Friday, February 25, 2011

ugh! I should rename my last post

Kandinsky and his ilk thought that a painting could change the world. This was in pre-WWI european society: the eve before we began showing each other just how awful and deadly we could be! The effect of industrialism were now widespread. The modernist in the early 20th century wanted to awake the human spirit through visceral reactions in art (also before shock tactics . . . but in a sense, their works were pretty shocking). Through pure colour and form sensations, (which were being transcribed by the intuitions and "inner needs" of the modernist painters, sculptors, architects . . .) we were going to transcend the impending doom of trench warfare and world wide epidemics.

Much has happened in the past 100 years and the notion of the artist painting from inner need has been exhausted (ie. abstract expressionism: Pollock, deKooning, etc) so my question: can a painting change the world?

More specific to Kandinsky's work is his analogy of his forms and colours to music "Colour is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand which plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul." (Concerning the Spritual in Art, Wassily Kandinsky, Dover Publications, 1977, first published in the United Kingdom by Constable and Company, 1914). My question for this aspect of his art is: how does this translate in a monochromatic drawing?

One last issue for discussion is the temporal quality of the work. Kandinsky's painting in 1914 seems to happen all at the same time, like a flash. Alot of stuff is going on and I find it a bit much to absorb. So I would like to see something "longer" in terms of time.

Kandinsky's motives to paint Composition VII, 1913: to enact a visceral response in the viewer that would lead to a shift of idealogy in the human spirit.
I think in part that it's true. A piece of art can change the world. Maybe not to the degree that the modernists had hoped it would . . . and probably not on its own. But I do believe that once we see a drawing, we are forever changed . . . especially when it's something unexpected and unfamiliar. What a drawing has that a painting lacks is this sense of not being finished. A drawing is akin to a thought: ever evolving with time and scrutiny. A painting has a feeling of finality to it: like its a final statement or resolution of an issue. Richard Serra says "drawing is a verb" (bromance). So my point is that I want to make a drawing in response to Kandinsky's painting that will illicit a response to the unfamiliar and the unusual in the viewer with the notion that this isn't the final say . . . but more the asking of the question . . . or formulating the question. I enjoy the analogy to music in shape and form but I'd like to give it an "ipod" twist. Or at least evoke the idea of the digitization of music (and our spirit?).
Seems like I've posed more questions by trying to find the answers to the first ones. But I guess that's what makes art so much fun :)
Richard Serra
Wassily Kandinsky

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