HW 1

Dear Everyone,

Homework the first has been posted in the Assignments tab. It is due Thursday, 6 February 2014, at the beginning of class.

Barnett Newman was an American Abstract Expressionist who is particularly noted for his “zip” paintings, which are characterized by vertical strips that contrast with the rest of the work. This one’s called “Vir Heroicus Sublimis” (“Man, Heroic and Sublime”). Newman wrote a related essay called “The Sublime Is Now” and you can read it here. I do think it’s a good idea for an artist whose work is as abstract as Newman’s to do some writing in order to expound on his artistic philosophy and sensibility. Seems only right. The painting is in the MoMA, so you have no excuse not to see it at some point in your life, especially since Stony Brook students get in for free. Just go to the information desk, show your ID and be like “Eyy whatup gurl lemme get a ticket” and they have to give you one. It’s the law.


“During the Middle Ages, probably one of the biggest mistakes was not putting on your armor because you were ‘just going down to the corner.'”

– not Barnett Newman

Some notes on distribution

    As many of you no doubt noticed, the exam 3 grades are posted. A number of people earned a perfect score, mad props for that. Here’s a table with statistics for each of the exams as well as for weighted averages that I calculated as follows:

HW + .24*(exam 1 grade) + .28*(exam 2 grade) +.28*(exam 3 grade)
where HW = average of your first eight homework assignments (out of 20 points). Obviously this statistic isn’t perfect, but it’s as good as I can do at the moment. Keep in mind that the rightmost column will change after the final, and it will almost certainly go up 


Exam 1 Exam 2 Exam 3 Weighted Average
25th percentile 55 48.5 70.75 58.52
median 66 68 84 71.77
75th percentile 78 81 90.25 81.93
85th percentile 84 85.2 95 86.15
    As for the final: the reason I made it optional was basically to benefit those of you who have done really well this semester. If you have excellent marks already then you have nothing left to prove on the final, since you’ve already been tested on all the material, so I figure why should I make you sit for a final. Most of you should want to take the final, as it is an opportunity to show what you know and make up for any poor performance earlier in the semester. You’ll have the sheet of notes, so you don’t have to worry about memorizing everything from the whole semester; also, you’ll have choices about which problems to do. 

I saw a painting I liked by Chaim Soutine at the MoMA:

It’s called Man in a Green Coat. Soutine lived in Paris around the same time as Amedeo “Mo Diggity, Mo Doubt” Modigliani (and a million other great artists like Chagall and Picasso and all those big dogs). Modigliani is the more famous artist, but that could be partly because of the mythos surrounding his reckless lifestyle (he was a tremendous drunk, hit the hashish hard, and chased the green fairy all around Paris (but mostly Montmartre) until he died at 35). Modigliani painted Soutine a couple of times:
but a better work of his is the Red Nude, which I’m not going to post in case some of y’all are sensitive like the Paris Chief of Police who in 1917 shut down Mo Diggity’s exhibition for being too scandalous.

HW 7 Solutions posted / The rest of the year

– You may be interested to know that the solutions to homework 7 are available for viewing in the Documents tab. 

– I will hold office hours as usual tomorrow from 3-5

– Our last in-class test will be on the last day of class: Wednesday 4 December 2013; it will cover all the material we’ve done since the second test. I’ll post a more comprehensive list of subjects for you as the date approaches. Note that there are only two days of new material left. 
– Start thinking about the material you found most difficult throughout the year, so I can focus on that during the review class (Monday 2 December 2013). Send me emails about it and I’ll take note of what people have found most difficult.

So I’m listening to this artist called Druid Cloak and this track Ghost Iron comes up and reminds me of J Dilla which is weird because Druid Cloak is more of a future garage producer but anyway I took it as a sign to mention J Dilla to you, because J Dilla is dope. Donuts is one of the best instrumental albums of all time. That playlist isn’t mixed ideally for listening to the album, but it’s still good. Every time I have cause to say “working on it” I do it like the Dilla track Workinonit. 

Other tight, essential albums: Endtroducing….. by DJ Shadow and Music Has The Right to Children by Boards of Canada (both stone-cold classics), From Here We Go Sublime by The Field and Untrue  by Burial (not really similar albums, but they both came out in the same year and were a big reason I got into electronic music. Actually all five of these albums are quite different from one another.)
Did you know that SUNY students get free admission to the MoMA????? I just found out, and I’m super stoked. Gonna get my Magritte on this weekend! Y’all ain’t ready! 
Between that and the Met‘s policy of ‘recommended’ ticket prices (a.k.a., pay two dollars cos I’m poor (one of my friends only gives a penny)) life is good in our fair state for those of high taste and low income.