Mike Glier

  • WORKING WATTEAU

    AT THE LOUVRE, STANDING in front of one of Watteau’s working drawings, Deux études de corps nus (Two studies of nude bodies, ca. 1715–16), I notice that over a reclining male nude the artist has lightly sketched, sideways on the page, a standing female nude. I’m looking at a picture of opposite sexes joined at the crotch, their flesh responding to gravity from different directions, and I think, This seems modern.

    I’ve never cared for Watteau’s paintings; they share a place in my heart with wedding cake. In his drawings, however, cloying 18th-century mannerisms are secondary to knowledge of anatomy,

  • PATIENCE, OBSERVATION, AND INVESTIGATION: LEARNING FROM AUDUBON

    THE REPUBLICATION OF John James Audubon’s masterpiece, The Birds of America, makes clear the essential goodness of both the man and his art. I had always assumed that I would like Audubon’s work. Well, now that I’ve really looked, I love the work. It is the magnitude of the effort that strikes me first. The sum of Audubon’s original investigation into the ornithology of North America is awesome: a folio of 435 hand-colored etchings, accompanied by a separate five volume set, The Ornithological Biography, giving detailed observations of each species. What also moves me is his uniquely American

  • The 1979 Dime Store Figurine

    SIGNS AND GARLANDS FESTOON THE aisles. Fluorescent signs and flashing lights compete for attention. Disco music animates the search, reach, and purchase. Endless counters and shelves shape human movement into a contracted grid. Welcome to Woolworth’s.

    Gazing over this testament to industrial abundance, I spy the object of my fancy, that low-brow form of object fetishism, familiar to every Midwestern mother’s son, the dime store figurine. Initially, my fascination was purely sentimental. Then I began to think of the vast numbers of these things decorating countless homes. As an artist whose