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Craft


yvonne johnson
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Lardons, fryers, and layers, oh my.  :wow:

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Invoking the Intentionist Fallacy as to dining or cooking is best left to people with pretensions. Chefs are quasi-tradesmen and quasi-businessmen. Their intentions, including the opaque one of modeling one kind of restaurant after another kind of restaurant, is irrelevant to the basic experience. Of course it is not without interest to learn such facts, but as a practical matter, it hardly matters: The proof of the pudding is in the eating. With great artists, however, it is a different story: Such people have the entire spiritual world at their fingertips to grasp, retain, make statements about, and transform it  Hack artists may need to revert to intentionist utterances to bolster the reception of their work by mollifying or putting at ease his or her audience. Great artists, on the other hand, hardly want to demystify their creativity by explaining it. In fact, certain artists (Andy Warhol, for one) have been known to deliberately mislead in this respect, so miffed are they at having to explain the “meaning” of their art. Great art speaks for itself and is best left open to an intention or interpretation that can be controversial, thought-provoking, personal to the individual who confronts it, and subject to reinterpretation over time.

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With great artists, however, it is a different story: Such people have the entire spiritual world at their fingertips to grasp, retain, make statements about, and transform it  Hack artists may need to revert to intentionist utterances to bolster the reception of their work by mollifying or putting at ease his or her audience. Great artists, on the other hand, hardly want to demystify their creativity by explaining it. In fact, certain artists (Andy Warhol, for one) have been known to deliberately mislead in this respect, so miffed are they at having to explain the “meaning” of their art.

Sorry, I can't resist the impulse to respond to this:

I hope you're not citing Warhol's deliberate misleading as evidence that he was a "great artist." A bunch of Campbell's soup cans? What "genius"! NOT!

(Remember, folks, I don't speak out of ignorance: I'm a musician, and my father and aunt are painters.)

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I hope you're not citing Warhol's deliberate misleading as evidence that he was a "great artist." A bunch of Campbell's soup cans? What "genius"! NOT!

And rock and roll is a bunch of meaningless noise, barbecue boring meat hunks on a grill, and....

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

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Invoking the Intentionist Fallacy as to dining or cooking is best left to people with pretensions. Chefs are quasi-tradesmen and quasi-businessmen. Their intentions, including the opaque one of modeling one kind of restaurant after another kind of restaurant, is irrelevant to the basic experience. Of course it is not without interest to learn such facts, but as a practical matter, it hardly matters: The proof of the pudding is in the eating. With great artists, however, it is a different story: Such people have the entire spiritual world at their fingertips to grasp, retain, make statements about, and transform it  Hack artists may need to revert to intentionist utterances to bolster the reception of their work by mollifying or putting at ease his or her audience. Great artists, on the other hand, hardly want to demystify their creativity by explaining it. In fact, certain artists (Andy Warhol, for one) have been known to deliberately mislead in this respect, so miffed are they at having to explain the “meaning” of their art. Great art speaks for itself and is best left open to an intention or interpretation that can be controversial, thought-provoking, personal to the individual who confronts it, and subject to reinterpretation over time.

In a word, yes.  You've said it better than I could.  Thanks Robert.

Pan:  Warhol, great artist, absolutely, IMHO.

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"Chefs are quasi-tradesmen and quasi-businessmen. Their intentions, including the opaque one of modeling one kind of restaurant after another kind of restaurant, is irrelevant to the basic experience. Of course it is not without interest to learn such facts, but as a practical matter, it hardly matters:

Robert B. - Two things about this. First, you have removed it even further from the context I originally used it in. The issue is whether a critic in a restaurant should be anonymous or not and I used the example of my being "recognized" to show the obvious benefits that occur when that happens. That the benefit is getting the artists perspective on their own work is something you can take or leave. But I haven't heard the argument about how it possibly can take away from the experience. It either has no value, or some value. It can't lessen.

Second, restaurants like Craft aren't art, they are life. Yes you can go to El Bulli and have a totally cerebral experience, but that isn't what Craft is about. It is utilitarian to the extent that one can have luxury and utility combined. I don't see how any input from its creator describing how to utilize it could possibly fall under the Intentionist Fallacy.

If I was a smart person I would be able to write a thesis on why the artist's perspective has been excluded by people who either appreciate art or do commerce in it. Not knowing much about art, but knowing lots about human nature, it isn't difficult to conclude that if the artists perspective became relevent, lots of people would lose their jobs. And it seems so obvious. Like who wouldn't want to know if the Mona Lisa is actually smiling at everyone or did it just happen to come out that way? And if it was on purpose, why? But if we knew the answers to those questions, probably a few thousand art historians would be out of work. And we wouldn't want that happening would we?

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Good point on which you end your post, Steve. I just wonder, though, who would be left to run museums; build and manage public collections; curate exhibitions; write the books and catalogues; determine the authorship and authenticity of works of art and how they were created; decipher iconography;study the history of mankind, civilizations and nations through architecture and the making and collecting of art and artifacts; learn how to go about restoring paintings, sculpture, works on paper, historic monuments and various kinds of artifacts in the fittest manner; conduct archaelogical excavations; and, perhaps most important, teach people something about connoisseurship?

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I hope you're not citing Warhol's deliberate misleading as evidence that he was a "great artist." A bunch of Campbell's soup cans? What "genius"! NOT!

And rock and roll is a bunch of meaningless noise, barbecue boring meat hunks on a grill, and....

That's not the point, Mamster.

Making advertizements and pretending that they're fine art in order to make lots of money....Well, we needn't continue this, but I resent it when someone as contentless as Warhol is cited as an "unquestionable" great artist. We should no more accept the marketing of Warhol than the marketing of Cambell's Soup. That's the analogy I hope some of you fellow connoiseurs of good food would think about. And, furthermore, you seem to be reacting as if my ridiculing of Warhol is elitist, but it's the elite establishment that promoted and promotes so much garbage today. Who do you think can afford to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars and more for artworks? The same people who fill Madison Square Garden for a rock concert, let alone spend a few dollars for a CD (or burn it off the Net)? No, Sir! Rock is music that ordinary people can patronize, and barbecue is more analogous to folk music (except when in Blue Smoke) than to high-priced advertizements masquerading as "high art."

OK, end of rant.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Their intentions, including the opaque one of modeling one kind of restaurant after another kind of restaurant, is irrelevant to the basic experience.

Robert, I'm curious to know whether this is also true of the experience of viewing a work of art? Is it useful to know something about the environmental factors - social, political, economic, among others - out of which a work of art arises, or is it sufficient for the totality of the experience to be in the viewing? Could it be that some people get enough for themselves from the "basic experience", and that others benefit more from a wider and deeper knowledge? Could this also be true for eating in a restaurant? I'm not suggesting that knowledge of the intentions of the chef or the restaurant would affect the quality of one's experience, but rather asking whether another set of intellectual and/or contextual tools might be useful to some diners, as they are perhaps to some viewers of works of art.

Btw, none of the foregoing should be taken as an implication that I believe that chefs are artists. I gather that can of worms has been tipped over already.

Who said "There are no three star restaurants, only three star meals"?

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Robert B. - Why is any of what you listed important? Is it not just made up by people who want to perpetuate their being necessary to the equation? If there were no "customers" for their services, would they continue to exist?

Obviously I am exaggerating but I just find some inconsistancy in logic that says that the explanations of the artist are irrelevent but we can't live without the words of experts who interpert what artists really mean. There are two truths to every work of art. What it is supposed to mean and what it means to the person trying to appreciate the art. But just because people who view art make up an alternative reality, doesn't mean that every aspect of art is subjective. Can we imagine that Picasso painted a certain section of Guernica to be symbolic of a particular act of the battle and it was misinterpeted by critics, and that his explanation wouldn't be relevent? I can't. Sometimes reality just doesn't need to be reinvented.

"Is it useful to know something about the environmental factors - social, political, economic, among others - out of which a work of art arises, or is it sufficient for the totality of the experience to be in the viewing?"

Robert S. - Thanks for pointing out that it is really a practical issue.  Like any other free speech concept, if the artist perspective wasn't relevent it would be rejected by those who hear it. But to have built a culture that limits that aspect of expression seems comes off as, and probably is to some extent, self serving.

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I resent it when someone as contentless as Warhol is cited as an "unquestionable" great artist.

I don't think anything is unquestionable.  A lot of people enjoy Andy Warhol's work even though they can't afford to buy it.  I won't deny that there is often an elitist aspect to what ends up considered "great" art, but a lot of people simply think that Andy Warhol's work (including but not limited to the soup cans) is totally cool.

Here's what needled me about your post: You set out your credentials as an art expert in order to say that a particular artist is no good.  I reject this vehemently.

To try and bring this back around, I agree with Steve P that this doesn't have much to do with dinner 99% of the time.  The idea of cooking as high art has been largely injurious to the pursuit of good eating, just as the idea of architecture as high art has helped to produce plenty of expensive, bad architecture.

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

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I feel the same way about conceptual food and conceptual art;good that it exists,but most of it will be forgotten in the long run.There have been a few brilliant ideas,and loads of self indulgent poop...and I've fallen for some of the poop myself,and felt foolish a few years later.

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The idea of cooking as high art has been largely injurious to the pursuit of good eating, just as the idea of architecture as high art has helped to produce plenty of expensive, bad architecture.

Cooking as high art has never hurt my pursuit of good eating. There's plenty of bad architecture, but I've never seen bad architecture more easily accepted as fine art than good architecture. There's something that strikes me as not only anti-elitist in this line of thinking, but anti-intellectual, as if thinking too much about any pursuit will invariably ruin it.

It strikes me that "good" and "bad" are often very subjective anyway and any discussion that starts by separating art or food into good and bad is never going to rise above being about taste.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I feel the same way about conceptual food and conceptual art;good that it exists,but most of it will be forgotten in the long run.There have been a few brilliant ideas,and loads of self indulgent poop...and I've fallen for some of the poop myself,and felt foolish a few years later.

I don't care to either support or argue with your predictions about the long run, but I wholeheartedly agree that the existence of ideas for their own sake is healthy even if only a few turn out to be seen as brilliant in the long run. At least I agree, if you're saying what I'm saying.

:biggrin:

One difference might be that I wouln't feel so foolish for embracing an idea I think is poop a few years later. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. There's value in taking risks.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Steve, I am having a hard time following and answering your post when in mid-sentence you switch over to a different concern of the debate. Nonetheless, I thought it useful to describe what comprises the depth and the significance of the discipline of art history since you stated that if somehow scholars no longer needed to interpret works of art, the ranks, tasks, and the crucial nature of this discipline would be decimated. I think most people know that organizations that employ art historians are not “customer-driven”; that instead they are largely dependent on governmental and philanthropic largess, the latter of which is provided by businesses and individuals who realize that the quality of life and the glory of Western civilization would be much poorer without these organizations and the researchers and craftsmen they employ. The study of the miracle of civilization on earth comprises the art historians’ “customers”.

Great art has many more than two truths. What it means to an individual or to a culture is never fixed, predetermined, or quantifiable. “Guernica” will never stop being in an intellectual dormant state. It will always continue to engage and provoke sensitive and intelligent people and change its “meaning” with the passage of time and the values and sensitivities of future generations. What will always remain is its overwhelming power to shock the viewer with its instantaneous evocation of the horror of war, thereby casting its greatness both immediately and indefinitely. Picasso would want it no other way. A true artist wants the work of art to resonate with meaning and to do the work of communicating. That he or she would be obliged to provide “his interpretation” is often an anathema, demeaning his or her audience, short-circuiting debate or serious discussion, and precluding any future re-interpretation or new insight.

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Yes,of course all the pusuit of ideas has to exist,but remember I come from the blunt and curmudgeon-like school of expression.Whether it was the endless art world arguments about Jeff Koons [for example],or going on endlessly about foamy foods...well,what IS it exactly that everyone is getting all excited about?I've worked as a professional cook and as a professional designer,and in both cases my main goal was to give people pleasure-plain and simple,that's where I come from.

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Get to throw some gas on the fire here!   :wow:

During his radio interview in Vancouver today, when asked if there was a single "must try" restaurant in NYC, Fat Guy recommended Craft...

PS - Went to a Warhol exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art several years ago with no particular opinion as to his merits as an artist, and came away with the definite opinion that he was a cynical hack who would churn out a pile of prints whenever he needed to foot the bill for his lifestyle.

=Mark

Give a man a fish, he eats for a Day.

Teach a man to fish, he eats for Life.

Teach a man to sell fish, he eats Steak

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Here's what needled me about your post: You set out your credentials as an art expert in order to say that a particular artist is no good.  I reject this vehemently.

I respect your point, but the fact that I am a musician and, more importantly, that my father is an artist who taught me how to read space in paintings - something that most non-artists (and, sadly, many art students) are never taught nowadays - does establish that I've had at least an informal training in art and know something about it. It does not establish that I'm an expert, but I have two further comments about this:

(1) I do not accept that the reactions of trained and untrained eyes and ears have exactly the same merit. Just as all of us would probably agree that palates must receive some kind of training (often informal but formal in some cases) in order to make a person's opinion about a restaurant worth paying any attention to, the same is true of art - and probably a bit more, in certain respects.

One interesting tangent we could pursue is the difference in the Hungarian language between "tetsik" and "izlik." I don't speak much Hungarian, but from what I understand, "Hogy tetsik" and "Hogy izlik" both mean "how do you like [something]" but "tetsik" refers to strictly aesthetic appreciation (music, art, etc.), while "izlik" (with an accent on the first "i") refers to delectation (food, wine, and the like). While most everyone can relate to food and sex on a delectation level (even if many have unsophisticated or untrained palates - no comment for the second term there), aesthetics involve another level beyond mere physical delectation, and profit from both training and skepticism of received wisdom, in my view.

(2) The reason that I reminded people I am a musician and mentioned that I have close relatives who are painters was not to establish myself as an expert whose opinions are ipso facto more valid that others', but because I've previously found that many people, when confronted with opinions contrary to received "wisdom," tend to ridicule the source of those opinions as a fool, buffoon, and ignoramus who is spouting off idiotic nonsense. I have recently had such an experience in discussing reading space in paintings in a tangent on the rec.music.classical newsgroup. ("What's that?" asked one, and others claimed that the whole concept was nonexistent or merely some obsolete and obscure creation of a previous generation of critics; when I said I'd provide a reference, they didn't want to read it.) So I wanted to cut this off at the pass by mentioning things about myself that would indicate that, whatever else I am, I am no ignoramus or fool in regard to art. In that sense, I may have behaved unfairly because such a move was based on the seemingly unwarranted thought that fellow eGulleteers might make retorts of the type I mentioned, and no one has done so. So perhaps I owe you an apology.

Best,

Michael

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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The benefit is getting the artists perspective on their own work is something you can take or leave. But I haven't heard the argument about how it possibly can take away from the experience. It either has no value, or some value. It can't lessen.

Steve:  Its not a question of adding or subtracting value as much as its the narrowing or widening of the narrative.  All work has a narrative or I should  say narratives.  These change over time, change with each audience and change by what is written or said about the work.  What an artist says can unduly narrow or limit the narrative and if part of what one is after is an open narrative then one probably would want to refrain from joining the conversation.  I could take this line of discussion on to the concept of time in art (because that is what is inherent in any discussion of change) and have it bring us to a discussion of Cubism, but I'll control myself.

Speaking on a personal level, I can imagine that it is possible that Da Vinci had no clear cut intention regarding Mona Lisa's smile.  Work often takes on a life of its own and even the artist may have to wait and see how something turns out.

Everybody:  IMHO Art is an elitist activity.  Like Pan said, a cultured "palate" is necessary for a profound understanding of certain areas of our culture.  Now for the BIG QUESTION.  Is Egullet an elitist activity???????????

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I do not accept that the reactions of trained and untrained eyes and ears have exactly the same merit.

This reminds me of The Emperor's New Clothes a childhood story with which western society attempts to pass on some of its collective wisdom to the next generation. Our society, although generally hypocritical, is keen on believing innocence is a true judge.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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"I think most people know that organizations that employ art historians are not “customer-driven”; that instead they are largely dependent on governmental and philanthropic largess, the latter of which is provided by businesses and individuals who realize that the quality of life and the glory of Western civilization would be much poorer without these organizations and the researchers and craftsmen they employ. The study of the miracle of civilization on earth comprises the art historians’ “customers”."

Robert B. - You see I disagree with this. Five Million people a year visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art. That's a hell of a lot of customers. The issue for them isn't how many customers, the issue is how much those customers are willing to pay to visit "the history of civilization." If the Met wanted to prorate their cost of operation per customer per visit, the cost of admission would be so high their attendence would plummet. So the cost is subsidized by grants and donors. And the fact is, if the Met's attendence plummeted the subsudies would go down. So it is indeed extremely customer driven.

"Great art has many more than two truths. What it means to an individual or to a culture is never fixed, predetermined, or quantifiable. "

You keep talking about great art and I keep talking about food. The only analogy I made is that sometimes it's good to hear it in the artists own words. From what I can tell, you seem to be saying that is never the case. But you have yet to offer any evidence as to why that is other than theories that are applied to high art. You yourself called chefs quasi-tradesmen and not artists. Why are you then applying theories of high art in this instance?

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Every person who is knowledgeable about art in its universal manifestations, which, by the way, extend far beyond New York City’s largest art institution, knows that museum admissions are a drop in the bucket and never are considered more than a  subsidy from the art-loving resident or visitor. It is strictly a waste of time to try to figure out how much a museum would have to charge to meet its expenses with admissions revenue only. It is a calculation that people have fancifully done for decades. Scholarly researchers, organizers and curators of exhibitions, archeologists working on the site of the remains of ancient civilizations, and those earning their livelihoods in undertakings I have already mentioned, cannot charge admission.

There have been other people with opinions on this thread, one of whom is Stefany who raised the concept Thursday night on Page One of the Intentionist Fallacy, even though she did not use that precise term. She, in turn, brought up Robert Schonfeld’s remarks that a chef like Collechio may be retiscent, as may be an artist, to talk about his work. In this regard, there is some applicable relevance to chefs of the concerns of the Intentionist Fallacy. It is primarily the remarks of these two that motivated my initial point of departure on this thread. Beyond this, I am unable to address your entreaties in the terms of rigorous debate because, first, you indeed have talked a lot about art; second, you invoke some kind of analogy where an analogy doesn’t appear to exist. As for what further I can address: sure the Thomas Kinkaid-types of the world would be happy to go on late night television and explain  why they paint cottages in bucolic settings. But how many books are in existence with titles such as “The Meaning of ‘Guernica’ in Pablo Picasso’s Own Words”. I am not saying that great living artists, especially in this day and age, do not or should not discuss their work and that providing guideposts, a sketchy outline or autobiographical remarks are not useful points of departure. But no truly great artist is going to take someone by the hand and then shove a comprehensive, dogmatic interpretation of his or her work down someone’s throat. Otherwise that person would not be a great artist.

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Now for the BIG QUESTION.  Is Egullet an elitist activity???????????

I'll bite:

Yes. As long as eGullet continues to attract a select group of people, most of whom are more knowledgeable than the average diner (and some people here are _VERY_ knowledgeable about all sorts of things) or/and have more discriminating taste than the average diner, eGullet will remain an elitist activity - or at least an elite activity. Right now, eGullet could benefit from more posters. But think about Chowhound. There are so many posters there now - and many who I believe, frankly, don't know much and have no institutional memory of previous discussions - that many threads eventually reached a low level there (though a number of the old regulars are still there). And when Chowhound ceased to be an elite activity (except inasmuch as - well, let me not discuss the management's policy), it soon ceased to be fun for me.

I like to read things here, even if they're often about restaurants I'll probably never go to because of expense, and I like to share information here because I believe that some eGulleteers will appreciate it. Now, if I were posting on a board where people thought Ollie's was as good as Grand Sichuan and McDonalds was as good as Teresa's, wouldn't that be a bit like casting pearls - even if fresh-water pearls - before swine? And if I had no idea whether any of the posts I was reading were the least bit accurate or trustworthy, would it be worth my while to read them? So yes, a resounding yes to your question.

None of which means I lack egalitarian impulses, politically, but let's not go there...  :biggrin:

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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