March 20, 2012

what does a painting mean?

"espresso cup no.1" oil on canvas, 8" x 10" mark horst

I do hope a painting means something. But it’s alright with me if it’s only a little bit of something.

Don’t come to me with the entire truth.
Don’t bring the ocean if I feel thirsty,
nor heaven if I ask for light;
but bring a hint, some dew, a particle,
as bird carry only drops away from water,
and the wind a grain of salt.*

Maybe the green light around the edge of a porcelain cup is all the meaning I need tonight. Maybe the generous curve of an eyebrow is enough.

*from “Trusting Your Life to Water and Eternity: Twenty Poems of Olav H. Hauge” translated by Robert Bly

March 14, 2012

more on Chardin & Cezanne's fruit

I'm reading Rainer Maria Rilke's "Letters on Cezanne," and came across this discussion of the fruit in Chardin and Cezanne:

"[Chardin's] fruits are no longer thinking of a gala dinner, they're scattered about on kitchen tables and don't care whether they are eaten beautifully or not."

Isn't that just great? Because there are certainly fruits out there--in say, this painting by Coenraet Roepel--that are aspiring to being eaten beautifully:

But not Chardin's humble fruit:

Rilke continues:
"In Cezanne they cease to be edible altogether, that's how thing-like and real they become, how simply indestructible in their stubborn thereness."

Yes! I like this much better than Hockney's analysis. It's not that Cezanne's fruit is closer [see blog entry below], but there is something "indestructible" about it--a "stubborn thereness."

March 12, 2012

Rembrandt's hand

Weschler interviews Hockney:

“'And what,' I asked, 'so captivated him in Rembrandt?' 

'The hand!' he replied instantly. 'The evidence of a human hand moving. I could feel his elbow jutting, the way he balanced and rebalanced his pen between his fingers, adjusting and readjusting. Every mark, visible. The boldness and yet the economy of means. The precision and yet the liveliness of gesture of observed and rendered gesture.'

'...The Chinese say that painting draws on three things: the eye, the heart, and the hand. And I longed to return to the hand.'"