Friday, February 18, 2011


I am about to contribute three paintings to a show entitled “Story-tellers” and the organizers requested from each participant a couple of paragraphs containing thoughts on story-telling. My opinions are here:
There seems to be two sources for content in an artwork; extraneous ones, like a literary source or an interior “story” that fulfils itself within the confines of the art-work without pointing outward for its origin or its elucidation.
Before art became truly itself there was decorated craft and by augmenting decoration with story-telling it has become art. That happy mélange lasted to great success until Impressionism. There is still some vestigial content in Impressionism but it is purposefully chosen to be minimal, un-assuming and banal for the sake of underscoring the decorative values of the paintings

               Fragment of Paul Cezanne’s painting ;already cleared of the "story-telling"abomination.Even though there is no "story" there is a message there.Painter seems to be telling the viewer:I looked from the window of my brother's house at these trees but the truth of their morphology meant little to me.I used their general direction and flat siluettes  to serve as heavy-handed props in my composition the way the Lords use their servants while avoiding to look at them.

Fragment of a Gerrit Dou painting [for a larger view click the link]        

 From the triumphal reign of Impressionism the entire officialdom of art frowned at content viewed as anachronism burdening art with non-artistic content. The painting was supposed to be about painting, not about something else. The only content ever accepted afterwards was the kind of content that was a joke about content. Of course truly serious, great artists were not asking art critics for permission to paint coherent, thoughtful, humanistic content. While museums were being filled to the rafters with hasty products of Albers, Rothko, Rauschenberg, Lichtenstein and Klein -the real great artists worked ignored by the foam-machines of fame and praise. Their sin was the “story-telling”.
There is obviously something intentionally belittling in calling poetical, descriptive content of passionate inquiries into visible world “story-telling”, as if they were woven by infantile minds to put children to sleep. I wonder how enthusiastic would modernists be if we called for participation in a show of they work “Optical Trash”

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