At the Baltimore Museum of Art yesterday I witnessed countless (well, hundreds) of examples of silly "art": buzzing neon lights, meaningless splatters of paint, decaying food fragments, arbitrary arrangements of objects, ... --- forgettable foolishness that only found its way into a gallery because of the celebrity of its creator, the glibness of its promoter, or the wealth (and gullibility) of its collector.

But in stark contrast to the fluff, the BMA also showed works of art --- drawings, paintings, sculptures, etc. that struggled to represent reality and to say something about it. The genuine art seemed to have a necessity to it, an inevitability, coherence, and integration. Change any part, and the whole would become something less.

On a display of one of his small bronzes was a quote from Henri Matisse (1941):

"I took up sculpture because what interested me was a clarification of my ideas. ... It was always in view of a complete possession of mind, a sort of hierarchy of all my sensations, that I kept working in the hope of finding an ultimate conclusion."

And in a brochure at the exhibit ("Seeing with Fresh Eyes: Matisse in The Cone Collection", by Linda Andre) Matisse further noted:

"Each picture as I finish it, seems like the best thing I have ever done ... and yet after a while I am not so sure. It is like taking a train to Marseille. One knows where one wants to go. Each painting completed is like a station --- just so much nearer the goal. The time comes when the painter is apt to feel he has at last arrived. Then, if he is honest, he realizes one of two things --- either that he has not arrived after all or that Marseille ... is not where he wanted to go anyway, and he must push farther on."

(see ConversationsInPaint and GoodMistakes)

TopicArt - 2001-09-01

(correlates: NewPlace, GetWhatYouNeed, OnFriction, ...)