silly and pointlessly hung up.

Grouchy as ever,
Bryan (a.k.a. 121244513s26542)

p.s. I'll see what I can do about the Open ID thing. I'm not sure how that works...

Bryan said...

I think I just took care of the Open ID thing. You shall all be as you are!