A few weeks back I commented on an Artforum interview with the art historian Jean-Claude Lebensztejn, a teacher of mine in college. I've been rethinking what I said about the following paragraph, on photorealist (or what he calls Hyperrealist) painting:
This insistence on the literal copy is the most caustic aspect of Hyperrealism, undoing what had been the basis of art for five hundred years: the judicious imitation, which was sought by the painter Zeuxis, who chose what was most beautiful in nature. In a word, let's call it artistic idealism. This was Hyperrealism's most decried aspect from the outset: the truly useless character of this painting. Why paint paintings of this sort when they are closest to what they are copying? From this point of view, Hyperrealism completes the modernist destruction of classical aesthetics.
By "closest to what they're copying" I assumed he meant the original subject matter (and said some stuffy things about painting already doing that) but now I think he means the photo itself. Why go to all the trouble to reproduce something that's already documented, usually more accurately, by a photo? It's kind of a meaningless Dada gesture, and I suppose that's what he means about the destruction of classical aesthetics. I guess I should track down his catalog--hopefully it'll be translated.

- tom moody 9-29-2003 5:18 pm

...hopefully it'll be translated"

no, it won't--but some aspects of the problem can be found in the book "malcolm morley--itineraries" (reaktion books)--sorry for the sloppy editing and translating in artforum.

best & thanks & a happy new year


- jean-claude lebensztejn 1-01-2004 12:54 pm

Wow, thanks for commenting. And for teaching that great class years ago. You may not have known it but you had quite the fan club in Charlottesville. I'll look for the Morley book, and probably still keep an eye out for the French edition of the Hyperrealism book, as well. (The layout and pictures in the French edition of Krauss' and Bois' "L’Informe: mode d’emploi" catalog are so much better than the American [Zone Books] version, even if I can't read the text--unfortunately when I was in Paris a couple of years ago the Pompidou had sold out of it.)

- tom moody 1-02-2004 2:43 am

no, i didn't know--i though the students complained about my heavy french accent and my lack of southern gentleman-ness. but thanks for telling me.

- jean-claude lebensztejn 1-19-2004 4:59 pm

Dear Tom, hope you don't mind me posting here, did you ever ,a age to find a translation of the catalogue?
- anonymous (guest) 1-11-2013 12:10 pm

No -- I did find the Morley catalog Lebensztejn mentions. I like Morley's earlier (pre-expressionist) work and J-CL does a good job of talking about it and how it fit in with other hyper-realists of the time.
- tom moody 1-12-2013 3:45 am

add a comment to this page:

Your post will be captioned "posted by anonymous,"
or you may enter a guest username below:

Line breaks work. HTML tags will be stripped.