Art, and the Essential

Kinda thinking that lately , I haven’t been all that enthused about painting (Yet more thoughts about painting when it’s hard to paint), at least, leaving a tangible, physical canvas, drawing, etc; maybe the whole idea of creating a physical object, was to own it or trade it or sell it – and in a way, that doesn’t seem to make that much sense any longer – in an age where most things that are successful, on the internet, have been free.

What was that old saying, the best things in life are free, perhaps the idea of creating something in virtual space is more “real”, in a way, than creating it physical space.

For example, I find it more interesting to experiment with painting on my iPhone, using Colors or Doodle2, where a lot of interesting transparencies and subtle colors can be created, on the fly, and immediately transposed onto the internet.

I “painted” a Night Scene, tonight, really enjoyed … sure I haven’t mastered this medium, but if art is really about creating something for oneself but sharing it with the world, and you take money out of the equation – it seems to me, painting for The Web, seems the right way to go, at least, for me – and, not just me – read An update on where Art is going where Hugh MacLeod is saying, more or  less, the same thing – see his desertmanhattan update,  which Valeria Maltoni, brought to my attention recently.

But, going past that, and thinking about the economic downturn and the end of the Web 2.0 boom, which appears to be happening now (see End of an Era and … The Man Who Won as Others Lost – Plus Social Media doing Good in the Recession?), in terms of painting, perhaps getting rid of excess is a good thing – because it some ways, the best things are ruined where there’s too much of something.  And … that got me to think about a Friday Visit to the Metropolitan Museum, where I went yesterday evening.  I saw one of my favorite paintings (and this photo I took with my iPhone) of Jules Bastien Lepage’s Joan of Arc.

This painting might be my favorite painting at the Met, but one thing keeps irking me -

“…. It’s the figure of Joan of Arc and the Three Angels….they’re totally unnecessary.

How often (and with all the Mess on Wall Street going on just now) does life get cluttered up with debris. No, Joan of Arc is sacred, but she does not need to be in this painting…too bad the Artist put her in.

And there’s a story here, everything could have been said, and better,without her in this painting.

Just a thought about what we think as being neccessary, and what isn’t.”

If you think about it (and I do think about it) there’s been an awful amount of Web 2.0 companies that had no revenue model, that really, did not make much sense, but they got funded anyway, by venture capital firms and angel investors – well, that’s largely over due to the economic downturn.

But getting back to the really, almost perfect, painting of Joan of Arc, a painting that, technically, is better than Manet‘s  Le déjeuner sur l’herbe, I believe that the Lunch on a Grass painting by Manet is superior, because it focuses on essentials, where as Jules Bastien Lepage’s Joan of Arc did not need Joan of Arc – the extra stuff he threw in on the upper left is “noise” to a modern eye.

The Luncheon on the Grass
(French: Le déjeuner sur l’herbe)
Édouard Manet, 18621863
Oil on canvas
208 × 265.5 cm, 81.9 × 104.5 in
Musée d’Orsay, Paris

But the Manet Painting harkens back to an even more essential vision of Giorgione‘s Concert champêtre

Giorgione «Concert champêtre» | Ländliches Konzert

Giorgione, Concert champêtre Ländliches Konzert | © Giorgione

So, in my mind, a lot of Web 2.0 was caused by an excess of money, artifically created by allowing high amounts of financial leverage on what was almost a “non-existant” asset –  ie: the sub-prime assets that were way over valued and over leveraged – and that’s caused the financial meltdown.

But in a way, that extra money that was floating around in the World Economy, is what fueled a lot of excess, and if we cut that away, and focus on fundamentals, what survives, will be much better, I believe, than what we have now.

And if you don’t believe me, compare Jules Bastien Lepage’s Joan of Arc, Manet‘s  Le déjeuner sur l’herbe and Giorgione‘s Concert champêtre

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One thought on “Art, and the Essential”

  1. I really disagree about Jules Bastien Lepage’s Joan of Arc having “noise” in the background. I think to the perceptive modern eye, it creates a disorder which is indicative of Joan’s madness.

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