Musings of the Mad

I recently found some notebooks from my time in college. It’s nice to think that you’ve changed over time, matured, and found some wisdom. But these notebooks prove two things: I haven’t changed since I was 20 years old, and I was clearly insane. While other students were hastily taking notes about Roland Barthes, I was intently drawing the objects I deemed “mean.” The notebooks reveal a person obsessed with bizarre trivial ideas. Why did I create a narrative where Georgia O’Keefe serves me toast? I catalogued the world around me, which Southern California of the early 80s was new wave Vals (Valley teens), Bevs (Beverly Hills teens), and their shopping habits. I also include a page on semiotics to prove that while I was busy drawing LA Eyeworks sunglasses, I was also trying to understand structuralism.

The sad part of this, or the good part depending on your point of view is that my current notebook is no better. Today I finished a rather intricate drawing of a riverboat during a meeting.

The Shape of Air

There are not too many things in life that make me angry. I like to think I am fairly even. Those of you close to me can stop snickering. But, there are a couple of things that make me furious. I want to slug someone when I’m doing a lecture at school, and he or she is texting or working on the computer. I know they aren’t taking notes; they’re shopping or chatting with friends.  I hate people who drive with the seat so far forward that they are two inches from the steering wheel, and think 15 mph is too fast. And I really get mad when I suggest that a student takes time to look at the work of someone, and they don’t, and their project still sucks the next week.

When anyone is having trouble with shapes, I send them to look at A.M. Cassandre’s work. When I was in school, Lou Danziger did the same for me. I did take time to look and it was one of those epiphanic moments in life. A.M.Cassandre worked in Paris from the early 1920s until his death in 1968. His work took elements of Cubism, Futurism, Art Deco, and Bauhaus Modernism and molded them into a unique form. The posters look effortless and fluid, but they are held together with rigor and structure. He had a remarkable sense of scale. The small flock of birds at the waterline on the Normandie poster creates a heroic scale. His Dole Pineapple posters are as sensual as a Georgia O’Keefe painting. It is his sense of shape that is genius. Liquid and solid, effortless and exact, the shapes create harmony and balance. So, if I suggest looking at Cassandre, the subtext is “Your shapes are awful.”

Images from the Louis Danziger Collection