Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Rober Hughes: The man, the mystery, and the motorcycle.

Last week's turnout for Shock of the New was phenomenal!  We are in awe of the support we are receiving, and are happy to keep this going for six more weeks. This week's installment will be covering The Landscape of Pleasure – Jeff Kalstrom, a UMD Drawing and Painting professor, will be speaking afterwards.  We hope to see you there at 11am at the Zinema Theater; and of course this is FREE and open to the public.

This week we would just like to talk about Robert Hughes.  If you couldn't make it to the first showing of Shock of the New, or merely need a refresher, here is the opening scene of the series:  On What Art Is

Although we don't have a vocab word included in our visual representation of Hughes this week, he does use the word prognosticate in his introductionary rant.

prognosticate [prɒgˈnɒstɪˌkeɪt]vb
1. to foretell (future events) according to present signs or indications; prophesy
2. (tr) to foreshadow or portend

You can most definitely tell that Hughes is not just lecturing on the history of modern art, his lectures are filled to the brim with his opinion.  Although you might not always agree with Hughes' views you can't deny that he is strong personality who is extremely entertaining to watch. Here are some interesting facts about the man behind the documentary:

Born in Sydney, Australia in 1938
  • Studied arts and architecture at the University of Sydney
  • Moved to Great Britain in the 1960s to write for the Spectator, the Telegraph, the Times and the Observer, before landing the position of art critic for Time Magazine in 1970.
  •  Some books that he has written include:
    • The Shock of the New (1981)
    • The Fatal Shore (1987)
    • Culture of Complaint (1993)
    • American Visions: The Epic History of Art in America (1997) 
  • Hughes' son, Danton, was named after the painter Georges Danton.  Danton was a fairly well known sculptor until his untimely death at the age of 34; his son committed suicide by remaining in the closed garage while his car was running.
  • Hughes was involved in a near-fatal car accident in 1999 near Sydney, which may have added to the slightly negative light he cast on Australia in his documentary: Australia, Beyond the Fatal Shore.
  • Hughes was married three times; his most recent marriage being to the famous painter Doris Downes.
  • Whilst at university, Hughes was part of the left-wing intellectual sub-culture in Sydney called the Sydney Push.  The Push was comprised of artists, poets, journalists, philosophers, musicians, lawyers and even career criminals, who typically gathered in pubs to organize large political demonstrations and protests. 
  • Here's an article he wrote about "Tuna Suprise" for the New York Times.

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