Tag Archives: Art

Potent Quotables

George Dennis, however, though he too does not find much ‘art’ in Etruscan things, says of the Volterran ash-chests: ‘The touches of Nature on these Etruscan urns, so simply but eloquently expressed, must appeal to the sympathies of all—they are chords to which every heart must respond; and I envy not the man who can walk through this museum unmoved, without feeling a tear rise in his eye’

And recognizing ever and anon
The breeze of Nature stirring in his soul.

The breeze of Nature no longer shakes dewdrops from our eyes, at least so readily, but Dennis is more alive than Ducati to that which is alive. What men mean nowadays by ‘art’ it would be hard to say. Even Dennis said that the Etruscans never approached the pure, the sublime, the perfect beauty which Flaxman reached. Today, this makes us laugh: the Greekified illustrator of Pope’s Homer! But the same instinct lies at the back of our idea of ‘art’ still. Art is still to us something which has been well cooked—like a plate of spaghetti. An ear of wheat is not yet ‘art’. Wait, wait till it has been turned into pure, into perfect macaroni.

D. H. Lawrence, Etruscan Places

A Tale of Two Children

I was riding my bike through a random industrial part of town when I stumbled upon this (click then click to enlarge):
I was understandably puzzled. It turns out that this is a piece of public art by none other than famous Canadian artist Ken Lum, who happens to be the guy who taught the lecture portion of Visual Art 182 when I took it back in 2003. On the first day of class he introduced himself as Ken Lum, explained how he was a practicing artist, and deadpanned, “So if you’ve ever wondered what a real artist looks like, here you go. Sorry to disappoint.” His class was the first place I ever heard about the Gaze.

This piece is called “A Tale of Two Children.” It was commissioned by the city and sponsored by Grosvenor, a huge international property development and investment group. Most accounts claim that the piece references his experiences of growing up in a somewhat ghettoized Chinese-Canadian community; according to Robin Laurence of the Georgia Straight,

[I]t’s not clear what Lum is trying to tell us about language and culture as they affect parenting styles and expectations. There’s a provocative element in much of his work that does not find easy resolution in the mind of the viewer.

For me, it’s ambiguous message and unorthodox location made it more of a treat, especially considering the serendipity of its discovery.