Monday Modern Art Madness #1: Milton Resnick’s “Dying For Love”.

Hello Folks, and welcome to a new series that will hopefully serve to focus my work a bit more on art and aesthetics,and (sort of) distance it from the ugly trench warfare that is modern politics. What better way then to go against the grain of the usual “trad” Right-wing philistinism, and analyze some of my favorite pieces of “modern art”. I put that in scare-quotes because when people say “modern art”, there could be a whole plethora of ideas one might have; Modern art, like a myriad of terms (most notably “postmodernism”) means many different things to many different people.

For simplicity’s sake, lets say that modern art has a fluid definition that is not restricted to modernism alone as a movement. The term “Modern art” could also mean what most average people mean by the term, I.E. any piece of art that is contemporary, or at least any piece of art in the 19th, 20th and now 21st centuries. in some ways, this series will serve to be the anti-Paul Joseph Watson/ Alt-Light “Skeptic” attitude towards modern art. PJW, embarrassingly enough, is the premier example of all that is wrong with this one-dimensional dismissal of contemporary aesthetics from the Right. It is no wonder that His attitude towards the art world is a total parody. Let us be frank, the man probably has never read a book on contemporary art, and the meaning behind the various pieces he blasted on screen to ridicule, in his entire life! (a good critique of his attack on modern art can be found here ). This critique of how the modern online Right/anti-SJ-DUBYAs view the art world is in no way a defense of the art world as a whole, and furthermore, this is a topic for another article….

Milton Resnick always peaked my interest, and for a long time now, i have admired his work for its ability to stand out among the New York School of abstract expressionists. Being one of the youngest of the group, His art expanded well into the 90s when Ab-Ex all but petered out, or became what it is now, what some have sardonically dubbed “zombie formalism” .

While chic nihilism, minimalism and deconstruction was in vogue, Resnick rebelled and took his paintings down a more existential and romanticist path. When the art world scoffed at “kitsch” representation in favor of pure abstraction- Resnick combined the two and went his own way. He was even in open violation of the “action painting” ethos set out by daddy Pollack, preferring gestural strokes with more purpose and painterliness to them. He was ahead of His time and broke with the art world orthodoxy of the 60s, 70s and 80s, even infusing messianic spirituality into his works, escaping the cold and cynical consumer pastiches of the time. Even His artistic practices grated with convention by doing smaller painted sketches, similar to a representational artist. After doing a series of sketches, He would move on to the usual gigantic wall canvases of the New York School that would be painted several at a time, forgoing that element of automatist “spontaneity” in action painting for abstracted figures and deconstructed landscape scenes.

“Dying for love” is a good highlight of Resnick’s unique style of abstraction. Here we have an abstracted plain of earthly colors and greenery, almost reminiscent of a garden, with the added warmth of an orange sienna background. that color choice, as any landscape painter would know, is purposeful in its balancing of color harmony. And orange background will make any greens painted over it pop. in the center are broken and twisted figures, in particular the male figure, reaching with all his might out at a female demure image. in these quickly rendered palish grey figures, we find similar dramatic expressions you can find in Repin, or the prints and paintings of William Blake. The scene reminds you of a great Greek or biblical tragedy depicted by the old masters, a tale of ill-fated love lost, or the unrequited feelings of a man given a cold shoulder, screaming and prying to the heavens for his beloved. In some ways, you can almost see the female figure clutch her face in sorrow of her inner self not feeling the same way towards the male figure. I could be projecting my own sad-boyism onto this painting, but with a title like “dying for love”, it is safe to assume a great struggle, a great “demand to be loved” as Sartre said.

This concludes my first post of this series in a hopefully long line of modernist art that must be picked clean of discernible meaning. On a final note, it is quite daring for Resnick in His day to make such a work. The art world at the time abandoned such silly and “sentimentalist” notions of unrequited love. While art at the time increasingly expressed the inhuman in the post-war period, Resnick went the other way, and through the abstract, found the human once more.




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