Blackpaint 99

David  Smith

I’ve been reading some of his lectures on sculpture and art in general and I have to quote some of his points, since they are very close to what I think – or rather, I am very close to what he thinks: “To understand a work of art, it must be seen and perceived, not worded.  Words can be used to place art historically, to set it in social context, to describe the movements, to relate it to other works, to state individual preferences, and to set the scene all around it.  But the actual understanding of a work of art only comes through the process by which it was created – and that was by perception”.

Again, writing about his own “Hudson River Landscape”, he describes how he made sketches from the train and how he accidentally threw ink over his hand when opening the bottle – and incorporated that into his sketches by placing his hand on the paper.  That led him mentally to “other landscapes and their objects”, which were incorporated in the final sculpture.  He writes: “You can reject it, like it, pretend to like it, or almost like it, but its understanding will never come with words…”

So – that’s great for the artist; not so good for the critic or commentator.  No need to explain or expound, or defend – you either get it or you don’t.

Interestingly, when he lists the things you can do with words, he leaves out description.  I suppose there’s not much point in description without evaluation, but you could say things like “the painting consists of a series of diagonal black stripes on a sky blue background” (description) or “The use of a dark grey background tends to create an atmosphere of unease” (evaluation, sort of)…

Jonathan Jones on Michelangelo and Leonardo

In today’s Guardian, Jones writes about the Mona Lisa and Michelangelo’s statue of David.  Referring to the latter’s “gargantuan” right hand, he points out correctly that Michelangelo has lavished great attention to it, the knuckles and veins modelled in minute detail.  Unfortunately, he develops his argument – that this is “a body still growing and changing” – by saying that “The hand is the most radical instance of a quality that all David’s parts possess: they are separate and  slightly at odds with each other, like characters in a play.”

Why “unfortunately”?  Because I was aware of the hand – now when I look, it seems to me that the neck is too thick and long and the legs a little too short and thin…   Only trying for cheap controversy, of course.

The picture below is not a Leonardo, nor a Michelangelo – but I’m sure you will notice certain similarities to them

Listening to Do Re Mi by Woody Guthrie.

“If you aint got the do-re-mi, boys, if you aint got the do-re-mi,

you’d better go back to beautiful Texas;

Oklahoma, Kansas, Georgia, Tennessee.”



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