mumford detail

steve mumford detail

- tom moody 7-11-2007 8:45 pm

Steve Mumford? I'm convinced he is the most decidedly un-contemporary artist working today. He embeds himselv in a military unit, sanctioned completely by the state, to go make realistic drawings of military actions and operations. He is actively retrograde in his technique (ie. drawing) and in his context (completely operating within the law, with the law's approval and material support). The digital is the antidote, the Mumford solvent.

I guess this means I'm trying to say I think this (meaning, your's, the paint.exe drawing) is a great work.
- bxk (guest) 7-11-2007 10:30 pm

Thanks. I've been griping about Mumford's project for years, to no avail. It mystifies me that the 99% lefty art world gives him a free pass to support Bush. My conclusion is he must be a super nice guy and and people just don't have it in them to hurt his feelings. So they keep showing these drawings, at Postmasters, PS1, etc.
- tom moody 7-12-2007 12:22 am

A few weeks ago twhid linked to the Canadian Steve Mumford, but believes that Mumford is a better artist.
- tom moody 7-12-2007 12:32 am

I've asked some very political high-profile artists what they think of Mumford, and the reply I've received a few times (well, twice, actually) is that the ambiguity about where he is truly invested is what saves him. I don't exactly like that.
- bxk (guest) 7-12-2007 7:02 am

Yes, it sounds like a carefully worded non-response.
The drawings aren't ambiguous at all, unless that means "bland" or "poorly drawn to the point of having no content."
- tom moody 7-12-2007 7:37 am

I've never heard of that "Canadian Steve Mumford," Richard Johnson. I don't think he's been getting a lot of art shows. The whole idea of a contemporary war artist is so quaint these days when we've got all kinds of multi-media representations of the war generated by all kinds of participants, citizens and media at our fingertips.
- sally mckay 7-15-2007 8:19 pm

He's really only the Canadian Steve Mumford because of twhid's comparison on the MTAA blog--I doubt anyone else noticed the similarity.
I'm guessing Mumford's supporters would say that his drawings are a way of slowing down perception and scrutiny in the midst of this multimedia blitz. The problem is it's war we're talking about, where things happen quickly. So you end up with ink wash renderings of soldiers sitting around barracks or staring off into the desert distance between "missions." It's meditative (or would be if better drawn) but also largely irrelevant. I'm talking mostly about the Baghdad diaries--I've seen an image of one gory painting called "Dying Insurgent" but it is as affectless as the rest.
- tom moody 7-15-2007 9:05 pm

I think the painter Scott Waters is much more interesting. He served in the Canadian military, and has created a disturbing body of work reflecting his experiences and his fellow soldiers that does express "ambiguity about where he is truly invested." It is not a perfect parallel, however, because he is not painting within a war zone.
- sally mckay 7-15-2007 10:03 pm