for the

Art-rageous Attacks Against
Art and Artists
rtistic standards were abandoned, the comfortable cult of the mediocre prevailed,
and presentation became confused with substance."

J. D. Landis in Longing

And the Spring 2003 CARAMEL goes jointly to...




...two half-baked art theoreticians and aspiring literary luminaries...

...for their distortions, assumptions, claims, accusations, aberations, extrapolations, exagerations, inuendo, insinuations, interpretations, misinterpretations, acts of faith, leaps of faith, leaps of imagination, flights of fancy, faulty logic, misinformation, lapses in information, poor documentation, absence of mind, factual bad research, manipulations, lack of presence, lack of historical perspective,
all of which amount to absolutely nothing.

Welcome to the misinformation highway!

Legends in their own minds. Pleanty of pomp and circumstance(-ial evidence), arrogance and banality here.
Ms Cornwell takes us on a fishing expedition, lauunching accusation upon defamatory accusation against a man,
long dead and unable to defend himself, of an artistic stature she will surely never achieve;
Mr. Hockney on an art-histerycal search for that which is already, unbeknownst to him, well documented.

First to Ms Cornwell, that racontour of mystery dramas. Surely she figured she could approach historical writing from the top down rather than from the bottom up and could apply the kind of mental acrobatics she would in her admittedly fictional novels. So she decides on an ending and sets out, come hell or high water, to make it so. The problem is that she cannot force the pieces into the puzzle because they simply do not fit. Unfortunately for Ms Cornwell, she proves to be no 'Kay Scarpetta.'
Patricia Cornwall conducting deep research for her "Portrait of a Killer...."

Walter Sickert
I am referring, of course to the highly speculative theory she puts forth in her slanderous diatribe "Portrait of a Killer - Jack the Ripper, Case Closed", where she proposes that the infamous Jack the Ripper was none other than the artist Walter Sickert with the kind of vehemence, vitriol and vindictiveness more commonly associated with spurned lovers. So virulent are her attacks on Sickert, so obsessed she is with the man, so convinced is she of this figment of her imagination, that she has purchased a number his works which she promises to destroy. With impunity she claims to to hold key scientific evidence tying Sickert to the serial murderer who, in 1888, mutilated a number of prostitutes in the back streets of London. Not since Ariana Huffington's "Picasso: Creator and Destroyer" has there been such rank manipulation of fact in the pursuit of fantasy. What the woman's problem is is anybody's guess but there might be an inkling in her assumptions about Sickert's sexuality. But it precisely the obssessive nature of this pursuit, the worst enemy of objectiviity, that trips her.

She dismisses all previous research in forwarding her spurious claims. She believes that the year or so she has
devoted to the study of "Ripperology" and her considerable financial investment endow her with sufficient authority to
outweigh years of dedicated investigation already in evidence.

Her "evidence" begins with Sickert's subject matter, often depicting the sort of female character victimized by the Ripper. Never mind that prostitutes and brothels were a favorite theme, not only in Victorian England, but of turn-of-the-century depictions everywhere. Her claim that Sickert could not have seen existing crime scene photographs because they were unavailable in London is an assumption against fact. The very photographs she claims as evidence of prior knowledge had been pulished and widely distributed in France where Sickert often spent his summers. And the fact that Sickert Sickkert was spending his time in France, not England, at the time most of the murders were commited she dismisses insisting that he could have been commuting to London to committ them. Swimming the channel, perhaps?
Even the DNA "evidence" she touts turns out to be noevidence at all. Rather than the definitive individual-specific nuclear DNA used in positive identifications, she ends up turning to mitochondrial DNA lifted from letters allegedly sent by the Ripper one in every 10,000 Londoners would've had. Not to mention that most of the supposed Ripper letters are faux. And that said letters were written in stationary made by the same company as that Sickert and his wife had at home, Caleb Carr easily disposes of in his New York Times review of 15 December 2002 by pointing out that the paper in question was so commom that it would be as if "david Berkowitz's famous 'Son of Sam' letters ...had been written on a Hallmark card."

Talk "Trashy Tricia"!!! In the end, not even Ms Cornball swallows this wad admiting: "The Ripper case is not one to
be conclusively solved by DNA or fingerprints."

Mr. Caleb, in his review concludes: "Portrait of a Killer" is a sloppy book, insulting to both its target and its audience."
I would ad spurious and defamatory to a major talent of the turn of the last century, a status Ms Cornwall
will certainly
never achieve at the turn of this one.



Where has this man been? I mean both in the academic as well as in the artistic sense. Not that he's "toast of the town"
these days... David WHO? So..., let's kick up a fuss: THE MASTERS CHEATED!!!
Such is the insiniuation of Davi Hackney's "Secret Knowledge".

Let's start with basics. what matters in Art is not so much the method but the end result. Using whatever tools are at one's
disposal,especially at times rich with experimentation and innovation, is hardly cheating. Had Leonardo had a projector
or a Mac G4 I'm sure he would've used it. And to what advantage!!! That Leonerdo may have had designs of caameras oscuras
or lucidas should come as no surprise. What did Davinci NOT have designs for? He also had designs for flying machines he
never flew and submarines he never sumerged and parachutes he never wore.

Camera oscura

The use of "aids" is well documented. Which begs the question: Where has Mr.Hockney been living. California, no doubt... He appears to have just discovered the long list of artifacts artists have used over the ages to produce untold masterpieces. That Carvaggio used mirrors to help in creating a picture plain is well documented even in popular literature. It's described at length by Peter Robb in "M" The Man Who Became Caravaggio where he lists the inventory of Caravaggio's apartment,
abandoned after he flees Rome. In it there are listed a number of mirrors the master owned including a convex one used in producing his image of the head of the Medusa (purportedly a sel-portrait, by the way) on a parade shield which is concave presently on view at the Uffizi.

What does he think all the squaring and scoring in old master drawings is all about if not transference?

Neither is it a secret that Johannes Vermeer used a camera oscura. A visit to Vermeer House in Delft would have enlightened him. There you have it, an entire display demomstrating Vermeer's practice, checkerboard tiling and all. Tracy Chevalier discusses it in some detail in "The Girl with the Pearl Earing". Then, Tracy Chevalier did her homework. Yet all of this baffles and is new to David Hockney, arts darling of the '70s. HE, according to HIM, has just discovered it all.

And much like the afore-mentioned Partcia Cornball, he goes on the guest-show circuit to expound endlessly on the matter.
Never quite figured out why such peopleinsis on putting their ignorance on display in such a way. Probaly because they ARE ignorant
of their ignorance
. And the blather continues about tracery and line and all sorts of hype paraded as "evidence",
smokin' gun theorist that he is.

He get's into Ingres' practices and tricks. Mr. Hackney should have Ingres' facility of line. Why bother with all the equipment
to come up with such marvelous distortion. Perhaps according to Mr Hackney, Ingres' marvelous distortions are the result
of Ingres' use of gadgetry. Could HE ever do so as convincingly.

Too bad that POP CELEBRITY so often passes for ART SCHOLARSHIP in the eyes of the masses! Praise from New York Magazine,
that art forum of generation X! To repeat Caleb Carr's reprimand of "Portrait of a Killer...", this too "is a sloppy book,
insulting to both its target and its audience." And so, except to David Hackney,
Secret Knowledge turns out to be

The NERVE of these two


...is the inspiration for our less than inspiring monthly award. Here we do NOT discriminate. There are no sacred cows. High and low beware!

Our CARAMEL statuette is derived from the traditional cagané figure or 'shitter' from the northeastern Spanish region of Cataluña where no manger scene can be found without one. It's attributes are far more prosaic here.

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