Art In America (Part Two)
One of my favorite Abstract Impressionists is Jackson Pollock. The guy who did the paint splatters. Don’t think 1980s fashion, think purposefully designed layers of color put down over time to form dynamic, expressive and textured compositions. This was called Action Painting and you can see why. What was he saying? What was he proving? I don’t think he was saying anything and that’s where the confusion comes in. People think that each painting “says” something. If it doesn’t “speak” to them it’s not art. Art is not that literal all the time. Sometimes it is full of symbolism and allegory. Sometimes it’s an experiment in color and form and space. Sometimes it’s a celebration of beauty or even strangeness or ugliness. I’ve been lost in a Jackson Pollock painting for long spaces of time. Sometimes it’s like watching a moving picture.
Art communicates but it is not communication. Art cannot heal. Art is not more important than human life. Art has a place. Anywhere it can be seen. But it doesn't have to be inside a museum. A tagger or graffiti artist is an artist if he cares for the thing he creates. A filmmaker is an artist if what she makes intends to impress on the viewer something more than the words and pictures. Art is always more than the sum of its parts.
Picasso and Braque are two of the most famous painters in the Cubism movement. They are fine examples of that movement which is shared by Jackson Pollock, Abstract Impressionism. Instead of forgoing figure and representation they took figure and representation and broke it down. They examined it not only in its parts but also in its movement represented by lines, shapes and color. They abstracted faces and interweaved them with the pieces of other objects. It is an analytical approach to representation, mostly using earthy colors, a backlash against Impressionism that celebrated color and light.
As a fan of art I feel that art that doesn't make you sit there and contemplate at least for a few minutes hasn't done its job. At least my personal favorite artworks do that for me. I’ve seen art make of feces and it doesn't make me think of anything more than what it is. I've seen paintings that I've stared at for a long time and then returned for more. Like a font I come back to it because I thirst for it again and again. It draws me to it like a magnet. I am impressed and astounded not only by the forms, figures and colors but the time it was done. The person who did it.
That is what makes art so special that it is created by people. It is not accidental. You can find things in nature or that occur by accident and frame them and make them art but the point of view of a person behind the creation or the framing is what makes it art. When it comes down to it, a flower is beautiful but it is not art. But if you take that flower and put it in a frame and arrange it, you’ve made it art.
Friday, October 21, 2005
Art In America (Part Two)