Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Art In Person

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

Speaking of art, I think some art has to be seen to be fully appreciated. Sometimes the reality is not accurately portrayed by pictures or prints. That subtle something different comes across in reality but not in static images. Is it the lighting, being able to see from different angles, or something else? Perhaps a real appreciation of scale of the work that is missing in photographs? Perhaps several things.

The “primitive” paintings of Grandma Moses for example. The paint drip works of Jackson Pollock are another example. They are different somehow from what people think they could create themselves as I talked about in my last post.

But in both those cases I think you have to see their works in real life to fully appreciate them. I know I never really understood what people saw in Pollock’s works until I saw a could of them in person. That’s also true of some work that can be somewhat appreciated from photographs but which are much more impactful in person.

Two works that come to mind are Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte and Michelangelo’s Moses. I was impressed with both from pictures in books but when I first saw them in person I was amazed. First off both of them are huge pieces of work.

The couple in the foreground of La Grande Jatte are pretty much life sized. The work takes up the whole wall of the room where it is displayed. (Art Institute of Chicago which is a must visit in Chicago for me.)

Michelangelo’s Moses is more than life size. And the figure is carved with powerful looking muscles. It looks as if it could come to life and toss people around the room. (Its in the church of St.Mary Major in Rome and well worth a visit.) The Pieta gets more attention but to me this is the piece worth seeing.

Besides you can’t get as close to the Pieta as you used to. I’ve seen both close up and still prefer the Moses. Though I will tell you that the Pieta is a lot more impressive close up than it is from a distance and viewed through the Plexiglas wall it is behind now. Like so many other things getting close is to get a much better appreciation of the work.

And that my friends is why art museums will probably never go out of business and why collectors pay serious money for the real thing.

Art or Doodles?

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

Over time I have become a big fan of Hugh MacLeod. His work and indeed who he is are both sort of difficult to classify. Part public relations or marketing person, part cartoonist, part blogger, part artist, well, that’s a start. He’s particularly well known in tech circles for drawing cartoons on the back of business cards. He also designed the “Blue Monster” cartoon that a lot of people at Microsoft have adopted as an unofficial social object. Currently he lives in West Texas where he works on his art and consults. He also travels quite a bit. Following him on Twitter is interesting.

So here is the thing. At first glance his drawings, be they larger works or cartoons on the back of a business card, look like doodles. Perhaps something someone would draw while bored. But for many people, including me, there is something more, something artistic, about what he draws. It’s that sort of thing you first think anyone can draw until you realize that isn’t quite true. There is a style, a character, a special hard to put your finger on difference there.

I think that is what makes an artist. There is something about them or their style that communicates something subtle or perhaps larger than life but that is somehow different from the way others show things. I’m not so sure that can be taught.