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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Art, As It Is

The word “art” comes out of the 13th century, referring to a skill acquired after much practice. A “work of art” is the result of the skill-in-practice. This is perhaps why I have such a difficulty with different artistic styles. Beginning with myself, I am not a painter nor am I am illustrator so I just leave such expression well enough alone. Despite my efforts and best practice, I cannot “see” a pleasurable result in what I put on canvas or paper. I rather enjoy the skill of others in this manner.

This leads to a question: What is “abstract?”

  • As an adjective, that is which is abstract exists in thought, an idea. No tangibility or existence. 
  • As a noun, we refer to the theoretical or that which is something else.
So what is “abstract art?” Abstract art should defy definition; however, some may identify it as an expression autonomous of any reference; that is, independent in and of itself. So is “abstract art” possible? No. Art and skill go together, producing a coherent result. “Abstract” is without skill, for the moment it is, then it crosses the boundaries into perception.

I once dropped a 200 ounce bale of silver wire that exploded in such a mess that I threatened to call airports around the country to offer my new work of art for sale at the cost of millions of dollars. What’s the difference between Jackson Pollock and anything I can produce on the garage floor (other than the fact that I am not a basket case)? It’s not fair.

The problem is not new. Giotto (an artist in the late middle ages) recognized that picture art moved away from reality. Nothing was believable in what was being displayed. Scenes were flat, unnatural, even separated from the viewer. Giotto brought back depth and action and natural movement, focusing his attention on the greatest scenes imaginable for inspiration: biblical narrative.

His artwork is not super or grand as others--most folks have never heard of Giotto-- but his art stands out by making skillful statements both theologically and philosophically. Nature is natural, not unnatural. There is only the natural expression that identifies nature as it is. Also, man is a created being, not a symbol and very much like his Creator, creative.

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