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Re: Tom Stoppard on crafting art

>Rothko a skilled artist?????  I've seen examples of his work and cannot
>believe that anyone would consider him an artist, much less a skilled one.

Lisa: I'll try to respond to your two posts personally rather than spouting
the appropriate art criticism -- and there is much of it to support Rothko &
Pollock & many others.

But for me, Rothko & Pollock in particular are two artists whose paintings,
at different viewings in different museums, have made me stop speechless and
nearly breathless, somewhat in awe of their power. It's a visceral power,
but to me, it is also because of their sheer beauty. What is beauty is at
least as difficult a question as what is good art, I know. In Pollock's case
I think the bravado of the work does carry it a long way, but more than
that, there is a kind of form articulated through its supposed randomness
(maybe I need a chaos theorist here) which in many paintings, leads the eye
constantly around to discover wonders, so that, in all good paintings, there
is a tension between the detail and the whole, both of which can command
attention. It's interesting, in that so many critics have thought Pollock's
work too easy, that to my mind noone has ever successfully imitated the work.

In Rothko's case I also knew the work from magazines and books before seeing
the actual paintings. When I did see them, in the mid-1970's in London, they
just blew me away. Here I think there is tons of skill. It's a skill at
developing a surface, and what lies under it, and what goes around colors,
to make his best paintings simply glow with a light which to me connotes
spiritual substance, while the work is clearly before one -- undeniable
matter. The massiveness of those forms -- yet the work seems so light, as
though anything could make that effect of light disappear in an instant--
but it doesn't disappear, it continues.

Both of these painters explore territory no one had, or at least not in the
same way (I do think Rothko has forebears that go back at least as far as
the Renaissance painters in their use of light & color; I think a case can
be made for Pollock's work having connections with the earliest of man's
art-making/mark-making efforts).

I'm willing to go so far as to say that my education helped me appreciate
these works, although their effect on me was not something I could ever have
predicted from what I know "about" the works. I'm also certainly someone who
seems to be always looking for work which leads me places I've never been
before. But the works are there and won't go away, and my responses to them,
intellectual, creative, physical, emotional, etc. -- are still there as well.

charles alexander

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