Page 16 - Studio International - July August 1973
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further remark that the viewer is free to   material in a meaningful order. He rejects the   Directing the ICA:
       speculate how the painting might have      usual narrative textbook institutional history
       continued across either vertical edge. The united   and follows instead a synchronic, that is `point   six paths to
       image is one in which the camera pan forms a   in time', history with just enough temporal   optimism
       ‘ rebus, a representation of words by pictures, of   breadth of coverage to allow a full view of
       what is at that edited moment being said.   relationships in the constant process of
         Though de Antonio is at liberty to assemble   evolution and change.                Peter Cook
       Ibis assortment of raw material in any way — he   The discussing of collecting, for instance, and
       seldom respects chronology, for example — his   the issue of whether the galleries shape the art
       details do not violate the relations of the whole   market, a discussion which includes
       from which they are abstracted. They heighten   appearances by Leo Castelli, the Sculls, and
       comprehension. Hence the zoom from the    Philip Johnson, is tucked into the discussion of
       detail of vertical panels and lines to the   Pop Art, because chronologically Castelli and
       whole Mondrian-esque face and figure of the   the Sculls achieve eminence in the New York
       Tenth Avenue telephone company building or   art market at that particular point and
       the shot of a central section of a Jasper Johns   synchronically because they are, by their own
       three colour American flag—maintaining all the   telling of events and by de Antonio's
       colour and spatial relations of the whole.   conception of painting, significant dialectical
       Theoretically this is the epitomizing function of   elements in discovering the why and the what
       the close-up, and it is not unrelated to the   and in determining the fate and the life span of
       Brechtian construction of character through   Pop as 'painting' in its time.
       elision and montage.                        Of course the purpose of the film is dual. The
         In selection he shows a special fondness for   recapitulation of the history of New York
        ural and visual replication in a manner   painting presented more or less verbally with
        eminiscent of Rauschenberg's Factum I and   colour illustrations is an end in itself as well as a
       Factum II which are shown in the film. (This   means to a dialectical explanation of the
       was the very basis of Point of Order in which he   gerund, 'painting'. But the standard, that is
        howed the basic tactical identity of the   diachronic, presentation of history alone denies
        dversaries, Senators McCarthy and        the important dialectical conceptions of the
       Symington and the lawyer Joseph Welch in the   ubiquity and over-all sameness of capitalist
       Army-McCarthy hearings.) Though            relations and the simultaneity of events, so it is
       Emschwiller set up most of the interviewees for   inappropriate as a framework for de Antonio's
       the camera, de Antonio placed Ethel Scull on a   definitions.
       couch and Robert Scull behind it in imitation   It is just this dual historical interest and
       of the George Segal portrait of the Sculls. In   collage tactic and especially the making of
       one shot Rauschenberg pats a wall as Helen   dialectical definitions which link Painters
       Frankenthaler had in an earlier shot. These   Painting to the rest of de Antonio's work, the
       visual replications prepare us to make     more overtly political films, Point of Order on
       discriminating judgments on more complex   the tactics of the participants in the Army-
       replications : Johns's targets and Noland's   McCarthy hearings; Rush to Judgment, a legal   I am an optimist.
       targets; de Kooning's use of newspaper and   brief of the case against the Warren Commission   Optimism leads to some strange, heady,
       Rauschenberg's use of newspaper;           Report on the Kennedy assassination; In the   sacrificial, narcissistic and sometimes politic
       Frankenthaler's response to Cezanne's apples   Year of the Pig on America's involvement in the   situations. And sometimes you are sitting there :
       °and Newman's response; her response to    war in Vietnam and the peculiar debasement of   `This is absurd, here we are posed around a
       Hoffman's `push-pull' and Stella's response;   English rhetoric arising from that involvement;   table, when the sun is shining outside. Time is
       Scull as patron and de Antonio himself as   America Is Hard to See on Eugene McCarthy's   running by, and we all know each other's game'.
       patron, impresario, confidante; Newman's and   Presidential candidacy; Mulhouse; A White   But then we must be reasonable. This is
       Motherwell's and Stella's propositions    Comedy on Richard Nixon and the rhetoric   England. We must wait and listen to everyone.
       regarding gestalt perception and the 'painterly'   and tactics of American politicking; and   Even if time is precious.
       surface; the age of the painters of the first   the BBC documentary, That's Where the   A total idea: arrogance. A definitive position:
       generation of Abstract Expressionism at the   Action Is (their title), on the last New York   embarrassing.
       time of their first one-man shows and that of the   mayoral election. Painters Painting is both an   Optimism: the guy must be a fool : rather
       'Pop artists and colour field painters; the   extension of his method and an exposition   sweet — but he'll grow out of it.
       response of all the painters to received art   by analogy of his method, because the potential   Optimism is for kids and dreamers.
       historical tradition and our viewing of the   for political impact in film is not in advocacy   If one has to be labelled as a dreamer, let's turn
       paintings and our judgment of the veracity of   smeared across the surface of filmic content nor   it to advantage. One's mind can legitimately
       their reports of their responses, and so on.   is it in, supposedly neutral, that is mechanical,   wander outside the stuffy room and the
         Sometimes the comparisons are cut end to   reproduction of physical detail (or ideational   democratic timewaste. Dreaming, we can
       end while other shots or propositions at widely   detail were it possible to photograph, paint or   conceive a mandate for an Institute of
       divergent points within the film emerge as   otherwise reproduce it), but in perceiving the   Contemporary Arts that has some audacity and
       having comparative rather than absolute truth   relational basis of artistic perception, the   does not get bogged-down in comparisons with
       i nd similar elements acquire dissimilar   historical frameworks for giving meaning to   the old days of Dover Street, or what the
       aesthetic impact. The collage method, a
                                                                                            Hayward might have done. Dreams without the
                                                  those perceptions, and the emergent forms given
       dialectical method, that is a philosophic method,   by artists, painters and film-makers, to those   paranoia of whether we are doing the right thing
       of assembling sound and picture 'takes' which   meanings. In short presenting the viewer with a   by everybody.
       themselves have no inherent linear sequence,   method for deciding what in his own life is real   We're not.
       enables de Antonio to present historical    and which is ideology.                   Now we can proceed.
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