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: Rambling; Art History
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Jan 25th 2010
When I was in college, I took an Art History survey course. It wasn’t the first one I would take, nor the last. In it, the “Great Works” of the world were lined up in a neat line, starting with the Lascaux cave paintings by “Pagan Barbarians” to the Renaissance Masters before puttering out sometime before the Modernity. It was a very nice, very neat line. It was beautiful in its simplicity, in the “evolution” of art from one form to another.
Jan 25th 2010
Art is not a line, neatly written. It is not done in a vacuum, in some rare form of isolation without contact from the world. Indeed, for much of history, Art was created in workshops, a group effort. Not only was it done as a group creation, it was done in response to the world around it; and where do artists find their own inspiration but the world? We live, we breathe, we observe the world, and those memories (real or augmented or blurred by time) slip their way into creation. Artists talk to their patrons. They talk to their friends, and snark their rivals.
The line given should have been a scribble, worthy of any surrealist’s tantrum. For while art has become in many cases a private thing, with the current societal way being to do things alone, there are always connections and linkages to the world around.
Take, for example, a piece seen at a local gallery. The composition mirrors that of a famous impressionist piece, but with the folk-art conventions of simplified forms, scrawling, and rather battered perspective. It can’t be taken for a copy of VanGogh’s buildings; the handling of it’s so completely different in nature and not methodical; this piece was done quickly, with rough and jittery works of a hand. The keen eye can observe the novice’s inspirational sources before being told what hall of the AIC she prefers to wander; and intended or not, it shows.
The creation of a work is a mixture of all one’s experiences and knowledge put to the task of forcing paper to look like something it’s not. To make it look alive, and vital, to show, to communicate… and is part of a dialogue of scribbles and dashes, blobs of paint and turpentine, letters that cross time and space and all the nitty gritty dirtiness of life.
If you remove all that from art, how it’s connected to the people who made it and why and the time and place it was made in? You might as well have a blank sheet of paper… and how many variations of a polar bear in a snowstorm can one look at?
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