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Friday, March 28, 2014

Under Funk & Wagnall's Front Porch

Yes, Dr. Isaac K. Funk once lived in this house on Staten Island.
This may or may not have
his mayonnaise jar.
Recently it has come to my attention that one of my readers has been using some kind of postal time machine he's invented to send my daily missives to a certain 19th century artist in Paris. And while I'm flattered (I think), I'm also somewhat uneasy in knowing my words might somehow "warp" the history of art. Still more disconcerting is the fact that our Parisian friend has written back, taking me to task for some (much, actually) of what I've written. Inasmuch he obviously has no Internet access, I was instructed to find his written comments in a hermetically sealed mayonnaise jar under Funk & Wagnall's front porch (with kudos to Johnny Carson). In the belief that this artist should be heard, I've decided to post his comments here (discreetly edited) interspersed with comments in my own defense (in yellow).

Bon jour Monsieur Lane:

I have read with great interest your kind words regarding my painting skills, though I think you have somewhat overestimated my influence over my art colleagues and young artists yet to come. At least I hope that's the case.

I must, however, take issue with your constantly blaming Paul and I for what you have the audacity to term "modern" art. If what I've seen of "modern" art is the shape of things to come, then Pardonnez-moi, but I shall forever reject such reckless nothingness in favor of "old-fashioned" art.
Which leads me to wonder what examples of Modern Art have been forwarded to him, not to mention the wisdom of his having been exposed to what can only be termed "art of the future" as related to his time.

My friends and I down at the Café Guerbois often discuss the direction in which our art, painting in particular, is taking us. Not even the most radical among us, Monsieur Monet or Monsieur Renoir, or that rascal, Edgar Degas, could ever embrace such a horrendous degradation as you routinely present and praise in your misbegotten column.

I'm guessing, due to his mention of the Café Guerbois, that his comments appear to have been written sometime in the late 1860s or early 1870s.

Furthermore, I am insulted that you would associate me with the likes of this imbecilic Senor Pic-ass-o or his friend Monsieur Braque. Even that trou du cul (pain in the posterior) Louis Duranty, whom I almost shot and killed the other night, has been kinder to me than your despicable implication that I have been somehow responsible for what you term "Cubism." You can consider yourself fortunate you live in the 20th century not my own or a similar fate might befall YOU!
Yes, I am, indeed, fortunate in that regard (in more ways than one). However, maybe I should get a concealed carry permit, just in case.

Although I'm starting to come to terms with regard to this new "Impressionist" merde crap. and even starting to respect Paul Cezanne's crude daubs, about the only example of your so-called "modern" art I've seen which I find at all acceptable comes from a talented amateur named Vincent (sorry, I can't recall the last name). He shows some promise, though I'm told he's something of a ne'er-do-well personally. Several of the mademoiselles I know and advise are far, more talented and technically adept. Berthe Morisot and my student, Eva Gonzales, as well as Mary Cassatt will, I'm sure, far outshine this Vincent character in the future.
Although it would seem our friend's begrudging appreciation of "Vincent" (I'm assuming he means van Gogh) is quite perceptive, I suppose it's not surprising that he hates Picasso (who probably hadn't even been born yet when his words above were apparently written). Even many artists of his own time had little good to say about Picasso. 
Despite my abhorrence of your "modern" art and your totally misplaced opinion regarding any intrinsic value it might have, I do find your own painting efforts to be quite promising. You should go far, young man, if you can just manage to keep your ignorant critical musing to yourself. I know little regarding your educational background, but even though you seem to be able to string words together with some degree of literary aptitude, I find your aesthetic judgments to be the height of stupidity.
Thanks...I think. As you may have noticed I've deliberately held back the identity of my "guest commentator" in something of a game, curious as to how many people are sufficiently well-versed in this mid-century era of art history. If you think you know who he might be (or are certain you know), go ahead and click on the title under picture of the artist's wife below to reveal his name.
The Artist's Wife, 1866

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