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April 16, 1981 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1981-04-16

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ARTS
Thursday, April 16, 1981

The Michigan Daily

Page 5

I

K -'

..- ..

0--

and ink-makers), is thoroughly
prevalent in the finished product. The
compelling private vision found among
Motherwell's prints is not simply a
result of the firmness of his will. The
ultimate sense of the personal is
somehow tied up with the talents of the
printers, with their agility in tran-
slating the aims of the painter to the
graphic media. Each work is an utterly
finalized product; such understanding
between painter and printmaker is ex-
ceedingly rare.
The larger works are perhaps the
most impressive in this way.
"Automatism A," from the mid-
sixties, is a tanslation of a series of
painting experiments that Motherwell
was commencing at that time. He was
enthralled by the way waves crashed
against a breakwall by his oceanside
Provincetown home and sought to tran-
sfer something of the tide's rhythm and
force to the canvas. He attached a pain-
tbrush doused in pigment to an ap-
proximately five-foot pole, slapping it
against a canvas in several quick, iner- .
tia-driven strokes.
'this sounds like a process which
could only bear fruit through the act of
painting, but the transformation is
executed splendidly. "Automatism A"
is totally natural as a print, its lovely
Rives BFK paper drinking up the ink,
never diffusing the strokes and
weakening their vigor. There is a
satisfying physicality to the richly
composed bottom swath. One feels and
hears the smack of the middle stripe as
it splatters across the surface. Finally,
above this a twisted swipe of ink seeks
to lift up, striving to tear away. A
triology of quick and elemental
movements, Motherwell has somehow
orchestrated a joyous freeze-frame of
gravity's pull.
Another of the larger works, a piece
from his five-part "Dutch Linen Suite
IV," is almost as riveting. In its three
thick brush strokes race out horizon-
tally from the left side. The motion is
re quite brisk but bled of the visceral
n. quality of "Automatism A". The swipes
er do a shimmy-hop across a dry field,
ut wavering on a textured surface that
x- seems to hold them luxuriously.
s. "Red Open with White Line" is the
he odd-picture out of this show. It is a con-
m tinuation of various color field studies
er that Motherwell instigated in the sixties
involving a single area of color upon
in which open-sided rectangle or cube
th forms are sketched. The sparse,
n- blazing red flatness makes an intense
st contrast to the figure. Even here
y, Motherwell's personal, ineffable ap-
re proach to printmaking takes hold. It
an turns what might easily have been a

By DENNIS HARVEY
Gather round, all you comfily open-
minded viewers, and laugh at the fags!
La Cage Aux Folles II has arrived, and
once more it's time to get your yocks off
on those lovably unthreatening queens,
those melty-voiced freaks with their
smart little handbags drooping from
limp wrists, encased in post-Bob
Mackie glitter and breathlessly
stereotypical behavior.
Hey, we're all liberals here, right?
Sure, we can handle homosexuality on
the screen (if less so anywhere else)
when it's as harmlessly darlink as this.
For the benefit of the squeamish, let me
assure you that you need not fear any
gross display of physical affection bet-
ween two men. God forbid alienating'
the hetero audience!
PARISIAN transvestite-club owner
(Renato (Ugo Tognazzi) and his aging
drag-show star (Michael Serrault)
have supposedly been lovers for 20
years, but love in these two wide-screen
sitcoms is tastefully reduced to "affec-
tionate" bickering and a rare shared-
eye-twinkle. In the original film the
men's "touching" and "sensitive" bond
was politely confined to a fleeting hand
squeeze, and the sequel keeps its leads
at arms' length from each other,
dreading to ooh-gross-out the viewer
who thinks he's expanding his tasteful
tolerance by laughing "with" the
characters.
At the heart of the farce, both good
and bad, is ridicule; how come
everybody loves La Cage Aux Folles I
and II as a farce while thinking they
sympathize with gays? It's easy to go
soft over painted faces running with big
pathetic tears. All too easy - you'd
practically have to go back to the
cinematic Stone Age to find sentimen-
tality as reflexive, stupid and cheap as
it is here. It's conveniently undeman-
ding to like a cartoon, but is this really
any different from mammies and
Stepin Fetchit? Instead of Harlem on
the Prairie we have Fire Island on the
Riveria, and since sexism has not yet
become generally declasse the way
racism has over the years, you're free to
smirk. I prefer, in a way, the wide-eyed
homophobia of a movie like Cruising to

A Fag is a

Cigarette

this kind of hypocritical fawning over a
minority made acceptably cute - bet-
ter to withstand the honest hatred of
bigots than be reduced to bunnies and
kittens by some "well-meaning,"
economically shrewd "supporter."
The sequel is even worse on a
technical level than the original, which
probably won't make any difference to
its audience. The story is an em-
barrassingly lame contrivance about
microfilm, secret government agen-
cies, spies all too willing to shoot up the
whole damn town in pursuit of
whoever-a direly dramaticized excuse
for Albin to skitter around wide-eyes
and yelping, popping chocolates ner-,
vously in drag, fretting more seriously
over the advance of facial creases than
the bullets whizzing by.
Criticized by Renato, Albin emerges
from the bathroom with a single welling
tear trembling upon his lid, saying "I'm
not ridiculous. I can still attract desire.
You know, if I'm not attractive
anymore, I'll kill myself."-lawdy, the
one thing worse than this film's humor
is its pathos. This dazzingly narrow and
traditional view is of the homosexual as
a kind of ultimate cardbord female, a
pampered imbecile that outlives its
purpose when no longer pretty.
the ann arbor
film cooperative
TONIGHT TONIGHT
PRESENTS
BEST BOY
7:00& 10:20-AUD. A
NORTHERN
LIGHTS
8:45-AUD. A
$2 single feature 4
$3 double feature

ONCE IN A while the couple's black
"maid" walks in wearing another hot
pants/minishirt variation, outswishing
them all, to bulge his eyes out and let
out a slaphappy laugh at the pair's
latest wacky shenanigans. Poor guy, he
isn't given anything else to do at all. A
lot of people have told me they loved the
first film but for this character, which
made them uncomfortable-apparently
it's okay to have a laugh on these white-
bread fags, but putting a black in such a
role gets problematic. It isn't quite so
chic to laugh at that minority; vague
guilt is aroused.
Audiences conditioned to the current
polite level of toleration began to balk
- Hey, having a yock at these regular
homos is okay, but the black one, that's
in bad taste! Blacks must be treated
with (as the latest dutifully serious
problem-drama film is always said to
have dignity! This kind of hypocritical
thinking is just too maddening to dwell
on any further.
If you liked La Cage Aux Folles,
you'll probably, like La Cage Aux Folles
II just as well. That's an insult, folks.
U-M Dyptdof TheatrcDrama
directed by Radu Pcnciulescu
ap'

"

Pictured above is Robert Motherwell's 'Automatism A.' An exhibition of
Motherwell's prints is showing through April 25 at the Simsar Gallery on
Main Street.
Motherwell volleys
from th easy chair

By RJ SMITH
'Sometime after the blitzkrieg of the
Abstract Expressionist painters on the
American art scene in the forties, Ab-
stract Expressionism got rather neatly
cleaved. Action Painters to the left
please, and try not to drip on the carpet.
And you Color Fielders, please go mope
over there.
But Motherwell? He was ill-identified
by the characteristics of either ex-
treme. Early on he exhibited a superb
handling of large areas of color yet
chose to animate his canvases most of
all with titanic dramas of black and
'white. His work might have displayed
some of the energy of a Pollock or a De
Kooning from the start, but it also con-
veyed what Motherwell termed the
"poetry" of the School of Paris artists,
most of all ,Matisse, Picasso and Miro.
His was a frenzy projected from the
easy chair, ventilated and distilled
before it hit the canvas.
It is thirty:- one years after the
creation of Motherwell's first "Elegy to
the Spanish Republic," the series of
enormous, passionate paintings in-
spired by the Spanish Civil War for
which he is most famous. Today he is
Ab-Ex's most visible spokesperson. At
sixty-six he's also the youngest star of a
diminished bullpen, and the one who
yields the most satisfying work year
after year.
The robustness of his recent art is on
display at the Simsar Gallery until
'April 25: an exhibition of a dozen
graphic works on a variety of richly
textured papers culled from the sixties

and seventies. Most of the prints her
hum to us the moment we see ther
They don't spill their secrets only afte
long interrogatioi- they hold them of
from the start, offering a wealth of e
pression in the simplest of gesture
Scale is deceiving; the smallest of th
works, the calligraphic studies, see
the most monumental, while large
ones stress motion rather than mass.
But though there is much feelingi
these prints it seems encrusted wi
vagueness, lending itself only u
willingly to quick interpretation. Mo
of the works do not trumpet in the wa
say, the Spanish Elegies do, and the
is even a more obscure poetry here tha
is found in a good many of Motherwel
collages. There is somethi
paradoxical in this.
"I have always regarded (my print
as the most private -,Not only becau
prints are generally intimate in sca
and technique, but also making the
tended to be more sportif than ^
work in collage and painting," Mothe
well wrote in a recent catalogue of 1
graphic works. What is unusual is t
the intimacy of the prints, seemingly;
counterbalanced by the "oollecti
nature of the printmaking process(
which Motherwell also included pape
See MOTHERWELL, Page 10
a:* I
INDIVIDUAL THEATRES
StA Ave atLiberty 761-700
THE RELATIONSHIP
CONTINUES. .
"LA CAGE
AUX
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7:30, 9:30 LA CAGE
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11:30 $2.00 Tickets on
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April 15-19
POWER CENTER
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ANN ARBOR THEATER CHEAP FLICKS
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STEVE MARTIN the relationship
continues...
"LA
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(R)
Raisto (SUBTITLED)
to Rags

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his
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--I

s^N G

AT THE MICHIGAN THEATRE

14

SHAMPOO
With WARREN BEATTY, JULIE CHRISTIE, CARRIE FISHER, LEE GRANT. A Beverly
Hills hairdresser just can't say no to any woman and ends up trying to please
them all. He loses the one woman he really loves to an aging, married
businessman who tries Beatty's pace but ends up staying at his own.
"More than just a haircut." 7:00 and 10:20 only:

CACTUS FLOWER
The Broadway hit about a playboy dentist, his kookie mistress and wall
* flower office nurse. HAWN, MATTHAU, BERGMAN. 8:45 only.
CINEMA GUILD

WITH THIS ENTIRE AD-
one admission $2.00 any film
Good Mon. thru Thurs. Eves.
valid thru 4/16/81 "M"

ENDS TONIGHTI
"ORDINARY PEOPLE" (R)
AT 7:00, 9:15
STARTS TOMORROW!

Back when you
had to beat it
before you
could eat it...

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