Sunday, 15 November 2009

Art for Art's Sake?

Blond Bather - Auguste Renoir

She exudes youth and fecundity but also a certain wisdom. Is this her knowledge or does it belong to Renoir? The upturned mouth and the heaviness of her eyes suggest inevitability, an acceptance.

She is in concord with her surroundings; has become one with the sea and the land. There on her rock, the short expanse of blue-black separates her from an accessible civilisation just beyond. But this distance does not exclude her.

To a child, she may be a mermaid. To a woman, hope. To a man, desire.

Have you ever seen a work of art that you must step into? Something so commanding that it consumes you and you lose yourself in its beauty, its devilment, its mysteriousness? You become for a while entwined, inseparable? You live in that space for a few seconds, minutes, hours? Your perception is altered or you glimpse another way of being? Of feeling?

Or maybe not? Because that is just as valid too, isn’t it?


  1. I'd like to create a gallery of the works of art, etc, that you mention. If you'd like these to be included, please message me on twitter or facebook with the link and I'll put them all up on a subsequent post. Thanks x

  2. I spent a good part of the eighties visiting museums, educating myself on what naturally appealed to me. I remember feeling a swirl of excitement when I viewed a collection of the most significant impressionist that spawned out of the turn of the 20th century.

    Gustave Caillebotte and his brilliant use of light

    Van Gogh and his Reaper under the days sun exuding a moment of hope in his painful life

    The ethereal sexiness of Monet

    The struggle of the identity of women with Cassatt

    Impressionism is all about emotion; through the brush strokes to the color. The subject reaches inward and you are allowed to feel a painting.

    . . . and yes, I cried when I saw some of the originals.

  3. So many, too many to choose from! But whenever I go to Tate Modern I sit in the room of Rothko's Seagram Murals...megalithic, sombre, shifting and mythic...and have my perception altered

  4. Only one painting has ever actually stopped me in my tracks. "Christ of St John on the Cross" by Dali:

    I still don't know why. I'm not especially religious, it doesn't make me think of anything in particular, it doesn't evoke any identifiable emotions... I just fall into it. Maybe it's a much-needed holiday for my brain?

    When I lived in Glasgow I had to visit the painting at least once a month, and each visit meant standing stock still lost in the image for at least ten minutes. Something that powerful you just don't analyse I guess.

  5. Dali's "The Temptation of Saint Anthony" is the one that does it for me. Once you get away from the scary horse at the front, the idea of long legged elephants has always appealed to me.

  6. WhenI first saw this post I was very excited as art is one of my "things", I had every intention of being very gushing on the subject - siting loads of paintings/sculptures/installations that I love - unsurprisingly I ended up not writing anything at all, so... paintings I could walk into are many - anything by John Miller (the blue/cream, beach/sea ones that I often try & recreate),anything by Turner - to experience the quality of his light (could it actually exist in the real world?)I'm not so keen on "traditional" oil paintings of animals/countryside/galleons - you know what I mean. I used to have a very poor opinion of "modern" art, but now it's one of my favourite fields - I think there's very much an element of the Emperor's New Clothes involved, with more than a few chancers churning out talentless/thoughtless garbage which is swallowed by the critics (but not often by the public). Most of all, I like the fact that modern art promotes reaction & discussion. I find art everywhere - I can sit on a bench and watch the clouds making ever changing awe inspiring art, watch a river and be amazed at the shimmering play of light on the water, pretty much everything is amazing if you look at it with a child's innocence and wonder...

  7. For years I've been haunted by Anthony Van Dyck's "Venetia Stanley, Lady Digby on her Deathbed".

    Venetia was the wife of Sir Kenelm Digby, a seventeenth-century courtier, natural philosopher and alchemist, and may have been accidentally poisoned by medicines devised by her husband in an attempt to preserve her beauty.

    Whatever the truth may have been, Digby was so distressed by her death that he had casts made of her hands and face, and a portrait painted by Anthony Van Dyck, another alchemist.

    Perhaps this explains Digby's later fascination with the possibility of recreating life by alchemical means.

    Ever since I first saw the picture I've found it heavy with hidden meanings, and even more so once I started researching Digby's life, but I'm still unsure about its true message.