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Re: Focus, Need, and expression
- To: BOOK_ARTS-L@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU
- Subject: Re: Focus, Need, and expression
- From: John & Carol Pratt <email@example.com>
- Date: Tue, 5 Sep 2000 14:24:48 +0900
- Message-Id: <200009052119.OAA12200@palimpsest.Stanford.EDU>
- Sender: "Book_Arts-L: READ THE FAQ at http://www.philobiblon.com" <BOOK_ARTS-L@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU>
Mr. Brady and I are talking in parallel tracks, I think. However, Aeshetics
isn't a topic I get very excited about. Looking at art and responding to it IS
something I like to do. I'm not sure I can express why a particular painting or
a particular binding or a particular piece of pottery elicits a gut-level sense
of awe, but it happens.
Michael Brady wrote:
> Carol wrote:
> > ... That something
> > is a NEED to express from within.
> I disagree about the need to EXPRESS from WITHIN, if I may shift the emphasis
> a bit. I disagree for several reasons.
> 1. Anything one does ultimately is an expression of one's choices, one's
> commitments, one's likes and dislikes.
> 2. People choose to do what they like (or think they need to do) and what
> holds their attention. Some folks like and are deeply sustained by accounting,
> some by writing computer programming code, some by farming, some by cooking in
> a restaurant, some by being the mid-level administrative coordination in a
> business. To the extent that these occupations feed and fulfill their
> practitioners, we can say that algebra or horticulture or vacuuming
> "expresses" the person. Carol implies this in the next part of her message.
Sure, but we're talking about expression here, not science and not the practice
of some daily effort such as cooking (though most of us would agree that there
are some who are just cooks there are others (a few, perhaps, who can really
cook). And I would not include vacuuming or computer programming in this topic.
There may be a lot of what we facetiously call "zen" in vacuuming, it isn't
> > ... Serious writers, poets, painters,
> > sculptors, weavers, potters, jewelers, or any other all share this
> > particular characteristic, nurtured by actually doing the work as well as
> > possible in whatever way is open to them. By doing and doing and doing.
> > Some never rise above artisanry, while others succeed in achieving some
> > work with a quality beyond "artisanship".
> But essentially, I believe that talking about self-expression suffers from a
> bit of grandiosity and special pleading. Our modern (American, and I suppose
> western) culture exalts the freedom and self-rewarding work of the artist. We
> call a lot of things creative and expressive that really aren't so, mostly in
> order to add a little luster to our non-artistic endeavors.
> I believe we leap over the true explanation of artistic work--that people who
> do it do so because they like the kind of work it is--and embrace the
> secondary quality--expressiveness--as the rationale for art work.
----I guess you lose me here with respect to Modern American and European
artwork. I see much the same kind artistic expression in work from Asia and the
Middle East as I see in western art. Yes, artists may "like the kind of work it
is", but if that is all there is to it, their work will probably be sterile.
Nor am I willing to concede that expression can be reduced to the study and
application of aesthetic principles, although I do agree that these are
important. Moreover, I don't think that artists do what they do with any sort of
canon in mind, EXCEPT as they use these precepts automatically because they have
learned them somewhere along the line, and they don't think about them
consciously. People doing good (or great) art may go to art school or they may
The mastery of technique is very important, as we have often implied in this
thread. Seeing the images of Richard Minky's indicates a high level of mastery,
and it instills the desire to SEE the books. A digital picture is a poor
translator of what I have been talking about. For that matter--most
reproductions are poor substitutes. I have a catalog of an exhibition of
contemporary applied arts of Japan that I visited in Paris a year ago at the
Mitsukoshi Etoile. The excellent photographs do not reproduce the spirit of the
pieces I remember best--and some were sublime. Similarly, I'd seen lots of
Picasso reproduced as well as a few originals, but visiting the Musee Picasso and
experiencing closehand a lot of his work has made me more aware of the power of
his work. Whether I LIKE his work or not is irrelevant.
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