The Morbid Artist

General discussions of interest to readers and fans of Harlan Ellison.

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Steve Evil
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The Morbid Artist

Postby Steve Evil » Tue Oct 04, 2005 3:49 pm

Now here's a long shot, but I figure it's worth a try.

Years ago, I saw on television a short interview with an artist whose works were all about death. He didn't just paint scenes of death, but he'd mix blood with his paint, and attend autopsies. I'm not sure if this is the same guy who put cow inards on display.

Would anyone at all possibly know the name of this charming character? I'm afraid I know so little about contemporary art.

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Duane
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Postby Duane » Tue Oct 04, 2005 4:32 pm

I wonder if it was Dr. Kevorkian.

Aside from being known as the guy who invented the "suicide machine," he also did some rather morbid artwork as well. This was around five or so years ago when I first heard about this, however. Hopefully some synapses haven't crossed.

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Postby JohnPacer » Tue Oct 04, 2005 5:53 pm

The guy who did pieces of dissected cows encased in glass is Damien Hirst. I have a friend who I think rightly refers to this type of stuff as "visual philosophy" as opposed to "Art."

I've heard of some people putting blood in their paints, but no names stick out. I've actually heard that that fool Thomas Kinkade, the so called "Painter of Light" (cough cough), put his blood in his paints so that collectors could use DNA testing to determine if the painting was authentic. Whether or not that's true, I don't know.

Also, what's so weird about attending autopsies? I did that in my Anatomy class and it's well known that artists from Leonardo to Rembrandt did as much (Rembrant has that fantastic painting of Dr. Tulp performing an autopsy). It's how we learn to understand how the human figure actually functions and can therefore draw it. No one's born with that knowledge.

If you want to see real contemporary art check out Lucien Freud (Sigmund's grandson), Ewan Uglow, or hell, even Odd Nerdrum.

-John

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Steve Evil
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Body Worlds. . .

Postby Steve Evil » Wed Oct 05, 2005 1:40 pm

Well perhaps there is nothing so wierd about autopsies. It struck me wierd at the time because the first thing I thought about were police autopsies rather than medical ones. But they wouldn't let people attend these, would they?

I ask because I am writing a piece about Dr. Gunther von Hagens, a German surgeon who puts plastinated corpses on display. My editors insist on finding some "Art vs. Science" connection, even though von Hagens maintains he is strictly a scientist. Might make for an interesting comparison, thought there really isn't time to do it full justice.

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FrankChurch
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Postby FrankChurch » Thu Oct 06, 2005 9:58 am

People who think they are so goth are usually singing Rain Drops Keep Falling On My Head in the shower, while using a Garfield loofah.

This is where I diverge from many of my lefty brood. I despise much of modern art. I find it to be false or at best real shitty and uninspired. I prefer art that takes an extreme talent and Godly inspiration. Smearing your shit on the screen is not quite Starry Night.

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Postby JohnPacer » Thu Oct 06, 2005 4:55 pm

Frank,
you're right, in that smearing your shit on a screen (or the Virgin Mary as someone did) is not art.
You're wrong in assuming that this is what modern art is. You should check out the names I listed earlier:
Lucien Freud
Euan Uglow
Odd Nerdrum

to name a few.

The problem as I see it is, since you're not actively looking for good modern painting or no one's pointed it out to you, you assume it must not be being made.
And I don't believe in talent. Talent is a word you find in the mouths of the lazy to dismiss what someone else has achieved through hard work, tenacity, and serious training. "It's a blessing, a gift, it's god-given, it's...TALENT." That kind of sentiment is false. Michelangelo once said "If people new how HARD I WORKED to attain my mastery, it wouldn't seem very special at all." (emphasis mine)

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Postby KristinRuhle » Thu Oct 06, 2005 7:56 pm

kevorkian's a ghoul....but then there's ghouls and ghouls. If it's just art, and they aren't obsessed with death ALL the time, well, maybe it's a healthy outlet but like science fiction or anything else some people get a little *too* into it....horror writers attract the weird crowd and the psychol stalkers you know....

A morbid thought I was thinking: If your dog dies before you can you arrange to have its remains dug up and buried with yours? Or its ashes mixed with yours? Pet cemeteries don't take people, and putting your own grave in your backyard is probably against the law....

Kristin

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Postby JohnPacer » Thu Oct 06, 2005 9:12 pm

Back to von Hagens...

That exhibit is currently at the Franklin Institute in Philly (about an hour from me). I can't wait to see it once I get a free moment. I'm hoping they allow people to bring drawing supplies to draw from the bodies (i'm guessing painting's a no-no being messy and sometimes toxic). What a fantastic opportunity. Leonardo never had anything like that to study from.
Steve, if you want to do a science/art comparison your best bet would be a Leonardo angle. Many people forget that in Renaissance time being a artist and a scientist as well as an engineer were almost synonomous. Not only did Leonardo draw and paint, but he used his abilities to make unparalleled discoveries in optics, anatomy, biology, geometry, chemistry, cloud and wave formations, etc. Since he never published anything and hid his writings he isn't credited with many of the things he actually initially discovered. But he isn't alone. Many other artists were also chemists, astronomers, architects and engineers designing everything from city squares to military fortifications. The geometry on the Golden Section, which is a ratio of proportion found in all living organisms, was not only used by Leonardo in his designs, but by Kepler in his studies of planetary motion and crystal formations.

Actually I don't know what the hell that has to do with von Hagens. I wouldn't call him and artist per se, but he's certainly brilliant and what he's created is the most fabulous tool for artists and anyone else with an interest in studying the human form.

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Ceronomus
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Postby Ceronomus » Fri Oct 07, 2005 9:44 am

The creepy thing is that, on the last day of the exhibit in LA one of the pieces was stolen. Two woman simply walked in and walked out again with a fetus.

Now THAT is morbid.

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FrankChurch
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Postby FrankChurch » Fri Oct 07, 2005 10:17 am

This is good modern art:

Image

This is bad, or boring:


Image

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David Loftus
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Postby David Loftus » Fri Oct 07, 2005 11:06 am

The latter reminds me of a wonderful Calman cartoon I once saw in the SF Chronicle (I believe he's a British cartoonist), in which a man is looking at a canvas with a single dark vertical line down one side, and he says: "Yes, I can see it's boring, but is it art?"


My very favorite Calman is one that shows a large, militant-looking woman carrying a sign that says "Free Women Now!" and a dumpy schlub on the sidelines asks, "Can I have one?"
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

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Postby KristinRuhle » Fri Oct 07, 2005 11:29 pm

A *real* fetus Ceronomous?? I bet it was those weird anti-abortion activists who bury fetuses in the ground, give them names and say prayers.

Just wait till they start doing that for blastocysts/stem cells.

Kristin

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Ceronomus
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Postby Ceronomus » Sat Oct 08, 2005 7:58 am

A real fetus.

I hadn't given much thought to what might have happened afterwards, but that certainly sounds like it could be the case.

Sad what people will do to dead meat.

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Postby BrianSiano » Sat Oct 08, 2005 10:05 am

Guess there aren't many Mark Rothko fans on this board.

So... any Philly people wanna do a trip to the Franklin and look at exquisite corpses?
"Everything... Everything... Everything gonna be all RIGHT this mornin'..."
-- Muddy Waters

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Steve Evil
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Postby Steve Evil » Sat Oct 08, 2005 1:38 pm

John:

von Hagens was a fascinating person. His manner was much more like an artist than a stereotypical scientist, even though he maintained he was strictly a scientist. He refered to Leonardo and others of the age in his pamphlet, and quoted famous philosophers and poets. He's very much a throwback to that way of thinking.Very much into the aesthetics of anatomy and the divinity of science. He would have been quite at home during the Enlightenment, or even more so in the Romantic period.

Check out my brief article at http://www.ryerson.ca/ryersonian.

Not sure I agree with you about talent. If it were only about effort, then any Tom, Dick or Harry who put pen to paper could come up with Hamlet, and I could sing like Paverotti by now.

AndI think Frank's it the nail on the head. Reminds me of the pianist who "wrote" an entire piece without notes. Infuriating because I myself have composed the very same piece and haven't made a dime off it.


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