Friday, January 1, 2010
About the Pleasure Factor
There are a great many qualities that can be present in a work of art. I will name some and mention some painters that come to mind. Drama: Francisco Goya, Pablo Picasso; Fine drawing: Rembrandt van Rijn, Jean Auguste Ingres; Luscious color: Richard Diebenkorn, Mark Rothko; Delicious use of paint: Sean Scully, Howard Hodgkins, Jasper Johns; Elegant design: Paul Klee, Elsworth Kelly, Piet Mondrian, Henri Matisse, Sol LeWitt; Pattern: Pierre Bonnard, Gustav Klimt. There are also political statements and social commentary and, of course, sentimentality. Paintings can be intended to produce an emotional response in the viewer (only successful if the painter is feeling the emotion): Picasso’s Guernica, for example, otherwise just manipulative of the viewer. That’s the tip of the iceberg; there are more elements to be found in paintings and as many amalgamations of them as there are and have been painters.
Some of my own opinions and biases are: skill in painting is the least interesting of the ingredients in a work of art, necessary to a point but dangerous to the painter as it can become the reason for the painting. Good taste is the kiss of death. I want some kind of delight. Think JMW Turner, Claude Monet. The artists I mention are not necessarily the artists I have emulated and learned from. They are some of those that I admire and enjoy and am happy to see again and again.
Agnes Martin (very fine drawing) said: “The function of artwork is the stimulation of the sensibilities.” I guess our preferences have to do with which of our sensibilities we want to prod.
The image above is Fountain, acrylic & mixed media on paper mounted on canvas, 35” x 92”, painted in 1999. For information about any of the paintings seen on this site please email Joan.