Thursday, October 26, 2006

My bit to Chris Miller's blog comments


I am intrigued by your conversation with Lian Neill.

First of all the understanding of your comment (in italics);

………Rhythm and Melody………..

These words point to qualities that I think are sorely missing from the re-birth of figurative art --- in both painting and sculpture -- where anatomy is (regretfully) accepted as the basic knowledge that is fundamental to good figure sculpture

There is the meaning 1. figuratively speaking…and
2. figurative, as in the realistic human figure…….

In the flow of your conversation, “abstract”, in the meaning associated with Giacometti’s “couple”, might be closer to figuratively speaking than to, figurative as in the (realistic) human figure!

An individual sculptor is going to have a style of his own and mixed with his mistakes (recognised or not, by the viewer; himself included) will add to the degree of abstraction in the work. Matisse’s works below illustrate my meaning.

Liam is I think talking about symbolism when he refers to hieroglyphics. Matisse’s 4th work here is almost a Hieroglyphic where the first is a more complex form. Comparing the general understanding of what was meant by “Art” in 1880 from that of 1980 I believe in the concept that only time will judge a work and only a very few works will always be in “fashion”.

My view, for what it is worth, is expressed below and published in 1919, 2 years after this urinal was being created and exhibited as “Art” in New York.

The book is roughly based on Gauguin’s life;

…art is a manifestation of emotion, and emotion speaks a language that all may understand… I cannot agree with the artists who claim superciliously that the layman can understand nothing of Art, and that he can best show his appreciation of their works by silence and a cheque-book. (W. Somerset Maugham, The Moon and sixpence, edition 10 (Vintage, London, 1999) pp.2.)

Musical terms such as Rhythm and Melody have made me think about my own work and whether they have such attributes! This has made me think about what Rhythm and Melody mean in terms of metal or stone (or other solid material).

Rhythm ~Symmetry and Regularity, Beat, Flow, Proportion, Time, Repetition, Pulsating sound or feeling often pleasing to the senses and fundamental to the art form of “Dance” .

Melody ~ Sequence of agreeable musical sounds or notes, Air, Tune, Sweet sounds agreeable to the ear as in; babbling brook or whispering sounds of the wind in the trees etc. (Melody often has rhythm too).

The important theme in both is “Pleasing and agreeable”. Never in a month of Sundays would I describe the urinal thus, except in relief of finding one when urgently needed!

Sometimes I think it is better to just let it flow and not think too much about such high literary concepts. Better get on and do some work or we will starve!

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Blogger chris miller said...

I looked up those Matisse works in a library book this week -- and discovered, to my surprise, that they were were made sequentially over the course of 20 years.

In my worthless opinion -- any one of these directions could be taken towards making an outstanding sculpture -- but Matisse did not demonstrate the ability to do it.

As a painter -- I find him often (but not always) very enjoyable.

But as a sculptor -- I think he was just an art star goofing around.

In the graphic arts, I happen to like a lot of what you might call hieroglyphics -- i.e. Asian caligraphy -- and actually, the caligraphy in the margins of a Chinese landscape is often just as compelling to me as the depiction of trees, hills, errant scholars etc.

But I've never seen completely non-representational sculpture that could hold my attention (unless that category includes architecture)

Not that I consider it impossible -- it's just that I haven't seen it yet.

(maybe the closest thing would be Chinese rocks -- those weird looking, fragments that get mounted on a base and contemplated for their representation of natural forces)

11:03 pm  
Blogger Robert said...

Yes, we had them on exhibition together in London 3 or 4 years ago which is what made me think of them. I too agree that his success as a sculptor is a bit thin. Only a few paintings are worthy of note and they really "make him". I have found this about a lot of Artists and Sculptors who are acknowledged masters by the great and good. Only a few of them have produced a large number of only master pieces with each whisk of brush or chisel. I often think I must destroy most of work!

11:19 pm  
Blogger Robert said...

- last should read- I often think I must destroy most of my work!

11:23 pm  

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