This article appeared in the NY Times yesterday:
It’s by Holland Carter, one of their art critics. In these final paragraphs, he explains, better than I, what I was trying to get at the other day…the difference between art that is to be admired (realistic Fechin, reproducing an old style) and art that let’s you participate and develop your own understandings/interpretations. I prefer the kind of art that actively involves me, gives me a place/way to enter it.
Thanks for thinking about it,
“Despite my developing, changing tastes, though, the early art experience I remember most clearly as decisive, the convincer, was undramatic, happened outside a museum and involved a kind of art I didn’t at the time know or care much about. One of my teachers in grade school, no idea who, decided that art appreciation was a good idea and handed out packs of postcard-size reproductions of paintings. Of the several I shuffled through, I remember just one: Matisse’s 1913 “Blue Window.”
“Whatever I’d encountered at the museum, this was the strangest art I’d ever seen, because it seemed so empty and unfinished. No people, no story, paintwork like crayon drawing in a coloring book. The image was of a room, a little like a room at home, but spatially ambiguous, without dimension. There was a window, and outside it what looked like balloons tethered to a pole. I could tell this was meant to be a tree, and a white oval in the “sky,” a cloud.
“Inside, on a square, a tabletop — it could easily have been the floor — stood several objects. I name three: a vase of flowers, a plate with something on it and a lamp. But even the unidentifiable forms were empathically there, like some of Dickinson’s more difficult images: inscrutable but exact.
“The more I looked at the picture, the better I liked it. I liked what I saw as its modesty, its tentativeness and its otherworldliness. (Heaven was blue, wasn’t it?) I liked that it was furnished with the idea of things, rather than actual things. I liked its semi-emptiness. I liked that it had stories not yet told. There was room for a writer-to-be in there.”