Friday, March 1, 2013

Reading about Art

Hours 8pm

I love reading about art of all kinds.  I just finished Sarah  Thornton’s book Seven Days in the Art World – while a lot of what she writes is really about the business side of the art world (especially, I think, the studio practices of Takashi Murakami the extremely popular fantasy comic/ manga inspired Japanese artist of the superflat) much of the book is quite fascinating.  Art critics and art historians and art editors and art consultants and art handlers, and art collectors and art auctioneers etc etc  - the artists themselves seem to hover uncomfortably on the fringes shabbily dressed and gnawing at their nails!

definitely shabby, but not exactly gnawing!


So very different from the quilt world where large groups of fiber artists gather to enjoy and admire each others’ work.   The art world as a whole is a fascinating glimpse and insight into all kinds of people, different mediums and cultures and practices– but all engrossed in creativity and in the wonderful (and often strange!) things that creativity brings about. 

Being involved in art world makes daily experience so much richer – I think it’s so sad that children (including, alas, my own grandchildren – hold that charger!) these days are diverted to electronic games so early and away from paints and clay and collage and cloth.  Once they’re hooked onto the instant response of the electronic joystick, they become bored by something slower like stitching or drawing or paint on paper.  Their brains seem to demand faster rewards, if it doesn’t work in a second or two then frustration mounts.  Then, as adults, they become the people who give up extremely quickly.  They have such a mistaken idea that talent is instantaneous, if you can just press the right button you’ll be able to do whatever it is – sing like an opera diva, dance like a B boy, paint like Cezanne, play an instrument.  The Beatles were an instant phenomenon?  No way!  They worked harder and practiced more than any other group of their time – to an amazing degree.
Looking for talent!
I just read Renee Fleming’s autobiography The Inner Voice: the Making of a Singer; she wrote about the incredible amount of training and technical knowledge of the body that is necessary to produce and hold the right note whilst singing – years and years of training in order to develop the ability to put the breath where it’s needed. It’s so much more complicated than ever you would think.  And the same is true of any branch of art – which is why it is so compelling, you can never get to the end of discoveries about the medium and about yourself.  As human beings, we NEED art!  I don’t think you can develop fully as a person without it.  It doesn’t have to be paint or cloth, it could be in gardening, or boat building or baking! 
Or even, in making a good cup of tea….so I’m on my way!  If you have been, thanks for reading!!  Elizabeth


Chris said...

Nice blog today. I agree about the need to do art. One of my favorite quotes comes from Picasso. He says, "Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life." Boy do we need that!

I was thrilled that my daughter wants a sewing machine for her birthday. I never thought I'd ever see her sew anything! She wants to make pillows and other things for her apartment. Certainly not quilts at this point, but who knows...maybe someday!

Leigh said...

Good thoughts! I am frustrated sometimes by the insistence on instant gratification. Most of what I produce is quite mundane, yet people are amazed and say they could NEVER do that. Well, in fact they could, if they just sat still away from the tv and didn't expect a masterpiece in the first two minutes. Some of what I produce is quite wonderful, but few can tell as they've no context of how anything is made, what work is involved in producing it or even what "good" looks like.

Have you read Outliers by Malcom Gladwell? It's an excellent book on what it takes to do anything well, and why there is no such thing as innate talent. I highly recommend it. Your Beatles analogy made me think of it immediately.