25 Portals…new book

Posted in art, books on October 20th, 2017 by Ira Altschiller – Comments Off on 25 Portals…new book

A new book on the iBooks Store – check it out!

iBooks Store link: 25 Extraordinary Portals in Space Time

Ohad Naharin, Mr. Gaga

Posted in art, ideas on June 17th, 2017 by Ira Altschiller – Comments Off on Ohad Naharin, Mr. Gaga

The documentary Mr. Gaga is now on Netflix. It is about the Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin. Naharin comes out of a physical culture – Feldenkreis therapy and psychodrama psychology / acting via mom and dad respectively.

His language of dance is called Gaga. He wants dancers to express from the inside, to fulfill metaphors then manifested in their movements. The dancers don’t watch themselves in mirrors – they don’t objectify themselves. They are instead vessels of feeling expressed physically.

“The descriptions that are used to guide the dancers through the improvisation are intended to help the dancer initiate and express movement in unique ways from parts of the body that tend to be ignored in other dance techniques.”

As it presents Gaga fits somewhere between Twyla Tharp and Jerome Robbins. Both Tharp and Robbins were Balanchine dancers – they touched colossal genius. The best trained dancers came from the New York City Ballet. The wonderful crew of dancers Naharin has assembled provide a rich palette for this talented man.

If Tharp invokes rag-dolls, with the ironic humor and hard won looseness that implies, Naharin’s punctuated epileptic fits, robo-moves and sinuous expressiveness are an impressive addition to the language of dance. The great and primary form of dance.

Bob Dylan’s Nobel Speech

Posted in art, pop culture, writers-poetry on June 10th, 2017 by Ira Altschiller – Comments Off on Bob Dylan’s Nobel Speech

There’s been discussion about the Nobel Prize being given to Bob Dylan as not being appropriate. That Dylan does not achieve the heights of great writers and poets. It’s a conservative argument about standards. I don’t reject those arguments as conserving what is great from the past separates us from animals. But having standards doesn’t mean rejecting anything new out of hand.

Dylan himself questions the validity of his receiving the award. This more than anything, more even than his humility in laying out so many others as influential in his development, giving them credit at the table, shows the man’s character and seriousness. It is said, “We all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us.”

It is true that Dylan grew out of the pop/folk culture. But he aspired, was influenced by the fine arts; he absorbed some of the lessons of the spectacular achievements of the west.

He mentions as strong influences Moby Dick, John Donne, All Quiet on the Western Front, Homer – his influences are numerous, various and unassailable. There is something modest and touchingly forthright about his references to all those to whom he feels in debt. 

But Dylan doesn’t just refer to high art, but to pop culture as well, because at this period, pop culture has such a huge impact on people as they develop. Buddy Holly, Robert Johnson (the great blues singer), New Lost City Ramblers, Leadbelly.

Dylan says “ I wanted to know all about it and play that kind of music. I still had a feeling for music I’d grown up with, but for right now, I forgot about it…They were different than the radio songs I’d been listening to all along. They were more vibrant and truthful to life. With radio songs, a performer might get a hit with a roll of the dice or a fall of the cards, but that didn’t matter in the folk world.”

Dylan internalized it. “You sing it in the ragtime blues, work songs, Georgia sea chanties, Appalachian ballads and cowboy songs. You hear all the finer points and you learn the details.”

Some have questioned whether the obscurity of some of Dylan’s lyric references are meaningless patter. They quote Dylan as saying that, “I don’t know what they [the lyrics] mean.” Of course, Nobel laureate Milosz said the same thing. People would come to Milosz and ask what his poems meant and he would say that is not how it works. That he did not know what they meant. You aren’t illustrating ideas. You are opening a portal of feeling and spirit.

We may not really understand why Van Gogh painted with such crude haste, such un-nuanced explosive images. But the reason Van Gogh persists is that anyone looking at his images without prejudice can see the intensity of feeling, the spirit in struggle. That isn’t a meaning, it is a direct expression sensed from one person to another. It is the bridge between souls which art enables.

New Digital Gallery

Posted in art, gallery, jolly days news on July 7th, 2015 by Ira Altschiller – Comments Off on New Digital Gallery




Many of the digital images in the above galleries can be purchased as prints:

Digital Print Store here @PaintedMatter (new)

Offsite Print Store @Saatchi

New on the iBookstore: Twenty Five Miles to True North

Posted in art, books on May 4th, 2015 by Ira Altschiller – Comments Off on New on the iBookstore: Twenty Five Miles to True North


Twenty-Five Miles to True North
(link takes you to iTunes)

“Twenty-Five Miles To True North” is a “Children’s Book for Adults.”

The radical play of imagination in these 13 unforgettable “journeys” will stay with you. The stories are a form-breaking, original mix of absurdist humor, Kafkaesque/Borgesian surrealism, pop culture references, which possess an underlying compassion. The tales in “Twenty-Five Miles To True North” affirm love and embrace the mystery of things.

These compelling, often deeply felt landscapes, offer surprising turns. The unnamed narrator is usually accompanied by a beautiful companion, who sometimes becomes just a sweet voice. Hovering, offering advice and protection, all the while teasing the narrator.

From the first form-breaking story we are launched into a landscape of bickering rabbits who warn of horrors ahead—prognosticators of doom. There is a suggestive story about a chaos machine which is also about public presentations. There is a landscape of lost things, mysterious Victorian ladies singing a song of healing enchantment, a crystallographer and his bionic pet—even a parade float in a basement.

PREVIEW, “ISLAND”, ebook on the iBookstore

Posted in art, books, videos on July 21st, 2014 by Ira Altschiller – Comments Off on PREVIEW, “ISLAND”, ebook on the iBookstore

This is a preview @youtube of “ISLAND, Eleven Lost Islands, A Summary Report”

If this vid produces an error try viewing it on YouTube:
ISLAND @youtube

“ISLAND” iBookstore link: ibookstore

Philip Roth: Finding Form

Posted in art, ideas on June 1st, 2014 by admin – Comments Off on Philip Roth: Finding Form

Quotes from Philip Roth about finding form and shape:

About the work…

“I am a turner of sentences. That’s my life. I write a sentence and then I turn it around. Then I look at it and I turn it around again. Then I have lunch. Then I come back in and write another sentence. Then I have tea and turn the new sentence around. Then I read the two sentences over and turn them both around. Then I lie down on my sofa and think. Then I get up and throw them out and start from the beginning.”

If you paint as opposed to write, you walk around, look away, look out the window, imagine the work from another room. The image simmers, percolates in the background, forming up for you, if you let it.

About objectivity…

“Obviously the facts are never just coming at you but are incorporated by an imagination that is formed by your previous experience. Memories of the past are not memories of facts but memories of your imaginings of the facts.”

We are clouds of energy, on the subatomic level; we derive our self-definition, our ego, from a chaos of experience – we form our chaotic experiences into words and images and adhere them to stories we tell about ourselves, to ourselves, and others.

Teller’s Friend Is Vermeer

Posted in art, ideas, pop culture on January 30th, 2014 by Ira Altschiller – Comments Off on Teller’s Friend Is Vermeer

Teller of Penn and Teller was on Tavis Smiley promoting his movie about a geek trying to replicate Vermeer. Teller does not come across well. He doesn’t understand art (his parents were “artists”?!), nor the context of Vermeer’s talent, nor the obsessive self-absorption of their friend who tried to “discover” Vermeer’s talent in technology. Their friend has too much time on his hands.

Vermeer came out of a context of artists with great talent who honed those talents over years. Vermeer’s sensibility, where light became a subject and the world as pearl metaphor realized, was inspired. The simplified presentation in Vermeer’s work is borne of the taste and talent of his age. Like Bach, Vermeer perfected the trends of his age. Vermeer’s work was done by his spirit and mind, not his hand and technology. To Teller Vermeer’s work “looks like a photograph”. But in reality, the many simplifications and decisions made in Vermeer’s imagery has nothing to do with the detailed approximations of reality (as perceived by the mind) in photography.

If Teller, or his friend, really think something has been discovered that leads to creating a Vermeer, well, let’s see them do it. Crude approximations of Vermeer’s genius, derived from Vermeer’s sensibility, yet claiming equivalence, could only exist in a self-absorbed pop culture. I suppose this means if Tavis steps on a basketball court, then gosh, he’s Michael Jordan. We’re all just folks. Anyone could do it. You just have to build a machine to be Vermeer, or play a lot of basketball to be Michael Jordan.

Its been theorized for years that Vermeer used a camera obscura, a device which replicates a room size camera. Of course, Degas used photos. And Sargent was influenced by them. Zorn as well. No doubt The Diner had its origin in Hopper’s exposure to photos. Even the dramatic compositions of  Eisner’s seminal comic, The Spirit, were influenced by Hitchcock-like angle shots.

The goofball leap of saying artists of old were aware and influenced by the technologies of their time, so therefore their work could have been done by anyone, requires a leap of narcissism which would be laughable in a more mature age.

Inadvertently, Smiley said it all, summarizing the impulse: “If Vermeer was a genius then that depresses me because I can’t do that”. So Teller, and a condescending, politically driven agenda of, “we are all just folks,” needs to diminish achievement to make themselves feel better. Yeah, Vermeer didn’t earn it. “Genius is toxic”, and gosh, we’re good enough and smart enough and…

Self-aggrandizing mediocrity masquerading as egalitarianism.

Art Library

Posted in art, ideas on January 29th, 2014 by admin – Comments Off on Art Library

Borrowing art the way people borrow books from the library is not a bad idea. It’s being tried in Germany.

Probably prints provided by the artist would be the way to go, rather than through galleries, which are an unreliable filter anyway. Any “curating” will probably do more harm than good — other than the usual cautions public institutions need to take as to subject matter.

Exposure for the artist a plus. People don’t go to libraries the way they used to, the minus.

German art libraries – “artotheks”

1729, The Taxicab Number

Posted in art, ideas, science on January 1st, 2014 by Ira Altschiller – Comments Off on 1729, The Taxicab Number

In this video Simon Singh explains the taxicab number (Simpsons), 1729.

The real story is that of Ramanujan, his astonishing genius, his sad and victorious journey as a mathematical genius. Singh has been on PBS explaining this and that – Simon has a real gift for explaining stuff, making the abstract into human stories.

Ramanujan’s genius unites the aesthetic and scientific. Ramanujan had an intuitive sense of the underlying order of the world.

Wiki writes that Ramanujan said, “An equation for me has no meaning, unless it represents a thought of God.”

Kafka’s Wish

Posted in art, ideas on November 16th, 2013 by admin – Comments Off on Kafka’s Wish

“I never wish to be easily defined. I’d rather float over other people’s minds as something strictly fluid and non-perceivable; more like a transparent, paradoxically iridescent creature rather than an actual person.”
-Franz Kafka

(via artistsintheclassroom5)