paris by gaslight

- bill 5-04-2010 2:33 pm

A light bulb blazes in the shape of an evil eye over the suffering horse's head (the bare bulb of the torturer's cell.) Picasso's intended symbolism in regards to this object is related to the Spanish word for lightbulb; "bombilla", which makes an allusion to "bomb" and therefore signifies the destructing effect which technology can have on society.

- bill 5-04-2010 2:45 pm [add a comment]

stuart davis: edison mazda (painted, not lit)

jasper johns: light bulbs (as object - none lit), also unlit flashlights)

dan flavin: lit!

- bill 5-04-2010 3:41 pm [add a comment]

The almost God like worship the first wave Futurists for electricity found it's way onto the canvas, the most obvious early attempt at capturing this new technology found in Balla's Street Lamp (1909), where thousands of iridescent chevrons of red and gold radiate outwards from the centre of the picture plane, the electric lamp itself a dynamic, vibrating pod of golden white. Severini handled the issue of electric light very differently, but with equal charm, in The Boulevard (1909), where his Proto-Cubist handling (remembering that Severini was based in Paris and had been exposed to Proto-Cubism via his association with Picasso and Braque well before Boccioni's 1911 visit) transforms the light of the street lamps into yellow triangles, headlights conceived as small, yellow circles with radiating beams - tiny, child-like suns in his bustling, urban landscape.

- bill 5-04-2010 4:09 pm [add a comment]

  • not certain that balla painting is of an electric light. also not certain of the location of the subject street light (rome/paris?).

    The first electric street lighting employed arc lamps, initially the 'Electric candle', 'Jablotchkoff candle' or 'Yablochkov candle' developed by the Russian Pavel Yablochkov in 1875. This was a carbon arc lamp employing alternating current, which ensured that both electrodes were consumed at equal rates. Yablochkov candles were first used to light the Grands Magasins du Louvre, Paris where 80 were deployed—improvement which was one of the reasons why Paris earned its "City of Lights" nickname. Soon after, experimental arrays of arc lamps were used to light Holborn Viaduct and the Thames Embankment in London - the first electric street lighting in Britain. More than 4,000 were in use by 1881, though by then an improved differential arc lamp had been developed by Friederich von Hefner‑Alteneck of Siemens & Halske. The United States was swift in adopting arc lighting, and by 1890 over 130,000 were in operation in the US, commonly installed in exceptionally tall moonlight towers.

    The first street in the UK to be lit by electric light was Mosley Street, in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The street was lit by Joseph Swan's incandescent lamp on the 3rd February, 1879.[3][4] The first in the United States, and second overall, was the Public Square road system in Cleveland, Ohio, on April 29, 1879.[5] Wabash, Indiana holds the title of being the third electrically-lit city in the world, which took place on February 2, 1880. Four 3,000 candlepower Brush arc lamps suspended over the courthouse rendered the town square "as light as midday."[6] Kimberley, South Africa, was the first city in Africa to have electric street lights - first lit on 1 September 1882. In Latin America, San Jose, Costa Rica was the first city, the system was launched on August 9, 1884, with 25 lamps powered by an hydroelectric plant [7]. Timişoara, in present-day Romania, was the first city in mainland Europe to have electric public lighting on the 12 of November 1884. 731 lamps were used. In 1888 Tamworth, New South Wales, Australia became the first location in the Southern Hemisphere to have electric street lighting, giving the city the title of "First City of Light".[8]

    - bill 5-04-2010 5:34 pm [add a comment]

The message of the electric light and power are separate from their uses, yet they eliminate time and space factors in human association exactly as do radio, telegraph, telephone and TV, creating involvement in depth.

- sally mckay 5-04-2010 4:33 pm [add a comment]

Thanks. Was wondering about the effect of the light bulb on Modernist thinking. (I assume you saw the AFC thread). But what does it say when an artist "does" a light bulb in 2010? Backward-looking is the only way I can describe it.
- tom moody 5-04-2010 4:35 pm [add a comment]

sillman appears to render either archaic light bulbs or (DC) flashlight bulbs for some reason. web consensus connects radiant light bulbs to edison's eurica moments (of which he had many including vacuum tube light bulbs). some effort has also been given to replacing the classic light bulb symbol with something else since recent technology has proven it to be a not so efficient form of luminescence. once something has attained iconic status its hard to undo without a better replacement icon (a reference here to "reinventing the light bulb"). technology may not be the place to look for lasting metaphors, but a hundred years is not a bad run.

- bill 5-04-2010 5:08 pm [add a comment]

If she'd painted this I might say she's thinking about technology instead of just "an idea."
- tom moody 5-04-2010 5:37 pm [add a comment]

'bête comme un peintre.'

- bill 5-04-2010 5:46 pm [add a comment]

Untitled (Light Bulb), oil on panel, 12 x 14 inches / "After witnessing his father's depression and finding him following his suicide, the young Guston retreated to a place of literal isolation--a closet illuminated by a single light bulb--and began a lifelong career in art through an intense engagement with cartoons of his own invention. The light bulb later became a prevailing image in Guston's mature work. "

- bill 5-04-2010 7:01 pm [add a comment]

Someone on that AFC thread actually said something like "Sillman may not be Guston, but who is? Don't hold it against her." Pathetic.
I was thinking dumb as a painter the longer that thread got. Or at least whiny as a painter.

Peter Plagens has a different take on that phrase (found searching the French): "I don't think that the French literally think that painters have lower IQ's than, say, farmers or bank clerks, but they do think that painters are obstinately impractical in spending a lot of time and money on a useless hobby, especially if their spouses and children suffer from their impracticality."

Obstinate for sure: "you'll have to pry my brushes from my cold dead fingers."
- tom moody 5-04-2010 8:30 pm [add a comment]


Rayograph (Five light bulbs), 1930
unique gelatin silver print

apparently not part of the Electricité series but a unique variant (lampshade not included).
- bill 5-04-2010 9:12 pm [add a comment]

now thats there some lovely art.....
- Skinny 5-05-2010 12:13 am [add a comment]

"...thinking about technology instead of just an 'idea.'" I realise this belongs in a specific context regarding the AFC thread but it's a weird distinction. Technology & idea are historically pretty tightly integrated. That's why the light bulb is such a cute icon.
- sally mckay 5-05-2010 2:21 am [add a comment]

Hi, Sally, I touched on your point later in the thread about merely retinal painters suddenly becoming guardians of the tactical tactile [jeez] when faced with widespread optical culture. (Someone had a comment about Satanic messages from playing Greenberg backwards that could be tied in with this better.) As for technology vs idea, yes, the distinction was necessary on the AFC thread. I said that Sillman's show mostly turned its back on cyber-everything-culture and commenter Jesse was making a misguided attempt to defend me by saying that I was following up on issues Sillman raised herself. I don't think she did because her lightbulb is a pretty lowtech symbol at this point and a flashlight bulb even lower. It was a weak Guston reference and kind of Krazy Kat evocation of "philosophy," not a lead-in to discussing the internet and cybernetics in home and workplace. (Bill's Guston lightbulb find is so beautiful it makes me cry that anyone is even discussing Sillman.)
- tom moody 5-05-2010 4:03 pm [add a comment]

this was the guston light bulb image link source:

When I was recently in nyc i had a chance to see an exhibition of small panel paintings in oil by Philip Guston at David McKee Gallery that were painted during the years 1969-1973 [Nixon Era]. In these small works, Guston isolated elements of his larger paintings: one lightbulb, a wall, an easel, painting them with a vigorous sureness of touch.
smore context for guston at mckee (note: sillman mention on video @ 3:23).
- bill 5-05-2010 4:18 pm [add a comment]

I think the lightbulb is actually a pretty good visual metaphor to encapsulate the merits of looking backward at technology. In this day and age, I don't think there needs to be a direct reference to computer or screen or cyber ... their influence on perception is ubiquitous and to some extent (I hope) can be taken as read. And the history of art&technology feels to me like a very relevant thing to discuss. However, the Sillman paintings are pretty unappealing, and trying to formulate a discourse around one's own paintings with other media is clunky in the extreme. It feels too forced, especially since there is so much other good work that evokes the materiality of idea, the crunching of formal and conceptual concerns, without the need to over-articulate it in a didactic way. But the artists I am thinking of who really succeed at this- Lorna Mills, Rebecca Diederichs, Fastwurms, Andrew J. Paterson...are all using multi-media. Painters who do it? I know of painters who are trying. Matt Crookshank is one. Maybe Angela Leach. Monica Tap for sure. It's harder in painting, but I wouldn't rule the medium out altogether.
- sally mckay 5-05-2010 4:18 pm [add a comment]

Just so we're clear, I didn't say every art work requires a direct reference to computer-or-screen-or-cyber (that was the conclusion many enraged painters reached on the AFC thread), but some acknowledgment that we live in a time period after 1977 or so would be useful. Sillman's paintings are frozen around the "new image painting" era. So she has a CD and a zine on the gallery desk and her followers insist that we must read all three together. "Trying to formulate a discourse around one's own paintings with other media is clunky in the extreme" is the issue, for sure.
- tom moody 5-05-2010 4:58 pm [add a comment]

I corrected "guardians of the tactile" above--I know you know what I meant.
- tom moody 5-05-2010 5:00 pm [add a comment]

# Painting is dead. Long live painting!
MATTHEW ROSE // 05 May 2010, 6:17 am

# Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Painting is dead (says Amy Sillman). Long live jpegs.
tom moody // 05 May 2010, 12:04 pm
- tom moody 5-05-2010 5:06 pm [add a comment]

  • and mp3s!!!!

    which brings to mind steve parrino. keeping it alive one painting at a time.
    - bill 5-05-2010 5:58 pm [add a comment]

"painting is dead" is and has always been about the dumbest phrase to ever emerge from art criticism. It's just such a boring red herring.
- sally mckay 5-05-2010 5:18 pm [add a comment]

Though I do recall reading a critic recently who stated that each painting has to make a case for itself. I liked that criteria (and wish it was applied more broadly to other media)
- L.M. 5-05-2010 5:40 pm [add a comment]

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