Friday, February 4, 2011

Precision versus “More-or-Less”

Every art-work that is worthy of our admiration radiates powerful sense of authority. It is constructed and executed in such intricate way that we are forced to see absolute air of necessity spanning across each molecule of it. Nothing could be altered, removed, omitted-we are confronted with an object that is closed, concluded not unlike a flower or an oak. It is realized to its utmost of being and presents itself with unmistakable authority. One of the first impressions upon viewing such art-work is the pleasure of its completeness.
To myself I call it precision, even though it may be not the best name, because it might be confused with some tedious mechanical imitation and that is surely not what is meant here. I think of precision of Shakespearian sonnet or “Madonna of Chancellor Rolin” by van Eyck.
To that difficult end all the efforts of an artist, I believe should be leading. One of the ways to look at it would be to think that the artist at the very start is gazing at a piece of modern art, an empty panel. Minimalism, to be sure. Now-he can simply approve it as the very best he can possibly do and sign it knowing that some respectable museum is still missing an empty canvas as a good example of that important trend in modern art-or, he can take the slippery risk of covering it with some paint, already admitting to belong to the tardy lot that is “still” painting, rather than overstepping the” limitations” of the canvas. Now, the further he goes in constructing the image the further he recedes from the newest in modern art. If some sensible voice should fail to stop him before much is done he may come to the territory where expressiveness, meaning, beauty, observation of visible world ,poetical interpretation of the experienced world is –and that could be very troubling, because that is just what “old” art were about for thousands of years. Why would one want to be in such company?! And that is where modern artist would cautiously pull back and proudly sign his new creation. Something is there, something greasy and spattered with simulated “passion” and ready for admiration.


  1. Interesting post Henryk,

    I'm wondering what your actual stance is regarding "Modern Art?" Are you poo pooing all modern art? Wassily Kandinsky? Richard Serra? Alexander Calder? Do you really mean "Modern Art?"

    I find the the thinly veiled cynicism to betray your distaste for the success of those who have found reward in producing a certain type of work. I just think that it's not "Modern Art" that's the issue.

    I think you have hit on the nucleus of what really might be a problem with the state of "Art" and you have summed it up with the word "Precision." I really think that what you might be talking about is less "Modern Art" and more "Solecistic Art." I see a lot of work and wonder what's going on. It's like there is this absolute lack of ability but this desire to produce. I think that the crux of the issue is what is the artist really trying to accomplish? How can someone crush chain link fencing into a ball, gold plate it and then sell it for twenty grand? That's just economics not art. But even that isn't the same as not having the skill to produce something with integrity. That brings us back to precision.

    I'd be really surprised if it's "Modern Art" that's irritating you and I'd think you'd be hard pressed to argue that Jackson Pollack lacked real "Passion."

  2. I can sense in your comment that you are trying to find a way by which my rejection of modern art could remain acceptable to the "right-thinking" people.That,perhaps I am only against excesses,obvious hoaxes, fraudulent tricksters but certainly not against the true giants,like Kandinsky,Pollock or Serra.Regrettably,unlike you I think that the squiggles of Kandinsky are laughable infantilism,Pollack's "passionate" spatters are trash and Serra is junk,not art at all. No apology for the strength of these opinions because I share my reaction with billions of people who know I am right.There is in fact only a small group of enthusiasts who honestly and fervently keep seeing passion in spatters,spirituality in Rothko and art in Kandinsky.Now-I am writing it to clarify my stance and not to try to change your opinions regarding modern art. I could not draw any satisfaction from changing anybody's mind on these matters.Some people in Ohio I believe, saw the face of Madonna in the patterns of tomato&mozzarella on pizza.How could one counter so much delusion? I could say I saw not Saint Mary in that pizza but Stalin with his mustache but that would not sway them.They need to see Madonna and when pizza arrived the two expectations twinned around each other-something both immaculate and chewable.I am not "hard pressed" admitting that whatever hysterical passions Pollock felt the pathetic spatters are not art.

  3. Henryk,

    No attempt to find your rejection acceptable, just possibly understandable.

  4. In the course of the Blog I will try,knot by knot to analyse the Problem.I am preparing some texts that should in a systematic way compare a work of art with a piece of modern art.Then,of course there is work of others who had done it before me and contemporarily and I shall present their insights.

  5. I agree with your stance on Pollack...crazy drunk maniac, but a good technique if you want to make your own gift wrapping. Rothko I always felt was pretentious art world silliness...reminding me of the story of the Emperor's New Clothes.

  6. Yes,Suzy.However the Emperor Rothko had plenty of new clothes.One year before he killed himself he signed a contract for ONE Million Dollars to paint some more of those stupid squares.It was the largest sum of money paid to an artist and,by Jove-to the most deserving one too.Conclusion: painting for the art market corrupts as surely as selling derivatives or defaulting home mortgages.