All art is competition: to begin with there is the artist competing with her art’s own inner image. She imagined one thing and created another. Now the latter must be transformed into the former. She cannot win this battle against the infinitely, quick footed, invisible enemy: her own imagination. Still, this sweet contest is the original source of the human desire to create beauty.
As soon as the finished piece of art confronts the viewers there is more rivalry in the air. The viewers can’t help imagining themselves. Perhaps their imaginings came out of their fantasies about the artist, and out of their views of her abilities or the power of the medium. Or perhaps these viewers have already seen a reproduction of the painting and wrestle with their own memory.
This reminds me of the Louvre, of battling with the tourist mob and its clicking cameras until we finally stand before the Mona Lisa, the worlds most discussed painting. At first we can see anything because our imagination has been fed so many impressions that the small, rather inconspicuous painting can hardly keep up. But just like every other painting it possesses the invaluable advantage of physical reality. This is why any dab of paint will always touch us more strongly than the fleeting word. And now I will return from the lofty to the ground.
A few days ago I attended the opening of my wife’s art exhibition at a location which properly showed the contest between word vs. picture, between written vs. painted truth. The place of the exhibition was a library. From the viewpoint of the books that lived there already, it was an invasion… [continue reading]
[Image: Part of «Parisiennes 3 (triptych)” by Carlye Birkenkrahe]