April 5, 2009


This post now resides on my other site 50 Watts:


  1. Thanks for reminding us of this! I just realized I'll be in NYC while it's on exhibit. Very YAY!

  2. so envious... but glad you got to see the show !
    is there an exhibition catalogue or any great new books that come with?

  3. I anticipate a catalog!

    The Zurn show starts the 17th. I noticed Ubu Gallery has a Bellmer exhibit going on now, but it ends this Friday. It would have been nice to go from one to the other and then back home to cry myself to sleep.

    I'm still feeling salty about missing the Kubin show. Luckily, a good friend wants to see the Zurn show too, so there's no way in hell I'll miss it.

  4. Wow, very envious too,am a big fan and very much hoping there is a catalogue, i did manage to pick up a copy of a 1998 publication by Verlag Brinkmann & Bose in Berlin of works from 1953-1970. Very extensive body of works included, text in german. I will scan some images at my blog from this one again soon..
    thank you for all the great postings here, the Zurns especially and enjoy the show!

  5. The thought of a Family Art Workshop associated with a Unica Zürn show is decidedly unsettling. Is it supposed to be some sort of art therapy for suicidal youth? (Sorry, I couldn't resist that bit, but... I mean, otherwise I'm envisioning parents tying up their offspring in duplication of those Bellmer photos of Zürn, and other things like that.)

  6. *Gasp!* Oh no she didn't...

    I know what you mean though -- I have a rather fixed view of Zurn/Bellmer as being the fringe beyond which there is empty void, and the life stories are so damn awful.

    Having said that, it would be cool to see the art that comes out of this workshop. ("Children ages 9 to 12, accompanied by an adult, are invited to participate in an art-making activity and discussion inspired by" the exhibit.) The curators/organizers are brave and perhaps genius.

  7. Well, I can definitely imagine my 11-year-old self getting into the spirit, albeit without adult accompaniment, PLEASE, but 9 or 10... well, I don't know, maybe kids are more twisted and pubescent at an earlier age now. I would have been totally into Zürn when I was 11 (madness has a great appeal), whereas now I do tend to see her as (as you put it) the fringe on the edge of the void. I'm glad not to be either artist.

  8. wow, this conversation is great...

    i agree - the life story of bellmar/zürn is really pretty awful..
    i think this is why i tend not to be as much a fan of her writings as with her drawings, as words give a much more graphic reflection of this world...
    but i am in fact "drawn" to her drawings - which feel delicate and intuitive.

    perhaps one good thing that might come out of the family workshop (if nothing else) is that it allows children to employ their own form of automatic drawing? which i think is a good thing, despite the artist's own history...

  9. gossamer, good point on the automatic drawing angle. Less biographical detail, more pen technique. (And NO Bellmer photos.) Because I first encountered her through Man of Jasmine, I tend to think of Zürn as a writer, and it was only in the last year I saw good duplications of the art and realized how amazing she was. I love the writing, but I have to be in a masochistic mood to return to it.

    Karla -- I was running through my past too: I must have been 11 or 12 when I read Clive Barker's Books of Blood? And even though my parents tried to shield me from horror movies, my friends' parents sure didn't -- I saw the Exorcist WAY too young, and then every Friday the 13th knockoff ever made by 7th grade. But the thought of watching such things with an adult let alone a parent -- true horror.

    Sudden thought: From a teaching perspective, Zürn's narrative would probably be treated like Van Gogh's narrative. I feel like I was taught from a young age that he was crazy and cut his ear off and killed himself. (I could be deluding myself, but you know what I'm getting at.)

    One more: if this becomes a classroom event, imagine the impossibly delicate wording of the permission slip.

    Karla, not sure if you were reading the blog back then: check out this post on the Brecht/Grosz kid's book.

  10. The Brecht/Grosz collaboration is inspired, but again I wouldn't want to give it to children under the age of sullenness, rebellion, and idealistic cynicism. Once they reach that age, well, anything is fair game.

    I'm quite content not to be teaching anyone under the age of 17-18. The other night was odd enough when I had a prospective student and her dad visiting my Intro to Modern class when I was teaching feminist art of the 70s and the slides included the C.U.N.T. Cheerleaders and Lynda Benglis's nude photo with dildo. I guess if art history enrollment drops next year it will be my fault. (Speaking of Van Gogh, I have to talk about him first thing in the morning, but to a different class... Yes, what will I say about his ear that won't be stupid?)

  11. sorry to interject again, but...

    very true, will - good point about van gogh, and definitely NO bellmar!

    karla, if i were to be going back to school and enrolling again, i'd want nobody other than you teaching art history ! (with a special request for czech art history).

  12. p.s. pardon the mispelling... meant to write bellmer instead of the incorrect version i worded as bellmar...

  13. Gossamer, well you could always sit in, but who knows when I'll next get to do a whole Czech class. Still, I always stick some Czech art nouveau, cubism, and surrealism into Intro to Modern and I did give the 19th-c class a dose of the decadents.

    I am mostly going to avoid discussing Van Gogh's ear. I'm sure they've already heard about it.

  14. I'm having fun imagining the dad's reaction to the "C.U.N.T. Cheerleaders." We all know the prospective student was horrified because her dad was there.

    Listening to synth music and googling Lynda Benglis. Good times.

  15. I'm relieved that tomorrow's Powerpoint is now uploaded and I can give up hope of grading any more late papers tonight. The dad didn't look likely to be alarmed by by the C.U.N.T. Cheerleaders but yes, daughter probably wanted to sink into the floor wondering what she had done.

    Lynda Benglis is mostly known as a fairly abstract sculptor as I'm sure you've found by now, but the photo ad w/ dildo is famous. From about 1975 if I remember correctly. It's always torn out of library copies of the magazine (Artforum?). I found my reproduction of it somewhere online but can't remember just where.

    Oh well, I'm always raising a little hell somewhere... it seems to go over well here at least.