Guide to Art, Remedios Varo et al., Painting vs. Sculpture Including Spiders, An Overton Window

Welcome to this week’s “zine.”

by Mark M

As you can plainly see above, my artistic abilities peaked at about age 11, if not sooner.

This is an illustration of what may happen if you start heartily laughing with the unswallowed liquid of the beverage you are drinking still in your mouth.


I did this art-guide chapbook below in 2001. The scans leave a lot to be desired, but hopefully you get the general idea, nonetheless. As it was, it was a tedious job making the scans, and then pasting them into the webform one by one.

The Andres Serrano image near the end is Piss Christ.


Remedios Varo was a surrealist in my view as comparably imaginative as Dali — in her own way, of course.

She said about this painting, “The Flautist,” that the sound of the flute is moving the stones.

For me, this brings to mind this Seth/Jane Roberts passage:

“Now thoughts in general possess an electromagnetic reality, but whether you know it or not, they also have an inner sound value.

“You know the importance of exterior sound. It is used as a method of communication, but it is also a by-product of many other events, and it affects the physical atmosphere. Now the same is true about what I will call inner sound, the sound of your thoughts within your own head.


“The same kind of sound built the Pyramids, and it was not sound that you would hear with your physical ears. Such inner sound forms your bone and flesh….”

—Seth/Jane Roberts, The Nature of Personal Reality, Session 623, October 25, 1972

Concerning “The Revelation of the Clockmaker,” she wrote about it that the “painting is about time” where the clockmaker “represents our ordinary time, but through the window comes a ‘revelation’ and all of a sudden the clockmaker comprehends a whole lot of things. I have tried to make him look both astonished and enlightened…. [the] timepieces all show the same time, but contain a figure from very distinct epochs…”

Seth/Jane Roberts had a lot to say about time. Here is a tiny example:

“You must simply and practically try to divest yourself of all ideas of time as you know it, for this discussion. Basically, what you call time does not exist. I am trying to tell you what does exist instead.”

—Seth/Jane Roberts, The Early Sessions, Vol. 9, Session 429, August 14, 1968

He spoke of what he called “the spacious present”:

“The spacious present is an excellent term. In actuality there is only a spacious present, so spacious that it cannot be explored all at once in your terms, hence your arbitrary division of it into larger rooms of past, present and future.”

—Seth/Jane Roberts, The Early Sessions, Vol. 1, Session 41, April 6, 1964

Other work:

I muchly like the work of at least some of the other surrealist women also back in that age and day:

Dorothea Tanning, who was married to Max Ernst.

Meret Oppenheim.

Kay Sage.

Leonora Carrington.

I have a two-volume set of all of Dali’s paintings that I got a number of years ago. Since it has mostly just sat on my shelf all that time, along with other art books, not real long ago, I decided to look at several of the paintings depicted per day until I had seen them all.

At times, I felt I was being subtly mentally manipulated by his work, a somewhat unwelcome feeling.

One thing that was interesting was his portraits of people who I assume commissioned him to render a portrait. (I only looked at the pictures, read very little of the text. I’ve since been doing the same for my other, neglected art books.)

Fergus Hall is a fave of mine. He designed a Tarot Card deck used in Live and Let Die and three of his works were used as King Crimson cover art here and here (one appeared on the back cover).

I also admire the work of:

Jim Nutt and Karl Wirsum.

John Wilde.

Fernando Botero.

The Regionalist Triumvirate: Wood (though American Gothic is pretty tiresome by now), Benton, Curry.

Modern Art

The July 4, 2022 issue of New Yorker reviews Hugh Eakin’s new book, Picasso’s War: How Modern Art Came to America which describes how making a market for modern artists such as Picasso and Matisse in the U.S. took decades—and many mediators.

These mediators were needed because the initial reaction to modern art wasn’t so different from how the Nazis regarded it: degenerate. (Stalin hated it too.)

From the article:

“The general American public, in the period when modern art emerged, around the time of the First World War, had no interest in it. Wealthy Americans, the sort of people who could afford to buy art for their homes, had no taste for it. Even the art establishment was hostile. In 1913, a Matisse show at the Art Institute of Chicago instigated a near-riot. Copies of three Matisse paintings were burned and there was a mock trial, in which Matisse was convicted of, among other things, artistic murder. The demonstrators were art students.”

John Quinn was one of the mediators. And though, unlike the Nazis, he loved modern art and avidly collected it, like the Nazis he was virulently anti-Semitic.

From the article:

‘In 1919, for instance, when Quinn was trying to get Eliot’s poems published in the United States, he grew frustrated with the publishers Albert Boni and Horace Liveright, who were Jewish. “It is a dirty piece of Jew impertinence,” he complained in a letter to Eliot, “calculated impertinence at that, for that is the way that type of Jew thinks he can impress his personality. . . . Feeling as I do about this matter, of course I have the keenest possible feelings regarding Jew pogroms in Poland. . . . It also occurs to me that I might be willing to even agree to make a modest contribution and take a modest part in a pogrom here. There might be a couple of additional pogroms in the outlying districts, one in the Bronx and one in Brooklyn.”’

And that’s rather ironic in light of what he said here:

‘…the Times called the Armory Show “part of the general movement, discernible all over the world, to disrupt and degrade, if not to destroy, not only art, but literature and society, too”—Quinn worked the press, giving interviews to New York papers in which he labelled unsigned attacks like that one “Ku Klux criticism.”’

He died in 1924. The article points out:

“From the point of view of the American art world, the incredible collection he amassed, containing works by, among others, Brâncuși, Braque, Duchamp, Gris, Matisse, Picasso, Rousseau, Seurat, van Gogh, and Villon, was close to worthless when he died. No American dealer could sell it, and no American museum wanted to hang it.”

Strong Opinions and Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali had strong, mostly negative opinions on his artist contemporaries which I didn’t agree with, but which I, nonetheless, thought were quite funny.

The foremost one that comes to mind was regarding sculptor Henry Moore. Dali referred to him as “the village idiot.”

In his Diary of a Genius (1964), he wrote of Mondrian, July 29, 1952:

“less than a fart

more than a flea of


In that book, on a 20-point scale, he rated Mondrian on:

Technique: 0

Inspiration: 0

Color: 0

Subject: 0

Genius: 0

Composition: 1

Originality: 1/2

Mystery: 0

Authenticity: 3.5

Pollock: “He is not so bad as Turner. Because he is even more of a zero.”

Turner: “The worst painter in the world, from every point of view, without foggy hesitation or possible doubts, is named Turner.”

Strong in the positive direction was his love of Vermeer. Concerning those ratings for Mondrian, he, in contrast, rated Vermeer at 20 for all the qualities, though giving him a 19 on originality. He gives comparable high marks to Leonardo, Raphael, and Velasquez but not Bouguereau to whom he gives near-Mondrian-level low marks.

He generally gave himself ratings 17-19, though a 12 on technique and a 10 on color.

He loved the “rounded” architecture of Antoni Gaudí.

He observes: “If you are mediocre, even if you make a great effort to paint very very badly, people will still see you are mediocre.”

Regarding politics, Wikipedia tells us:

As a youth, Dalí identified as communist, anti-monarchist and anti-clerical and in 1924 he was briefly imprisoned by the Primo de Rivera dictatorship as a person “intensely liable to cause public disorder.” When Dalí officially joined the Surrealist group in 1929 his political activism initially intensified. In 1931, he became involved in the Workers’ and Peasants’ Front, delivering lectures at meetings and contributing to their party journal. However, as political divisions within the Surrealist group grew, Dalí soon developed a more apolitical stance, refusing to publicly denounce fascism. In 1934, André Breton accused him of being sympathetic to Hitler and Dalí narrowly avoided being expelled from the group.* In 1935 Dalí wrote a letter to Breton suggesting that non-white races should be enslaved.

After the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, Dalí avoided taking a public stand for or against the Republic. However, immediately after Franco’s victory in 1939, Dalí praised Catholicism and the Falange and was expelled from the Surrealist group. After Dalí’s return to his native Catalonia in 1948, he publicly supported Franco’s regime and announced his return to the Catholic faith. Dalí was granted an audience with Pope Pius XII in 1949 and with Pope John XXIII in 1959. He had official meetings with General Franco in June 1956, October 1968, and May 1974. In 1968, Dalí stated that on Franco’s death there should be no return to democracy and Spain should become an absolute monarchy. In September 1975, Dalí publicly supported Franco’s decision to execute three alleged Basque terrorists and repeated his support for an absolute monarchy, adding: “Personally, I’m against freedom; I’m for the Holy Inquisition.” In the following days, he fled to New York after his home in Port Lligat was stoned and he had received numerous death threats. When King Juan Carlos visited the ailing Dalí in August 1981, Dalí told him: “I have always been an anarchist and a monarchist.”

*In his Diary of a Genius, he writes, May 1, 1952, “In the end they were convinced of my innocence, but all the same I had to sign a document in which, among other things, I declared myself to be no enemy of the proletariat. I signed this without any qualms, as I never had any particular feelings either ‘for’ or ‘against’ the proletariat.”

“Esoterically” speaking:

 “Art often appears timeless to the ego because it often merges within it a greater number of moment points than the ego can ordinarily perceive.”

Seth/Jane Roberts, The Early Sessions, Vol. 4, Session 151, May 3, 1965

“Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo notoriously disliked each other — most acidly when Michelangelo aggressively dismissed Leonardo’s arguments that painting was superior to Michelangelo’s beloved sculpture.”

–Martin Kemp in his Foreword to Noah Charney’s The Devil in the Gallery: How Scandal, Shock, and Rivalry Shaped the Art World, 2021

“In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, artists and intellectuals liked to debate the relative merits of painting versus sculpture versus poetry…. Back in the day, this was a hot topic of conversation, referred to as the ut pictura poesis debate, drawing from a line by the Latin author Horace, which translates roughly as “as in painting, so in poetry.” p.114

The author points out this painting (Velazquez, 1650) and bust (Bernini, 1650) of Pope Innocent X.

(Ironically, the book informs us that Leonardo “rarely completed anything — he was known to have lingered over paintings. Mona Lisa, for instance, was touched up so often and so slowly that it was never actually given to its patron. There are around fifteen extant Leonardo paintings, ten of which might be described as ‘finished.'”

(So we actually have more paintings from Michelangelo than Leonardo, given, for instance, the Sistine Chapel alone.

(The author points out that competition among artists for commissions back then was quite fierce.)

Jane Roberts’ Seth (who on the painting vs. sculpture issue sided with Leonardo):

“Music, or rather a musical composition also achieves this state. Sculpture does not, for reasons that I will go into at a later time. The camouflage here however in the matter of a statue is too much like a prison. I am going to suggest a break. You may fly in as many pieces as you like at once.”

—Seth/Jane Roberts, The Early Sessions, Vol. 1, Session 19, January 27, 1964

“I would like to repeat again the fact that in many instances, and with exceptions, ideas not fully constructed on your plane not only have great force but are also freer from the effects of physical laws. The idea has at its command then greater and varied methods of expression, and from it varieties of construction can be attempted. I have mentioned the advantages of a painting over a piece of sculpture, and an idea not fully captured will find further expression.”

—Seth/Jane Roberts, The Early Sessions, Vol. 1, Session 40, April 1, 1964


“Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, for example, would have gone out of their minds, acting as it seems people sometimes believe that an artist should act. Their stories have been greatly romanticized to fit the picture, if you will forgive the pun.

“For all of Michelangelo’s ranting, he found great zest in the political tumult of his time, in which he was of course quite intimately involved. He played church and state against each other, made an ass of the Pope whenever he could, and was deeply involved in the social, political, and religious fervor of those days.

“That applies even more of course to Da Vinci, who was a social dilettante besides, but a man of incredible vision—a psychic if you prefer, who invented in his mind gadgets that would not physically come into your world for centuries.”

—Seth/Jane Roberts, The Personal Sessions, Vol. 5, Deleted Session, November 12, 1979

“Van Gogh, for your information, was obsessed personally with ideas of self-mutilation, and underwent great inner torture. He chose those feelings however so that he could view the world and reality in a certain light. That light enabled him to do what he wanted to but could not fake: paint the world through that particular unique vision….

“Van Gogh was true to his vision, which means he was true to the self he created for himself in that time, and so must you be. But you must also have faith in what you have done…”

—Seth/Jane Roberts, The Personal Sessions, Vol. 2, Deleted Session, December 4, 1972

Van Gogh’s art seems to be a prime example of being ahead of its time, him apparently selling only one piece in his lifetime whereas now his paintings fetch millions of dollars at auction.

“You may have heard people say of an idea: ‘Its time has not yet come.’ This simply means that there is not enough energy connected with the idea to propel it outward into the world of physical experience as an objective mass-experienced event.”

–Seth/Jane Roberts, The “Unknown” Reality, Vol. 2, Session 710

This 1887 portrait by Vincent van Gogh, long thought to be a self-portrait, was reassessed in 2011 to be one of his brother, Theo van Gogh.

“Jane wonders how much wasted energy went into Picasso’s antics—that should have gone into his work. Van Gogh and Cézanne were afraid of their energy, and with all they did could have done far more. Picasso’s free flow of energy in all areas freed energy for his work, and did not detract from it. He kept his channels to energy open, therefore the energy flowed through his work freely, and in a short period of time he could produce a painting that might take years for another as gifted to produce, who husbanded his talent as a miser.”

—Seth/Jane Roberts, The Personal Sessions, Vol. 3, Deleted Session, December 17, 1973

[Though Picasso had problems with women in that he could become an outsized problem for them. Nasty! –Mark]

“Picasso, for example, had a supreme confidence in his ability. He was also quite content to remain a child at heart. I am not making value judgments, for each individual has his own purposes, and his unique abilities are so intimately connected with his own characteristics that it makes no sense to make that kind of comparison—but Picasso, for example, was an alien to profound thought.”

—Seth/Jane Roberts, The Personal Sessions, Vol. 5, Deleted Session, April 9, 1980

From Wikipedia:

‘In 1944, Picasso joined the French Communist Party. He attended the 1948 World Congress of Intellectuals in Defense of Peace in Poland, and in 1950 received the Stalin Peace Prize from the Soviet government. Party criticism in 1953 of his portrait of Stalin as insufficiently realistic cooled Picasso’s interest in Soviet politics, though he remained a loyal member of the Communist Party until his death. His dealer, D-H. Kahnweiler, a socialist, termed Picasso’s communism “sentimental” rather than political, saying “He has never read a line of Karl Marx, nor of Engels of course.” In a 1945 interview with Jerome Seckler, Picasso stated: “I am a Communist and my painting is Communist painting. … But if I were a shoemaker, Royalist or Communist or anything else, I would not necessarily hammer my shoes in a special way to show my politics.” His commitment to communism, common among continental intellectuals and artists at the time, has long been the subject of some controversy; a notable demonstration thereof was a quote by Salvador Dalí (with whom Picasso had a rather strained relationship):Picasso es pintor, yo también; […] Picasso es español, yo también; Picasso es comunista, yo tampoco.(Picasso is a painter, so am I; […] Picasso is a Spaniard, so am I; Picasso is a communist, neither am I.) …

‘According to Jean Cocteau‘s diaries, Picasso once said to him in reference to the communists: “I have joined a family, and like all families, it’s full of shit.”‘

Here are Dali’s ratings of Picasso:

Technique: 9

Inspiration: 19

Color: 9

Subject: 18

Genius: 20

Composition: 16

Originality: 7

Mystery: 2

Authenticity: 7

A few years back, I read that Picasso actually denied being influenced by African art:

“Later in his life, Picasso would deny he had been inspired by African art, while making Les Demoiselles d’Avignon in 1907 (partly because of political, patriotic reasons — Picasso preferred to emphasize the Iberian nature of the painting), but there seems to be ample evidence that he was familiar with, and was already collecting African art while making the Demoiselles.”

“Cézanne, as you know, was not a happy man. He could have been a far better artist still, for if his vision was intense, my dear friend, it was cramped, and it moved within itself in an agony to find a creative release that could never be found in the creative product alone, but in the psyche from which that product emerges.”

—Seth/Jane Roberts, The Personal Sessions, Vol. 5, Deleted Session, November 12, 1979

“If you are a creator in those terms, you will use any society as a part of your medium. You think of a work of art as composed, say, of a theme or overall design, of various techniques and personal idiosyncrasies; and yet works of art, while transcending time, are indelibly impressed by the times also. A Rembrandt living today would be an entirely different Rembrandt, granted that he used his gifts fully.”

—Seth/Jane Roberts, The Personal Sessions, Vol. 4, Deleted Session, November 28, 1977


‘Again, there can be a useful analogy in the field of art. While artists all use the same “material” — the human experience — it is still the brilliant uniqueness or individuality pointing out and riding upon that shared human performance that makes a work “great.” Afterward the critics may point out patterns, assign the work to a certain school, connect the images or symbols to those in other paintings — and then make the mistake of believing the symbols to be general, always apt, meaning the same thing wherever they are found. But all of this may have little to do with the artist’s interpretation of his own symbols, or with his personal experience, so he may wonder how the critics could read this into his work.

(Jane’s husband, Rob, wrote: ‘Too true. As an artist myself, I’ve experienced this “critical” phenomenon more than once. Sometimes the results have been laughable — but more often they’ve been frustrating. I’ve also been praised or criticized for elements that I hadn’t realized existed in a painting, while my conscious intentions were ignored or unperceived. That can be even more mystifying: “Are they talking about my painting?”’ Some of his paintings adorned the covers of reprinted Seth books.)

‘With dreams the same is true. No one really knows their meaning but yourself. If you read books in which you are told that a certain object always represents such and such, then you are like the artist who accepts the critic’s idea of the symbols in his own work. You will feel alienated from your dreams since you are trying to make them follow a pattern that is not yours.’

—Jane Roberts/Seth, The Nature of Personal Reality, Session 641, February 19, 1973

Further, Seth/Jane Roberts asserts that spiders consider their webs to be works of art and:

“It amazes the spiders that flies so kindly fall into those webs. You might say that the spider wonders that art can be so practical.” (from The Individual and the Nature of Mass Events, Chapter 9: Session 863, June 27, 1979)


“…the differences in the individual webs are not obvious to you, only to the spiders.” (from The Personal Sessions, Vol. 5, deleted session, April 9, 1980)


The Overton window is the range of policies politically acceptable to the mainstream population at a given time. It is also known as the window of discourse.

In the U.S., when it comes to Ukraine, the window is like a thin slit in the wall since the 30 Dems who, in a pretty-please letter, urged Biden to negotiate with Russia have now thought the better of extolling this reasonableness and have withdrawn the letter with Rep. Pramila Jayapal blaming her staff for its release.

The letter was “shouted down” by fellow Democrats and media pundits. Even Bernie Sanders saw fit the criticize the letter. Former Rep. Dennis Kucinich is disturbed by this turn of events. He once tried to create a U.S. Department of Peace.

In contrast, outside of the United States, the Overton window is wide open enough for calls for peace from UN Secretary General Guterres, Pope Francis, and the leaders of 66 countries speaking at the UN General Assembly in September, representing the majority of the world’s population.  

Peace activist David Swanson wrote this piece: The Vicious Nasty Fascist Racists [such as Rep. Paul Gosar] Are Right About Ukraine, and a following piece has within it a good summary of little-known facts about the war in Ukraine.

Advocating diplomacy to end Russia’s war in Ukraine is not a radical concept. Indeed, international law requires that countries pursue diplomatic means to resolve international conflicts. Putin has expressed an interest in precisely that.

Petition to Biden to get on board here.

The End.

Next week (subject to change): Still More Selections from Mcyclopedia, Little Known, NPR’s Terry Gross

Boilerplate: As part of my community project as Racine Writer in Residence, I hereby invite Racine-area people to send me prose or poems of 250 words or less for me to consider for inclusion in my posts as a “guest appearance.” Former Racine Writers in Residence, I want to explicitly include you in this invitation. If you want, also send a photo and a very short “bio.” You will retain the copyright for the material you submit. Send to at with “Racine WiR” in the subject line. Thank you.

Don’t hide your light under a bushel-sized basket; it is recommended that you let it be all shiny.

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