HEY YOU! YES I MEAN YOU! IF YOU ARE JUST LOOKING FOR NAKED GIRLS HERE, GO AWAY AGAIN!
After the pieces of Kurt Schwitters and Hans Richter
the images of Jock Sturges cause sort of an anticlimax.
Bad art bashing just for the fun actually doesn’t make any sense to me.
In fact it does not make any sense to waste yout time on it.
But with the help of Jock Sturges I might find out, how to define bad art.
I am coming across his images again and again.
The first time at the gallery owner representing me that time,
about whom there is nothing to say but that it was advisable to count your fingers after having reached him your hand.
Alec Soth too mentioned Jock, as he called him,
and now he pops up again in a full-length documentary
by Christian Klinger and Daniela Krien, the makers of “amadelio”.
“In the past decades however beauty has been practically banned from art.
Today there are only a few artists who attempt to depict beauty.
As a result they are prey to the skeptical eye of the critic in search of inconsistencies.
An eye unable it seems to endure pure beauty.” (Amadelio)
Beauty in art,
that is not the mere reproduction of an obviously beautiful sunset,
or an obviously beautiful landscape,
not to speak of the photographed young female body,
for males are programmed to hold female bodies in the reproductive age for absolutely beautiful.
It’s biology, nothing else.
Beauty in art,
that doesn´t mean to trigger a Pavlovian response,
merely concealed by banalized quotes from art history.
An image, containing skillfully photographed banality,
the lady in classical pose,
her hand reaching out to an other hand,
summarizing the prototype you may find in the Sistine Chapel,
some springtime twigs,
a bed, white and clean, so to say innocent,
and a shadow between her legs.
This might be paradise, a paradise just existing in uninspired male dreams.
But these are not the images that Sturges fame is based on.
Actually he is primarily taking photographs of young girls.
Jock Sturges images are technically brilliant,
they have an air of cultured mannerism,
and are at their best very beautiful.
Light and shadow,
the smooth, skinny body down to her sex,
which I don’t want to be confronted with.
At the latest,
this is the point when the balance act between kitsch,
eroticism, and successful form is toppling over.
This girl may not replace the position of a woman in the fantasies of males.
Would this model be a grown up woman,
one would think of the usual calendar boasting with nudes,
and forget about this image immediately.
But here a girl is fulfilling the erotic pose of a woman,
and the irritation about this fact becomes the true and actual quality of this image.
Balthus images are irritating too.
He also touches this taboo connected with children exposed to sexual desire.
But in his case I get rid of my objections.
Balthus describes a spell bound,
intimately sensual girls-world,
where the girls stay girls,
without adopting erotic roll models of grown up women.
His paintings are gamely,
a man is stirring a fire in the background,
and because we relate everything to another assembled on an image,
we start to wonder about the relationship of the two.
Tension is building up.
Balthus is going even further than Sturges.
The shadowlike dog,
angled and spiky could have emanated from a child’s picture book.
Its triangular head fits in between thumb and forefinger of the girl.
The dog and the shadow of the table are corresponding.
The mood is charged, and latently aggressive.
The moon is lighting this wan scenery indirectly.
Invisible moon, but represented fully by a glowing clock face, reflected by a mirror.
A dreamlike, spellbound world with menacing undertones.
Balthus is not painting paradise.
He is articulating in his images the irritation that Sturges is generating.
Beauty in art,
that is a successful combination of form and content, bearing the singular handwriting of an artist, bearing his feelings and reflecting his thoughts.
Beauty in art can be ugly, still being beautiful.