Saturday, March 09, 2019

LOOKING AT CLOUDS FROM BOTH SIDES

Before he became an illustrator, Harold Von Schmidt was a cowboy.  

He loved the old west: "I had a chance to be with the Indians, to take part in trail drives and get to know cattle and horses."  He also had long, long days to study the immense clouds hovering over the western landscape.  

Here are two very different ways he looked at those clouds: 

The first view used traditional tools of accurate painting, such as light, color and perspective to capture a likeness.


Illustration for the Saturday Evening Post

The second view forced every element of the landscape into either black or white.  No compromises.

Illustration of a goat herder watching a distant storm in Willa Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop
You can bet when Von Schmidt was riding the range, he never saw clouds with thick black outlines. Here he has created a strange binary world by pushing the contrasts in the landscape to the far end of the spectrum.  Like the hot desert sun, he bleached out the nuances of color and shading.  He annihilated any fine lines that might be used to create the crutch of a half tone.  You'll find no wrinkles or folds shading that goat herder's cloak:




The drawing was done big and bold, with thick lines on a large illustration board nearly 28" wide.  Who draws like that anymore?

Both views of clouds capture their immense scale and majesty. The painting achieves it primarily through a likeness but the drawing achieves it more through abstraction. Welcome to the wonderful world of drawing. 

Abstract art is nothing new; the first abstract art was created when our first human ancestor drew the first line in the dirt with a stick.



100 comments:

James Gurney said...

It's interesting to see such detailed scans of his Willa Cather illustrations. They look like woodcuts, but are clearly brush and ink. Somehow it's reassuring to know he used a lot of white-out.

David Apatoff said...

James Gurney-- One of the most interesting things about these originals is how huge they are. He must've had arms like a gorilla to hold them back far enough to take in the whole image at once. But the size makes them look much more bold and potent in person than they do in the book.

Some of them are completely clean of white-out like a Zen ink drawing, but he did use a lot of white-out, especially to feather soft edges on clouds and rocks.

chris bennett said...

Thanks for this post David. It rather begs the question; 'what is drawing?'

MORAN said...

Awesome art.

Li-An said...

Thanks for the images. Von Schmidt is one of my favorites.

Zubair Ahmad said...

Nice Info

Richard said...


I don't really "get" the black and white one. What's the draw?

James Gurney said...

...which leads to the question.....How huge are they?

David Apatoff said...

James Gurney-- As I noted, this particular drawing is about 28" wide but some are larger. I think what gives these their sense of scale in person is that some of those individual lines are 10 to 12 inches long, so what would be a flick of the wrist for Charles Dana Gibson or Orson Lowell or James Montgomery Flagg becomes a long tightrope walk. And a line that might be 1/32 of an inch from a pen nib is 8 times larger here, like drawing with a club. At that size, it becomes impossible to adjust or correct an errant line with an adjacent line. You need to resort to white paint. You can't hunch over these drawings; they seem to be first cousin to working on a bill board.

Richard-- Well this may be a matter of taste. As Walt Reed wrote in his book on Von Schmidt, the author Willa Cather personally asked Von Schmidt to illustrate her book. "He worked for two years on the project, and the resulting sixty illustrations helped to make the book a classic, now a prize for collectors." It was clearly a labor of love.

It might be useful to contrast Von Schmidt's drawings (which, as James Gurney notes, "look like woodcuts") with Franklin Booth's drawings which look like engravings. Both have chosen an unusual solution using the horizontal lines of another medium; both have a penchant for "epic" subject matters-- glorious billowing clouds, etc.-- but for me, Booth hedges his bets all over the place with countless little fine lines, any 50 of which might be incorrect. Personally, I prefer the backbone we see here in Von Schmidt's drawings. I see the powerful influence of Von Schmidt's teacher, Harvey Dunn, who trained Von Schmidt to focus on the big picture. l like the virility (if it's still acceptable to use such a term) of his choices, his clean, unsparing treatment of the desert landscape, his extreme simplification of forms such as that goat herder or the scrub brush or the goats.

His style may be less fashionable these days, when fine crow quill cross hatching and wispy pencil lines read so well on high rez computer screens but the bolder style is, in my opinion really hard to do. A good comparison might be the talented political cartoonist David Low, who started out working with fine pen lines but whose mature style involved fewer lines drawn with a bold brush. He talked about how the simpler style took him longer: "making a cartoon occupied usually about three days: two spent in labour and one in removing the appearance of labour."

David Apatoff said...

Chris Bennett wrote, "It rather begs the question; 'what is drawing?'"

That's a question that bedevils people far smarter than I. Drawing is both a noun and a verb; back when the tools for drawing were more limited and the purpose of drawing was more defined, it might have been easier for me to suggest an answer to your question. But over the last century our notion of drawing has opened up in both form and content. Today drawing is not just expressive mark making or visual perceptions of the world, it became the core of the conceptual art movement; it is a form of non-representational writing used to state concepts and ideas; it is a tool for philosophical exploration (As Sol Le Witt observed, "A drawing of a person is not a real person but a drawing of a line is a real line." )

Is it unhealthy for drawing to expand this way? Well, I agree with Katherine Stout who suggested that drawing has historically strengthened the gene pool of fine art by contaminating it with all kinds of "street" influences. Where would fine art be today if 19th century academy painting had not been corrupted by graphic arts, advertising, comics, graffiti, etc? These forms of drawing introduced directness, spontaneity, simplicity, raw expressiveness, economy and other virtues which have conquered fine art the way rock n' roll has conquered music. Since I celebrate subversive elements such as advertising art and comics on this blog, it would be unseemly for me to turn up my nose at other pollutions such as conceptual art and say, "That's going too far."

In the case of the Von Schmidt pictures, one could argue that, since he worked with a brush and poster paint (as well as a stick), this is not strictly a drawing. But clearly one can draw with a brush (just ask Lautrec). I consider the Von Schmidt pictures drawings because of his act of creating them with hand and eye; the wrist movement is linework, the eye abbreviates in high contrast, the aesthetic seems to me to be the aesthetic of drawing. But my feelings wouldn't be hurt if you wanted to call it something else. My point here is simply that it's a different way of looking at clouds.

MORAN and Zubair Ahmad-- Thanks

Li-Ann-- I'm glad to hear that. I think Von Schmidt is under valued today, and is overdue for rediscovery. He has not been promoted the way that Cornwell, Flagg, Remington and other favorites have been promoted, but he has done work of great quality. You have a discerning eye!

Tom said...

I have to ask why the painting is comprised? It’s the early afternoon, it’s hot, it’s empty, it’s the endlessness of space without any stimulus. He’s conveying a mood and a certain type of day the oppressiveness of heat. The low level horizon which runs the length of the picture is a perfect expression of boredom, of the endless lack of change the rider is experiencing. While the second picture is the effect of a storm which is all the drama of wind and clouds and violent contrasts. The subjects themselves are dictating the handling of the materials. One of boredom and no change except for the rising of heat lifting and creating the clouds. The drawing reflecting the entirely opposite experience of the movement, suddenness and activity of a storm.

Using more then two values in an artwork doesn’t mean the artist is comprised. In fact he is using the same drawing devices of line, edges, value, scale and perspective in both works. His sound understanding of drawing underlies both products and the same abstraction exsit in both subjects. His sense of stability is quite refreshing with his solidly conceived ground plane. What does it matter what tool you are using to draw with? It is how you conceive what will be drawn that guides the tool. Painting is as much drawing as drawing with a pencil is.

Von Schmidt is a great subject for a post (maybe a book David?) although I never got to excited by the oil painting either.

chris bennett said...

David,

Thank you for your considered reply to my question. From what I can understand of your position on this I think we agree that the act of drawing is not defined by the tool it is performed with. So a useful definition would have to apply to such things as the act of arranging pixels or pieces of collage or earthworks as well as red chalk on paper to resemble naked people or oil paint shaped to look like the end of Rembrandt's nose.

For me as a painter it is the act of relating one mark to another and another and another so as to make me aware of the form as strongly as possible. A description of this activity would be something like: a plastic organisation in order to induce a sensation. In other words: drawing is the 'sense' of form.

I believe such a definition would cover both the two examples you gave in your post as well as the act of bulldozing rocks around into an earth monument. Stonehenge would therefore be seen as fundamentally arising out of drawing, as would a Ferrari, as would a Batman comic, as would a Titian, as would a Coke can. As would, in fact, every human-fashioned artefact there ever was.

kev ferrara said...

I adore Von Schmidt's big ink pieces. I think what is so unique about them is just how bold they are, yet still realistic. The bluntness is actually deceptive, because there is so much information in the edgework, in the blocking, the massing, lighting, and the composing.

Von Schmidt conscientiousness, his ethic of always going back to nature to learn more, of taking sketching trips, and getting good reference, and imagining his work deeply... is what allowed for this kind of work to be successful. This isn't just a blunt graphic grunt; this work isn't done on a wing and prayer. The refinement of keen observation is all over it. He's proving some kind of point with them, I think, which goes to something Harvey Dunn taught him; that (paraphrasing)"You can paint a thing as loosely as you please, so long as you know exactly what it is you are painting; so long as you know its exact character and nature." The other relevant Dunn line, also paraphrased, is "Get all the detail you want in the edge of the mass. The character, weight, and movement can all be expressed via the edge."

And what this M.O. does is rid the work of fine detail, leaving the areas and their boundaries to tell the tale, with the odd descriptive stripe to give variety against the mass. This idea of realism-without-rendering has launched a lot of great realistic-yet-unrendered ink work subsequently, including much by Alex Toth and Jeff Jones' Idyll.

Franklin Booth is of course equally wonderful in the way he does things. And anybody who thinks there's "too many lines" in Booth's work is a salamander-licking cro magnon who wears pelts on his head.

David Apatoff said...

Tom-- When I said the painting contains compromises I only meant that it had several layers of gradation on the scale between black and white. If something wasn't quite black, Von Schmidt could use several shades of gray. This "compromise" was a more accurate way to describe the scene. The drawing was an unreasonable manichaean process that forced Von Schmidt into black or white. There was no compromise between them.

Chris Bennett-- I like your notion of "drawing" and recognize the elements of drawing in each of the activities you describe, but I'm not sure then how you then articulate a boundary between drawing and painting.

Kev Ferrara-- I think Franklin Booth has made some excellent pictures, and he had a nice flair for grandeur and glory but personally I'd put him a in a lower tier. I have two reasons for that.

First, for me economy is usually an important virtue in drawing. Artists who seek to impress with over-worked, heavily detailed pictures in my experience usually fall short of the highest heights. (Think of Murray Tinkelman's rapidograph drawings or Roy Krenkel's exhausting fantasy landscapes.) There is a very small group of artists who could overwork a drawing and still pull it off because of their other redeeming strengths-- I'm thinking of artists such as Norman Lindsay, Berni Wrightson in his prime, Chris Van Allsburg when he was still drawing thousands of individual blades of grass, Robert Fawcett in the 1950s, Frazetta in his Canaveral Press period, and yes, Booth. But even those guys, with all their talent, sometimes didn't recognize when to stop and veered off into the "too many lines" ditch.

I think Booth was more susceptible to this hazard than many of the other artists on my list. That may be because, when you stripped away all those lines his unadorned drawing skills weren't as impressive. (The same could be said of Wrightson, whose later, simpler drawings looked denuded.) However, I suspect my feelings about Booth also relate to my second factor:

For me, a sensitive line is another important virtue in drawing-- I value variety in width, in character, in energy of application. I appreciate the alertness of the line's observations and the information it conveys. That's why I often jabber here about artists such as Noel Sickles or Austin Briggs. Booth's simulated engraving line is, for me, more of a monotone. In a substantial percentage of his work, his lines seem to be made on automatic pilot-- straight, even lines to create a half-tone. In comparison to an artist such as JC Coll, Booth's lines seem cold. Of course, Coll was not exactly economical with his lines either but there was a lot of violence and inspiration and judgment in them. Rembrandt's Hundred Guilder print used a lot of lines but his cross hatching (or wherever you want to call what he did) created rich, velvety tones that shimmered. To me, Booth's lines were sometimes consistent to the point of appearing mechanical.

Don't get me wrong, I think Booth was an important and talented illustrator with a distinctive style but I would not put him in the same league with Von Schmidt or some of the others I mentioned above.

Li-An said...

@Apatoff : very good analyse of Booth’s coldness.

chris bennett said...

David:

I do not consider there to be a boundary between drawing and painting. As I said, the distinction in this case is merely to do with the tool involved, not the cognitive function of each activity which, as an artist, I experience as, and know to be, exactly the same. One might as well say that when using the end of a conte crayon we are drawing and when using its side we are painting.

'Painting' is therefore to be considered as drawing with colour rather than drawing with monochrome. And this is true because the more artfully a picture is drawn the more its colours will resonate. Which is also why poorly drawn monochrome pictures, using, for example, pencil or charcoal, have a 'dirty' appearance. (And why the ink drawing/painting you posted looks so immaculately fresh.)


kev ferrara said...

I would put Franklin Booth alongside Von Schmidt, and Coll. I think Franklin Booth's work is beautiful, unique, and magnificent. And I find his technique fascinating and lovely, a unique means to an end. The idea that he was just aping an old reproduction process with his lines is ignorant, he blew past that around 1900. I think of his strokes in groups, as his brushstrokes. They actually do a lot of heavy lifting, expressively, just as with good painters.

Photo-hugging artists with faux-expressive crayon tracing techniques aren't even in Booth's league; they impress with "loose" photo-based drawing more than they express with their nonlinear (artful) composing.

This is not to say one shouldn't use photoreference, of course. More that both artist and viewer should not be fooled by shallow, linear-intellectual attempts to make a photo (or photo composites) into art by sensitive-cum-crude outlining. The perils of photo-aesthetics, if not acted against at depth, make everything go dead; "mere representation" becomes the inescapable undertow. Surface crayon tricks won't remedy that.

Although some people just can't get past the "expressive" accurate drawing sitting there for inspection. The expressivity in such work is akin to the "emotions" of soul singers belting out automobile jingles. May as well be singing from the phone book for all the connection between form and content.

Reminds of that Dunn quote when asked to view a selection of canvases by an acquaintance in the business, "I can see that these are excellent, but I feel that they are terrible."



Tom said...

I think I understand your point now, David. But the post did not quite read that way.

You wrote, "The first view used traditional tools of accurate painting, such as light, color and perspective to capture a likeness. The second view forced every element of the landscape into either black or white. No compromises." Then conclude that "The painting achieves it primarily through a likeness but the drawing achieves it more through abstraction."

The drawing certainly looks like the southwest. Are you saying by using more then two values and artist is being less abstract? All artist are forced to reduce the range of nature's value schemes to the much more narrower range of their palettes. VonSchmidt in his ink drawing could have easily added more detail into his drawing, i.e. carried it further by additional values having first set up the primary relationship of separating his dark pattern from his light pattern in the picture. Instead he choose to restrict his range to two notes at the extreme ends of his value range. Once an artist decides on the number of values he will use in his picture detail can be eliminated or be described. But the choice of that range will dictate the modeling of form. Which of course depends on the artist's decorative intention, the hyper realist is also forced to reduced his value scheme to a few manageable tones if he wants success. Even in VonSchmidt's "manichaean process," he does use a half tone to reduce contrast between forms and to heightened contrast where he wants to focus attention. He uses line to create a "shade," between the dark tone side of his objects and their light tone side. One only has to look at the gradation he puts into the sky, on the right hand side of the picture. Clearly the sky is darker on that side then it is on the left side giving the proper emphasis to the falling rain. The value of the gradation is also clearly lighter then the shadow side of the clouds in front of the sky and darker then the light side of the clouds. The use of three's almost always created a more harmonious feeling then the use of two's which simply creates division and opposition. What is truly amazing is how how much of the appearance of a scene can be conveyed with such small amount of means.

It fits nicely with Kev's paraphrase quote of Harvery Dunn, ""Get all the detail you want in the edge of the mass. The character, weight, and movement can all be expressed via the edge." Of course one has to remember that an edge is just the tip of the iceberg. The whole mass still needs to be conceived and oriented even if the artist only wishes to give emphasis to it's edge.

Kev wrote,
" I think of his strokes in groups, as his brushstrokes." That's good, I like that. Those 'brushstrokes," also create the values of his pictures (which he groups into a few pleasing distinct and proportional groups) while describing the oppositions and quality of nature's forces via the direction of his strokes. I like the VonScmidt 's drawings a lot but if I had to have something on my wall I think Booth's work would hold my attention a lot longer because it's rich in a way, that a simple black shape can't be, it's more airy more full of space, his work welcomes inspection while a form that is solidly inked blacked is flatten into silhouetted that just keeps forcing the eye to the edge of things and becomes limited in interest. Although in VonSchmidt's drawing as I wrote earlier he uses many devices to reduce that deading effect. His drawing is a lesson in the importance of simplification and choice.

Tom said...

David wrote
"..but I'm not sure then how you then articulate a boundary between drawing and painting."

I think Manet always claimed there was no "line" around the objects of nature and the impressionist seem to claim that drawing is values, which really only means that the visual distinction between things is determine by changes in value. Line does seem like the ultimate abstraction. So maybe geometry may offer a more insight to what drawing is, as it is not afraid to define the abstract elements that create forms in space.

kev ferrara said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Apatoff said...

Kev Ferrara-- I didn't know Booth personally so I can only offer hearsay, but the story of Booth learning to draw by painstakingly imitating published engravings is stated with great certainty by Walt Reed, Arpi Ermoyan, Thomas Rugh, and every other credible biographer I know. I promise I didn't make it up.

I'm not sure how Booth could've "blown past" his engraving style in 1900 if his very first job was in 1899; virtually every drawing the public has seen by him was done after 1900, including those rather stiff drawings he did for Everybody's magazine in 1908, his ads for Proctor & Gamble in 1913 or his ads in the Literary Digest in 1916.

Please remember, I don't disagree with you that Booth did some excellent work. His drawings of the tiger hunt or the men in the bar were absolutely terrific. I just think that for a not insignificant part of the time, his engraving style was a handicap: It was an unnecessarily labor intensive way to articulate form and create half tone, and it gave some of his drawings a stiffness which was inescapable in wood engravings, but was unnecessary in hand drawings. (I find it interesting that Gustave Dore's engravers managed to reproduce his drawings with a flexibility and fluidity that often eluded Booth in his pen and ink drawings). But I emphasize that in the pictures where Booth's style worked for him, it added something very special.

I also agree with you that " Photo-hugging artists with faux-expressive crayon tracing techniques" are lesser artists. I don't put Sickles or Briggs (or Fuchs) in that category but the category does subsume hundreds of wannabe Briggs or Fuchs who copied that style. I'll bet that if we looked at a stack of artists working in that style (Ken Riley? Andy Virgil? Sawers? Handville?) we could quickly agree on who fell above the line and who fell below. The copiers who really fell short are blissfully anonymous today.

Chris Bennett-- I'm with you most of the way, but it's pretty bold to say, "I do not consider there to be a boundary between drawing and painting. " "Drawing" and "painting" are two different words; shouldn't we explore whether the reason we have two separate words has any impact on the cognitive functions you describe? To take an extreme example of painting with as few lines or contrasts as possible, what about Ad Reinhart's solid black paintings, or color field painting by artists such as Hedwig katzenberger where color, not form, is the point of the painting? Or what about Dubuffet's "texturologie" paintings of the 1950s which are entirely made up of speckles with no hint of human gesture by an artist, and no trace of a conscious form (almost like a painting of asphalt or dirt)?

kev ferrara said...

Regarding Booth: Sorry, that was a typo. I meant 1910, not 1900.

Yes Booth started out trying to mimic engraving, and then became a painter in ink-line using what he had learned. You cannot find an engraving that looks like what Booth was doing in 1920. He had evolved.

I like Sickles' work very much. His late crayon journalism is less interesting. I think Briggs is overrated.

chris bennett said...

David,

Another way of defining the act of drawing would be to say that it is the delineation of where something happens - thus a sequence of delineations of where things are happening is the graphic which explains the form (be it paint or pencil).

So to take your extreme example of a solid colour field painting; the drawing involved in such a piece will delineate where the gallery wall stops and the flat field of colour begins and ends. The most basic form of drawing imaginable, but drawing, I'm sure you will agree, it is.

Richard said...

I like Von Schmidt's pen and ink work, all-in-all. E.g. what you posted from Death Comes For The Archbishop in April 20 2007.

In this case, I'm asking more about this specific drawing, which I don't get much from.

It seems inferior to his more naive and cartoonish drawings in visual interest, and to his painting in depth of emotion. The scene does not effect me successfully in either case. It reads to me like a fairly robotic experiment in style, rather than a masterful decision to approach this specific atmosphere and subject in this specific style. It's atmospherically "flat" on a subject which should be all about depth and the quality of the air.

Comparing Von Schmidt and Booth's respective drawings, I'd take Booth's absolute control over the medium to Von Schmidt's linear swagger.

So much of the emotion in landscape drawing comes down to painstaking effect, and I'm not sure from the work I've seen that Von Schmidt actually had that level of mastery in ink drawing generally, or landscape ink drawing specifically. Successful landscape effects take a very different level of attention then it appears Von Schmidt was willing to pay this drawing. Done successfully, landscape ink drawing takes an amount of soft rendering which is nigh impossible to achieve in a tool that's so suited to line. Booth has it. I'm not sure Von Schmidt does.

Richard said...

"The idea that he was just aping an old reproduction process with his lines is ignorant, he blew past that around 1900."

I'd go farther. Even if Booth hadn't, the subtext that 19th century engravers were lesser artists than the crayon wielding golden agers is aesthetically numb.

That's thinking Jazz superior to the baroque. It suggests a filter that's too focused on present establishment tastes.

More likely the opposite is true. Endless unknown 19th century engravers would embarrass even the best that the golden age of illustration has to offer in a draw off if you correct for style and fashion.

kev ferrara said...

I'd go farther. Even if Booth hadn't, the subtext that 19th century engravers were lesser artists than the crayon wielding golden agers is aesthetically numb.

You aren't taking my point "farther." That wasn't at all what I was saying, or where I was going, and I don't think you know what you are talking about.

Richard said...

Booth's drawings are better than Von Schmidt's not in-spite of his grounding in the history of engraving, but because of it.

Von Schmidt's Post-Impressionist drawing is fine. I like the Japanese and think cartooning is a great thing to do with a pen. Von Schmidt is still a genius in his own right, but we should be honest about where his kind of drawing stacks up against classical drawing.

Reducing the details to the edge is not masterful, it's deterioration. Doing so reduces the possible contents of your art to mere form, but leaves out the heart of great art: light and atmosphere. You can get a Hokusai that way, but you won't get a Durer.

I'm just glad that Von Schmidt didn't chase the same degenerative fashions in his painting that he did in his drawing, we would have had one less master, and one more Post-Impressionist/Cartoonist/Well-skilled Doodler.


On a side note --
Further vs. Farther, father bother, is pedantic formalism. There is no basis for the distinction etymologically.

Richard said...

> You aren't taking my point "farther."

To clarify, your point isn't what I was extending, but your defense of Booth.

kev ferrara said...

Reducing the details to the edge is not masterful, it's deterioration. Doing so reduces the possible contents of your art to mere form, but leaves out the heart of great art: light and atmosphere. You can get a Hokusai that way, but you won't get a Durer.

Thanks. From now on, if I want to hear aesthetic nonsense from a pseudoscholastic dabbling fanboy, I know who to ask.

"Often wrong, never in doubt" as the saying goes.

I wasn't criticizing your usage of "farther." Could care less about usage, as long as meaning is clear.

Von Schmidt's pseudo-crude woodcuts would have been called "decorations" rather than illustration back around 1900. He did all sorts of beautiful ink work, in various styles. But the medium wasn't his main métier. He treated his ink work as one would treat a vignette.

Richard said...

"Often wrong, never in doubt"

I believe we both suffer from that particular affliction.

In this case, you seem unwilling to consider that perhaps this fanboy is correct that you've applied a theory of rigorous craftsmanship to painting that you are hesitant to apply to drafting -- could it be that a number of artists that you like wouldn't make the cut if you applied those same standards across media?

Tom said...

David wrote
‘’‘Photo-hugging artists with faux-expressive crayon tracing techniques" are lesser artists. I don't put Sickles or Briggs (or Fuchs) in that category but the category does subsume hundreds of wannabe Briggs or Fuchs who copied that style. I'll bet that if we looked at a stack of artists working in that style (Ken Riley? Andy Virgil? Sawers? Handville?) we could quickly agree on who fell above the line and who fell below. The copiers who really fell short are blissfully anonymous today.”

Don’t these illustrator’s work make you think of Robert Rauschenberg‘s work from the 1950’s and early 1960’s?

kev ferrara said...

I believe we both suffer from that particular affliction.

You would.

Apparently you'll believe just about anything that bridges you over a difficult self-revelation. The fact that you simply forget your many hyperactive, dubious and provocative statements almost as soon as you spill them, leaving your flimsy whimsies to stand in the conversation as undefended assertions in order to concentrate on the one hot-take you think you may find traction on, is something you should pay attention to. It tends to make reading or engaging with you a chore. If I've ever done the same, please inform me of it, as I try to only write what I can defend.

In this case, you seem unwilling to consider that perhaps this fanboy is correct that you've applied a theory of rigorous craftsmanship to painting that you are hesitant to apply to drafting -- could it be that a number of artists that you like wouldn't make the cut if you applied those same standards across media?

If you had the capacity or temperament to actually read through this conversation; reading for, in particular, what I actually said rather than what your fantasy-generating mind believes I said, maybe you'd stop having surface level conversations with your own errors and presumptions and in fact engage solely with the principles I offered in the context of their offer. What kind of insufferable idiot goes up to a mechanic talking about piston tolerances and says, "Jeez, don't you understand that the car won't run without gasoline! What a dumb mechanic you are!"

I don't think you have yet fathomed just how complex and multifaceted the problem of producing organized artistic effects is. Like most any deep matter worth pursuing, you find you don't really know anything until you are forced into the realization that you know nothing. It is a long bloody climb out of ignorance.

Anonymous said...

He can't help it anymore than he can help feeling Roger Moore was the best 007 .

Richard said...

Kevin,

"It is a long bloody climb out of ignorance."

Can you hear yourself? What a delicious farce!

“Like most any deep matter worth pursuing, you find you don't really know anything until you are forced into the realization that you know nothing.”

Oh boy. Shakespeare could not have written a more hilariously self-congratulatory idiot.

Sometimes I assume that you must be a very sad person to go around being a pissy little bitch to people on the internet who don't agree with you about your little favourite picture makers, but then I remember how pleasant your all-encompassing personality disorder must be from the inside.

Oh please save us with your memorized aphorisms of Kant! This poor world is just ignorant to Frazettas big gay muscular hunks, woe!

No. Here you are, waiting for godot, playing your language games and splitting hairs, never having to come to terms with your own impotence and the total sterility and irrelevance of your own thought games.

Sometimes I wonder how it is that conservative art theory doesn't capture more hearts and minds, but then all I need to do is come here, and you're off nipping at Estragon's heels like a little hyperlexic retarded Chihuahua.

kev ferrara said...

Richard,

I offered something on this thread I believe was relevant and worthwhile - given that Von Schmidt actually studied with Harvey Dunn long-term and was so close to him that Dunn's wife chose him to give Dunn's eulogy. It is one of the deepest principles of art. Also one of the subtlest. Which is why it takes a great deal of time to see how far its effects go, in order to understand the rationale behind it.

Meanwhile you went after it and dismissed it with your typical hyperactive vandalism; slandering it without the slightest understanding of it and denigrating me along the way.

Your seething follow up rant above, all presumption, bile and projection, is auto-diagnostic. And is its own rebuttal.


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Kev's contributions on this blog are very valuable, Richard.

Richard said...

Yes, Kev contributes heavily to the arguments here. He's a perfectly interesting guy, but he is still a webprick on the scale of Linus Torvalds, and I don't believe Kev invented computing.

His theory of art is also interesting, but is also lacking. Specifically, his is an experience of art too dirtied by hero worship. He mistakes fads, like expressive linework, for the heart of art, but when you correct for those fads, the old simple illusionistic art is better. In many cases, even the new simple illusionistic art is better.

Illusionist art is not better because its lines are even more super rockstar expressive than Jimmie Von Schmidt Hendrix. It's better because it provides more thoughtful content, and it provides a more emotionally convincingillusion of that content.

“Photo-hugging artists with faux-expressive crayon tracing techniques aren't even in Booth's league; they impress with "loose" photo-based drawing more than they express with their nonlinear (artful) composing.”

Translation: ‘Those artists who work in simple illusionist art, the original form of art, who focus on the what not the how, are lesser.’

Lesser than who? Lesser than the rockstars whos posters he has in his man cave? He thinks a damned ugly cartoon is better than a simple photograph of our beautiful world, the things in it, these things around us which are which are holy and designed by the greatest artist of all time!

"Mere representation" he warns. We should be so lucky.

kev ferrara said...

Somebody's having a meltdown.

Anonymous said...

The ink drawing which some might call a cartoon stands on its own merits. It captures the frightening awe and power with its imaginative scale and exaggerations. Its emotional content is being expressed not unlike drawing the figure through its internal anatomical forces, verses using the picture plane or surface dynamics we saw in the drawings in the previous post on Briggs. The two approaches aren’t mutually exclusive and can be integrated, but tend to be taught, learned and favored as different areas of study. Even in these clouds the sharpened angled edges are being used as emotional symbols.

Booth would be another artist whose scale is derived from imaginative liberties, (not defined by photographic limitations).

It happens out west that one finds themselves driving at 90 and 100 mph in a line of ten or twenty cars and pick-ups, some with horses in tow, racing to the safety of lightening rods in the next town where its absent people have taken cover in a high school basement. The storm is big and ugly and foreboding and that’s how Von Schmidt expressed it.

Anonymous said...

<>

I don't think so. I think this is what Kev was talking about, that you assume a lot, assuming what he means wrongly or adding things that you wrongly assume. And then always think you're right about your assumptions and get angry when he says so. Maybe your theory of debate is lacking? ;)

Anonymous said...

^^(quote clipped)^^

"His theory of art is also interesting, but is also lacking. Specifically, his is an experience of art too dirtied by hero worship. He mistakes fads, like expressive linework, for the heart of art, but when you correct for those fads, the old simple illusionistic art is better. In many cases, even the new simple illusionistic art is better."

I don't think so. I think this is what Kev was talking about, that you assume a lot, assuming what he means wrongly or adding things that you wrongly assume. And then always think you're right about your assumptions and get angry when he says so. Maybe your theory of debate is lacking? ;)

Richard said...

"you assume a lot [...] And then always think you're right about your assumptions "


If one did not assume their assumptions were right, then they wouldn't really be making assumptions, would they?

I'm sure you only meant this as a rhetorical device to show support for Kev, but it's worth noting that you're arguing a tautology. You just described the nature of assumptions, and of the way human knowledge works with a priori belief.

Godels incompleteness theorems apply to knowledge itself, not just maths.

When arguing carefully with someone who's axioms you don't agree with, the more effective device is to hash out why you don't agree with those axioms.

Trying to put this hefty railcar back on the track, do you have an additional argument for why illusionistic art is lesser than cartooning, beyond accusing me of not being omnipotent?

Richard said...

Or, to put it more generously, do you have an additional argument for why the human touch, human eye, produces better pictures than merely repeating god's artistry as closely to verbatim as is possible?

Now, we can agree that photographs are easier to take than drawings, but I'm not asking which is a more impressive parlor trick. Do you have an argument for why the purely illusionistic picture itself is lesser?

Anonymous said...

"If one did not assume their assumptions were right, then they wouldn't really be making assumptions, would they?"

No should not think they are right. That is a mistake in thinking. Assumptions are more like blind guesses just to go on, like supposition means "uncertain belief." Presumptions are more probability based, so more "likely." Beliefs can be right or wrong though, just because you believe doesn't mean anything. None of them (assumption, presumption, supposition, unjustified belief) are "human knowledge" like a belief that has been justified by testing over time.

"Godel's incompleteness theorems apply to knowledge itself, not just maths."

This is not true. You should not try to make yourself sound smart about things you don't know about. Proves Kevs point.

"do you have an additional argument for why illusionistic art is lesser than cartooning,"

Who said this? I don't know where you are getting it. Show me the quote!

"do you have an additional argument for why the human touch, human eye, produces better pictures than merely repeating god's artistry as closely to verbatim as is possible?"

Are you saying a camera "repeats god's artistry nearly verbatim?" Or do you mean hyper-realism? I don't agree either way. How can art repeat "nearly verbatim" a 4D world on a 2D surface. Makes no sense. I don't think you have thought about this enough before you say it.

Anyway really comes down to what you mean by "better pictures." If you have *your* axiom for what makes "better" or "lesser" picture... then that would begin a good argument. As you make the argument now, it's nothing yet. Just stating suppositions and telling everybody to believe in god or something.

RND

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Richard said...

“Assumptions are more like blind guesses just to go on, like supposition means ‘uncertain belief.’ Presumptions are more probability based, so more ‘likely.’ Beliefs can be right or wrong though, just because you believe doesn't mean anything. None of them (assumption, presumption, supposition, unjustified belief) are ‘human knowledge’ like a belief that has been justified by testing over time.
[…] [General applicability of Godel’s incompleteness theorems ] is not true. […] Just stating suppositions and telling everybody to believe in god or something.”
---------
Godel’s incompleteness theorems absolutely applies to the rest of logic, and by extension, knowledge itself; there is no systematic field of knowledge, or even casual area of knowledge, which is not based on beliefs taken to be axiomatic which cannot be formally proven within that selfsame system. To ask me to prove this is to ask me to prove the negative, which is a painfully slow procedure. If there is a positive proof for the existence of an area of knowledge which requires no foundational assumptions, if there is an area of knowledge which requires no axioms, I’d suggest you point to it – such a foundational piece of knowledge would be the greatest discovery in human history, and would become the Rosetta Stone by which we conquer the language of the cosmos.

Even those beliefs that have been “justified by testing over time” require foundational axioms for determining what constitutes a successful test, how testing should run, how we take tests, what parameters we think we can accurately test, and even the implicit notion that testing produces knowledge which is itself more concrete than other kinds of knowledge.

Your system of breaking down assumptions into assumption/presumption/supposition does not appear to be a useful system. It requires that you give a truth value to an assumption before you have given a truth value in the first place. Let’s go back to the existence of a god for an example.

Let’s assume that I take as axiomatic that there is a god, and you take as axiomatic that there is not a god. To use your assumption/presumption/supposition categories, we are put in the position of having to apply a priori truth values to the opponent’s axioms! Which is to say that we are taking as axiomatic that the opponent’s axioms are not axiomatic, which is a horribly stupid system for finding the truth values of statements based on competing axioms. I’ll come back to this.


>>"do you have an additional argument for why illusionistic art is lesser than cartooning,"

>Who said this? I don't know where you are getting it. Show me the quote!

It is a translation of this: “Photo-hugging artists with faux-expressive crayon tracing techniques aren't even in Booth's league; they impress with ‘loose’ photo-based drawing more than they express with their nonlinear (artful) composing.”

Richard said...

>> "do you have an additional argument for why the human touch, human eye, produces better pictures than merely repeating god's artistry as closely to verbatim as is possible?"

> “Are you saying a camera ‘repeats god's artistry nearly verbatim?’ Or do you mean hyper-realism? I don't agree either way. How can art repeat ‘nearly verbatim’ a 4D world on a 2D surface.”

Okay, so, a photo of a man is not a man. Umberto Eco’s 1-to-1 Map of Rome is not itself Rome. But photographs are images which more accurately give a forensic description of god’s artistry than a cartoon.

Even a mediocre photo of a desert storm cloud, will tell more about God’s Earth and Artistry than did Von Schmidt’s desert cloud cartoon.
The counter argument to this generally goes that a photo tells less of the story of a man than does a caricature, because a caricature exaggerates a person’s features to give a more whole description of their character. But I would argue that those features were already there in the photo. The caricature did not add to the photo, it did not add to God’s artistic statement, it removed. The caricature, the cartoon, simplifies God’s aesthetic statement so that it is more easily consumable by sublunar minds, but that does not make it greater.

The drawing may have been harder to make, and that makes the creation of a drawing perhaps more edifying practice than merely taking photographs, but that wouldn’t mean that the end result is an object of greater artistry.

Which brings me back to the question of God. If we take as axiomatic that there is a God, and God is Beauty, Poetry, and Art. That the world is the great Objet D’Art of the greatest and only Artist, then that means that a Photo or a Hyperreal painting takes on a very different character compared with those same objects if there is no God.
If there is no God, then we require man’s artistry to imbue pictures with art.

If there is a God, and that God is beauty, then a photograph is already perfectly imbued with the artistry of the greatest artist. Even to mechanically capture that artistry into an image, whether by Photo or faux-expressive crayon tracing, produces an object of immense artistry.

Richard said...

> If there is no God, then we require man’s artistry to imbue pictures with art.

And this is why I say that Kev's is an experience of art too dirtied by hero worship.

(Or, rather, most people on this blog's experience is too dirtied by hero worship.)

He appears to experience man's art as the art, but I would argue that mankind's artworks are less than a footnote in the history of art. The art in the world is in nature, man's art is just the nascent babbling of clay.

Chris James said...

If only art's only purpose was to be journalism. Since nature hasn't and cant' produce an actual Tower of Babel, man's art will have to be THE art for now.

Art is an activity of man for the benefit of man. It's working from this premise (having a real education in drawing also helps) that you can understand why Hokusai and his "cartooning" (lmao) is every bit the equal of Durer and 5x more interesting. They're no Bruegel the Elder though, who had it all.

Anonymous said...

Godel's theorem is about FORMAL axiomatic system, which human knowledge is not. It was a narrow proof he made. There is a whole book on the misuse of his discovery outside of its original form which maybe you should read.

You double-down on your bluffing and just keep writing and writing. You end up with so much to respond to, why would anybody bother to answer? This is why you never learn, because you are so anxious to seem smart (and now a priest it seems) you leave no room for people to correct you.

You sermonize about god god god, when we are here to talk about art art art. And what is your definition of either art or god? You say "God is beauty, poetry, and art!" This is nobody's definition. Maybe a high college freshman. Basic history of art you simply deny that it always refers to something manmade. No sense to equating something that man does (art) with something he responds to (nature/god). You think you are smart and righteous for lumping definitions together like this? Then another lumping- "God is the artist" and "God is art" you say. And you talk about tautology? This is no argument about art. More like a sermon.

You don't tell us your definition of beauty, or art, or poetry tho. Because you clearly don't have anything technically coherent to say about them. I guess everybody who doesn't say god, god, god is dirty! dirty! dirty! As if you are some sacrosanct holy man, pure in being... even though bluffing, slandering, and arrogant.
You're neither a mathematician nor holy man. And you're no artist or philosopher either. I think maybe you have ADHD and some anxiety problems.

Why don't you let Kev speak for himself instead of always saying your "take" on what he means. You obviously constantly misinterpret him. And then you attack your misinterpretation like Kathy Newman and think you win.

RND

Anonymous said...

"dirtied by hero worship" As a card carrying follower of this blog , dirtied , I get a lot from Kev's posts , and wading through your little essays is the only dirt I find here . Someone made a funny analogy about non swimmers critiquing swimmers . If you spent some of the thousands of hours you've spent reading , and worked at drawing , your posts would hold a lot more weight .

Drake

Richard said...

“If only art's only purpose was to be journalism.”

That’s an interesting way to take what I’ve said. If indeed there is a God/are Gods, and the world was made artfully by that/those God/s, are our interpretations or variations on that art best described as journalistic?

To remove God from that argument for a moment, is the reproduction of any artwork journalism? E.g. are the Gould Variations a piece of journalism because Bach was the primary author?

“Art is an activity of man for the benefit of man.”

I’m not sure I understand your line of argument here.

It seems that either you’re holding that there are no gods and thus only man could make art (which if I recall correctly, I don’t think you believe), or alternatively, that if there is a God it does not imbue the things that it has made with aesthetic content.

I would find the latter a surprising position for a theist, but I wouldn’t put it outside of the realm of possibility. The Bible, for example, is suspiciously quiet on whether God is Beauty. It tells us that God is Truth, God is Love, and so on, but I don’t believe the Bible at any point declares that God is Beauty. That’s something that I find quite troubling in Abrahamic religion, since I see Beauty as the core quality of our universe – more so than Truth or Love respectively.


“There is a whole book on the misuse of his discovery outside of its original form which maybe you should read.”

I’d be happy to check it out if you’d say what it’s called and whom it’s by, although I would note that the existence of a book which disagrees with a premise is not a terribly good argument for that premise’s falseness.


“You sermonize about god god god, when we are here to talk about art art art.”

I haven’t sermonized about god or gods. What I’ve said was that if there is a personal god or gods who imbue the world with aesthetic content, as I believe that there are, it would have consequences for how we understand Art. All I did was laid out what Axioms I’m working from. This isn’t to silence your disagreement, on the contrary, it’s to allow my Axioms to be examined or debated.
Not to lay out my Axioms would be much more presumptive. If, for example, you hold that God does Not Exist, but haven’t explicitly laid that out as your Axiom for the discussion of whether the world is a Objet D’Art, I would suggest that that would be a dishonest way to debate Art.

This is not a sermon. It’s an in good faith attempt to debate from first principles. It would appear we have conflicting axioms, which goes back to my point that it is tautological to point out that my assumptions are assumed.


> “ ‘God is the artist’ and ‘God is art’ you say. And you talk about tautology?”

God is Art / God is Beauty is a rhetorical device in which I’m relating the less common belief of Universal Beauty with the commonly understood notion of Universal Truth or Universal Love.

kev ferrara said...

RICHARD: "do you have an additional argument for why illusionistic art is lesser than cartooning,"

RND: Who said this? I don't know where you are getting it. Show me the quote!

RICHARD: It is a translation of this: “Photo-hugging artists with faux-expressive crayon tracing techniques aren't even in Booth's league; they impress with ‘loose’ photo-based drawing more than they express with their nonlinear (artful) composing.”


Richard,

Here's a hint...

NEVER TRANSLATE ANYTHING.

It is exactly in translation that you insert your presumptions into the gaps where your understanding and vocabulary are not yet complete, instead of searching for the actual meaning of what is being said. As has been evidenced time and time again as well as in this current example. Inserting your ready made presuppositions into a knowledge gap will never progress your understanding.

Richard said...

"NEVER TRANSLATE ANYTHING."

I don't think that you can have a discussion of any kind if you don't translate, and thereby synthesize, what other people are saying.

Now, if I've synthesized incorrectly, fine, correct it. Every Galileo needs a Simplicio -- I'm happy to play Simplicio for you. I evidently have my own Simplicio in the form of RND, and perhaps it's Simplicios all the way down.

kev ferrara said...

God is Art / God is Beauty is a rhetorical device in which I’m relating the less common belief of Universal Beauty with the commonly understood notion of Universal Truth or Universal Love.

So your axioms are merely rhetorical devices. Brilliant!

If there is a God, and that God is beauty, then a photograph is already perfectly imbued with the artistry of the greatest artist. Even to mechanically capture that artistry into an image, whether by Photo or faux-expressive crayon tracing, produces an object of immense artistry.

So you declare that basic mimesis is artistry. And the more mimesis the better the art!

So a camera that accidentally goes off and takes a nice picture of a sunset is a better artist than Rembrandt.

THANKS FOR YOUR INPUT

kev ferrara said...

I don't think that you can have a discussion of any kind if you don't translate, and thereby synthesize, what other people are saying.

If you don't know the meaning of some word, phrase, or idea, it cannot possibly be translated properly or synthesized into your prior knowledge bases. THAT IS THE POINT.

kev ferrara said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kev ferrara said...

What I’ve said was that if there is a personal god or gods who imbue the world with aesthetic content, as I believe that there are, it would have consequences for how we understand Art. All I did was laid out what Axioms I’m working from. This isn’t to silence your disagreement, on the contrary, it’s to allow my Axioms to be examined or debated.

"Aesthetic content" is purified form of phenomenal experience which is necessarily based on suggestive sensual symbolisms which are necessary derived from imaginative abstraction (in the true sense of that word, not the modernist "non-referential" sense.) A camera does not capture such sensual abstract symbols because such are the product of our imagination or conceptual faculty. Imaginative abstractions cannot be captured mechanically.

Photos capture surfaces from a pinhole in a frozen instant. But the truth of existence is endless flow-change and omnipresence. Which is why photos are lies.

God does not sound like a debatable axiom. It sounds more like you want your "god axiom" to be "examined", which is proselytizing; nothing to do with the point of this blog.

Richard said...

> "Aesthetic content" is purified form of phenomenal experience which is necessarily based on suggestive sensual symbolisms which are necessary derived from imaginative abstraction (in the true sense of that word, not the modernist "non-referential" sense.) A camera does not capture such sensual abstract symbols because such are the product of our imagination or conceptual faculty.


Let’s assume for now that I agree that aesthetic content is "imaginative abstractions", "sensual abstract symbols", products of "conceptual faculty", et al.
Even so, we’re both making theological or secular arguments if we deduce that nature contains or is devoid of such things.

If there is a god, a camera could very well be capturing “sensual abstract symbols”. If there is not, it is much less likely that a camera is doing so.

It is not proselytizing to argue that IF god were to exist, that it would/could be true that a camera captures such things, any more than it is atheistic proselytizing to presuppose, as you do, that nature is devoid of artistic intention.
To shut down any discussion of naturally occurring aesthetics (whether by a personal God, or an aesthetic unmoved mover, or merely a natural occurring aesthetic aether), can only limit thought.
In this case, the desire to implicitly materialize questions of aesthetics has lead to a theory of art which is poorly suited to explain why the world is so damned beautiful, and why billions of people use the same words to describe photos that they do paintings.

kev ferrara said...

RND's point about 4 Dimensions of imaginative pictorial experience vs 2 Dimensions of a photo-mimetic work is a key one.

Moreover, each of our other senses offers an additional dimension of content which the sensitive and skilled artist can translate into aesthetic terms; as suggestions in his/her work that add other non-visual truths to the depicted experience via poesis.

This is the reason why Synesthesia was of such interest to the artists of the 1860-1930 era, because they were searching for poetic effects by which to translate and convey other sensory ideas in their work.

In the same era, the conceptual or imaginative sense was understood as the 6th sense by many artists, an additional dimension in art which takes in any number of tropes, like metaphor, mental association, or narrative.

There are further matters to discuss regarding how art makes attempts at truthful expression; i.e. on the ways that art deals with space, expressing the space around objects and between them, and haptic phenomena. I'm not going to list every degree of freedom. I don't even know the exact total of dimension of experience that art affords because it is hard to distinguish some classes of effects from others, and I may have missed some. But it is certainly well over ten dimensions of content.

Anyway, suffice to say it is all suggestion-based. And since such suggestive imputations are not available to mechanical surface recordings, the camera gets nowhere near them. The camera has no poetic ideas to expand its repertoire. Every photo, no matter how pretty, has a frozen mechanical pinhole origin.

kev ferrara said...

Even so, we’re both making theological or secular arguments if we deduce that nature contains or is devoid of (aesthetic content).

Truths are found in the world tangled together, which is why it takes a lot of rumination, rigor, and clarity of mind to abstract them successfully. For the same reason, experiential truths are confusing to communicate if not presented artfully: through abstraction, clarification, exaggeration, editing, orchestration, theming, synesthetic poesis, and narrative. It just so happens this list succinctly explains art's nature. If you've got a more comprehensive, smarter, more actionable explanation for everything found in art, I'd love to hear it.

Aesthetics is (roughly) about the human imaginative response to sensual symbolic information. It has always been presumed that our aesthetic responses originate in our adapted responses to experience. When it gets dark, we are naturally inclined to seek shelter. When we see blood on a rock, we become more aware of noises that sound like predators. And so on. If you believe that these indexes that we intuitively close in the imagination, which make us react correctly to preserve our being... if you believe they are in fact aesthetic suggestions given to us by God, that's fine. Even if they are, what we mean by art is something made by a human as an aesthetic communication to himself and others. And that's the stuff I'm here to discuss.

Anonymous said...

Richard,
People know a lot about a little and a little about a lot. Not surprisingly, many of our presumptions about existence are projections from the little upon the unknowable larger reality and its mysteries.

People used to acknowledge the mysteries as obvious where today they reject them, having surrendered to the little, the limited or the indeterminable nature of perceptions.
Systems of survival replaced the values of leisure, contemplation, paradoxes, curiosity, play, companionship, statesmanship, teacher, student, mother, child, courage, bereavement, ritual, celebrations, hope, etc. etc., which once held sway and were part of art through its many incarnations and no doubt many have wondered how to bring them back because they belong in art and had always been a prime mover of art.

But you’ve done something else, you’ve dismissed the decorative illustration for its limitations without care or consideration for its subject matter or interpretation. Then you changed course and presented the larger reality through the lens of a camera as if it clamored for no comment, awe, reverence or thought appearing like you subverted your own cause.

X

kev ferrara said...

Sean,

I think people continue to make resonant work of the timeless subjects. I don’t these subjects ever left. And anybody who wonders how to bring back those they think have left, should stop wondering and just bring them back. As the saying goes, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Richard said...

> Every photo, no matter how pretty, has a frozen mechanical pinhole origin.

The origin of a photo is not mechanical. The origin of the photo is in life. The camera, a dead mechanism, is used to capture and display a living image that existed quite outside of it, poetry that lived quite in spite of that camera's existence.

Neither does the mechanism of the human eye create the paintings it sees, despite that paintings must be communicated by mechanism before the brain may perceive them. The alternative is giving the camera and the human eye much too much credit.

As I write this I'm on my porch in an evening spring rain, more beautifully composed, more artistically rendered, with a greater depth of meaning, than any painting or photograph I've ever seen.

To consume this living art, I must capture it from the dead mechanism of my eyes. If I had DSLRs for eyes, I would consume a less authentic picture of that art, but the art wouldn't have changed. Similarly, if I looked at a Velasquez through eyes with cataracts, that wouldn't make Velasquez a worse painter. Were but the mechanism of my camera able to capture what the mechanism of my eyes can see…

> But you’ve done something else, you’ve dismissed the decorative illustration for its limitations

I don't think I dismissed it, per se. I said that it was edifying. I see the value of learning to draw and paint in the way it teaches us to see, not in the created works. I see the value in consuming art in the way it helps us to understand what others can see that we could not. The creation and consumption of that art has, to me, the end goal of letting us appreciate the artistry around us (what I believe to be god or the gods’ artistry).

Were every living human to have the eyes of Isaac Levitan, I'm not sure another painting or drawing would ever have to be made, but given that that isn't the case, I'm not in a position to dismiss human arts.

Anonymous said...

"As I write this I'm on my porch in an evening spring rain, more beautifully composed, more artistically rendered, with a greater depth of meaning, than any painting or photograph I've ever seen."

I dont think you understand what integrity in thought. You repeat what you believe as if just saying is an argument. You say "my surroundings are poetry" and you think that proves your surroundings were a written lyric by a deity. You say "my porch is a composition" and you think that proves it was composed. You say "my porch experience is artistically rendered" and that proves it was rendered and that it was art/artistic. Its like you have a hole in your reason. You mix up a simple rhetorical statement with an actual logical progression that someone can read and be convinced. Who are you talking for? To make an argument, make an argument. Don't just say again and again the same thesis and think it prove the thesis. Again, you are the one stuck in tautology thinking.

Maybe you got caught up in a mistaken idea of axioms. Since everybody has their axioms at bottom of their arguments, maybe you think the axiom is actually the argument? So all you need to do to make an argument is state the axiom over and over. You also seem to think an axiom is whatever you want, so long as you think it evidences itself. Well no. You can't just make any fantasy axiom and say "this is my basis for everything which is just as good as your basis." No, axiom must be a 'justified true belief' as close as you can get.

RND

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Anonymous said...

Richard,
There’s a difference between enjoying a lover in every pleasure and having the courage to say, I’ve enjoyed many, but by you I will stand as miserable as this whole thing may well make me and despite all that befalls us.

In a similar way, the artist is different than one appreciating art. The artist says, I believe in what I’m doing even though nothing I’m doing may ever sell. One appreciating art will be humbled from time to time by some surprisingly new revelation but the artist gets punched in the face over and over as his own ignorance is continually being revealed. And in the face of the beauty of life and so many opportunities to share of oneself to the benefit of others, one asks why make art? Am I depriving myself of something, is this really as valuable as one hopes, is this making a difference to anyone? Because life is hard and because life is fraught with such mysteries and questions that we call upon facts to reason and reason to belief.

Your statement regarding Levitan is one most artists consider. It’s all been done they say, why carry on? But no lover can dance on the surface of beauty forever without their ignorance eventually being revealed because life draws one in more deeply to itself and so it does to an artist. It does so whether one likes it or not and not always on one’s own terms.

X

Richard said...

> It’s all been done they say, why carry on?

I'm not saying that if every painting were made, there'd be no reason to make another. If we had infinite computational power and could generate every possible permutation of painting, I would still believe that every living human being ought to learn to paint and draw and sculpt because it teaches us to see, and seeing clearly is a requirement to living fully and worshipping deeply.

A religious education which doesn't include life drawing is not a good one.

kev ferrara said...

The origin of a photo is not mechanical. The origin of the photo is in life. The camera, a dead mechanism, is used to capture and display a living image that existed quite outside of it, poetry that lived quite in spite of that camera's existence.

This tactic of ferreting out a way to misunderstand a point as a way of staving off an inevitable recognition of error is fake intellectualism and deeply obnoxious. If you just want attention, acknowledge that.

Works of art don’t come out of the sky or grow on trees. They are made by people. Thus the birth of a work of art is in a human imagination; taking in memory, emotion, mood, intellection, fancy, style, morals, poetics, experience, design, and whatever else one can think of. In the act of working out the piece on canvas or paper or screen, other thoughts and feelings occur, or deadlines loom, and the actual creation of the finished work is the result of a psycho-physical process full of reflection, consideration, compromise, and creativity. One may say, as Aristotle did, that everything in the artwork is some kind of reflection of the world filtered through the artist. And that’s a fine thought, maybe true. But the originator of the work of art, of the actual symbolic object, is the artist him/herself. Art does not exist otherwise. Thus the use of the word “origin.” The origin of work of art is a creative human creating it.

Now map that understanding of process and influence onto the act of taking a photo. Photos also don’t exist in nature. The stopped moment of time that appears in a photograph does not exist in nature. The flatness of photo-form does not appear in nature. The distortions of a photo do not appear in nature. And so on. All these qualities that make a photo a photo originate with photographic technology. One may say, all that goes into the lens comes from without, and that’s a fine thought. But the origination of those qualities that make a photo a photo derive from the photographic technology, not nature. The origin of a photo is the activation of a camera mechanism that flips a shutter open and shut, allowing in a moment of light, capturing it on a receptive field inside the camera which maps to a viewing surface in the final presentation of the recording.

kev ferrara said...

The camera, a dead mechanism, is used to capture and display a living image that existed

Your inability to compute basic corrections to your thought is making me repeat myself.

A frozen microsecond of light bouncing off surfaces into a pinhole does not make "a living image" because it cannot capture life. It is a logical impossibility. Life is far more than light, far more than surface deep, far more than a pinhole's view, and far more than a millisecond in duration. There is no way to experience the frozen quality of a photograph in life because life can't be frozen; absolute stillness is utterly alien to life experience. It is a rank falsehood. So any rendering of life that does not suggest in every aspect of it the persistently narrative quality of life is a reductive distortion of it; some kind of a lie. That is why real art is so concerned with gesture and suggestion and other narrative illusions.

The only way to get the frozen, myopic, mechanical falsehoods of photography is by photography. So, again, the "origin" of a photograph's nature as a unique reductive distortion of a visual experience derives from its technology.

200 years ago this was obvious because photographs hadn't yet seduced and infected so many minds. Now people grow up saturated in photography and seeing the glossy correlation with the look of the world since birth think it an accurate visual account. Such is the ubiquity of our stupefaction by glittering surface mimesis.

-------

Guess I'll also need to restate another ignored point; that if, as you assert, mimetic fidelity to nature is the highest goal of art, a camera that accidentally goes off and takes a nice pretty picture must be a better artist than Rembrandt.

But... since an accidental photograph has no intention behind it and no author, it cannot be art (in the sense that art is usually taken to mean an aesthetic communication which is crafted by humans.) And a camera is obviously not an artist either, so a camera definitionally cannot be a better artist than Rembrandt. Which all serves to prove that surface mimesis alone cannot be the peak goal of Art. For how can something that is not art, not artful, and not done by an artist be the main purpose of art?

Richard said...

> Guess I'll also need to restate another ignored point; that if, as you assert, mimetic fidelity to nature is the highest goal of art, a camera that accidentally goes off and takes a nice pretty picture must be a better artist than Rembrandt.

> But... since an accidental photograph has no intention behind it and no author

It appears the argument is now fully at an impasse where you must restate that only man makes art, and I'm forced to repeat that, no, God also makes art.

I'd say that a camera which "accidentally" goes off and takes a better photo than a Rembrandt, has an author still, if not a mortal one.

I'm happy that we hashed out this terrain, but saddened that we don't appear to be able to argue this more without getting into arguments for or against God The Artist, which I don't think either of us are willing to entertain today.

I'm also saddened that it appears you cannot concede that if there is a God, your arguments against the camera are largely void (as I have done by admitting that if there is no God, your arguments are incontrovertible).

Anonymous said...

“and seeing clearly is a requirement to living fully and worshipping deeply.”

I get what you’re saying, the call to seeing, wonder and beauty, but there have been blind saints.
Different capacities are dependent on perceptions which are interpretations, but end up before an unknowable.
No one can avoid it by argument. A good piece of art goes beyond its knowable parts. It is a distinct creation.

I’m not against what you’re trying to get at, but these are hard subjects to express.
Even a spatial silence one may encounter in each area can possess unique characteristics.
You’re talking about some profound stuff central to some and at the edges of wonder for others, but
the camera wasn’t the best analogy to use because it lacks the human response to what artists agree is wonder.
X

kev ferrara said...

It appears the argument is now fully at an impasse where you must restate that only man makes art, and I'm forced to repeat that, no, God also makes art.

You're at the impasse.

The word art has a known reference, a long history, an etymology; everybody here knows generally what is meant by "art." And "artist."

Except, suddenly, you.

People who seek to win imaginary victories in their mind by asserting changes in word definitions are known, colloquially, as nuts.

I'd say that a camera which "accidentally" goes off and takes a better photo than a Rembrandt, has an author still, if not a mortal one.

Nikon hear our prayer.

I'm happy that we hashed out this terrain, but saddened that we don't appear to be able to argue this more without getting into arguments for or against God The Artist, which I don't think either of us are willing to entertain today.

Yes! That is your escape! Take it! Run! You haven't lost the argument! You've saved face! Now Run!

I'm also saddened that it appears you cannot concede that if there is a God, your arguments against the camera are largely void (as I have done by admitting that if there is no God, your arguments are incontrovertible).

Did you understand anything I wrote? Even if you believe in God, the camera gives a brutally false impression of His world. The camera is the tool of Satan; the reason for the mass indoctrination into material surfaces, mindless commercial desires, and pornography. You have been seduced by it as well. Which is why you can't see all its lies and manipulations.

Repent sinner.

chris bennett said...

I said some time back on this blog that the difference between paintings and photography is that paintings are sentient-written. Is there such a thing as an unfinished photograph? Is there such a thing as 'a natural work of art?'? If the answer is that all creation itself is a work of art then one has to conclude that the deity responsible for setting up a cosmos that produced the mental make-up of the individuals who sanctioned gassing six million people is part of it. To believe such a proposition we must enter the feeble-minded world of the 'praise God for your good news!' brigade.

Chris James said...

Visual art is cuisine. Created by man for the pleasure of man. The raw ingredients may be manufactured by nature or God, and for that we should be grateful. And they may be tasty in their own right, but it takes man to turn those ingredients into cuisine from which man will derive even greater satisfaction than if he ate the raw ingredients by themselves.

Whatever the intent, function, or purpose of nature is, I have no reason to believe that it is aesthetic, that there is intent to appeal to the aesthetic pleasure of humans. Honestly, nature is often an unsightly mess, visually speaking.

Bosch, Dali, Escher, Rubens, Dore, Frazetta etc. in their most famous works, are not "journalists" of nature, they are chefs. They create images that nature does not by re-arranging/subtracting from/adding to/heightening the visual raw materials of reality. "The Garden of Earthly Delights" does not in fact exist on Earth, so a man had to create the art that nature didn't, or couldn't. This is what i mean when I say if only all art was journalistic, than reproducing nature verbatim would determine the artistry of the work. But then instead of looking at paintings or photos, you'd watch Planet Earth on a 4k screen

Some art does have mere journalistic intent, but I find no interest in it.

Chris James said...

And I think we should cut the crayon users some slack. It's such a chintzy medium, hardly anything good can be done with it. I'd say that dry media is rubbish for anything beyond sketches. So for those interested, I've taken the liberty of drawing up a shopping list of dry media that are worth a damn:

-the red and black chalks of Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Rubens
-The charcoal of Fechin
-Prismacolor colored pencils

Some of these may be difficult to get a hold of.

Everything else you can safely throw in the trash and you'd instead be better off getting comfortable with ink drawing. It's sharper, bolder, cleaner, just as versatile if not more, and most professional looking.

Richard said...

> If the answer is that all creation itself is a work of art then one has to conclude that the deity responsible for setting up a cosmos that produced the mental make-up of the individuals who sanctioned gassing six million people is part of it.

Putting aside theodicy, it's unclear why a God who's focus is on creating a world of aesthetic content would have to be "good" in human terms.

Richard said...

Actually, looking at those pagan and animist religions where there are gods of beauty, they almost universally hold that the gods are not good -- from Adonis and Aphrodite to Bastet -- Japan, Greece, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Americas, etc.

The idea that God is good is actually fairly isolated to Christianity, and it's offspring in Islam, Baha'i.

Richard said...

> I have no reason to believe that it is aesthetic, that there is intent to appeal to the aesthetic pleasure of humans.

I didn't say that. If beauty is universal, then it could stand to reason that the gods made beauty for their own sake, and that we are able to appreciate it as well for its merely having existed.

Richard said...

> the camera wasn’t the best analogy to use because it lacks the human response to what artists agree is wonder.

I'm left in wonder by the beauty of all sorts of things that I've only ever seen in photographs -- take any given nebula.

A theory of aesthetics which holds that nebulae aren't aesthetically beautiful because they're not manmade, or appreciably beautiful because I've only ever seen them in photographs is dead on arrival.

chris bennett said...

Putting aside theodicy, it's unclear why a God who's focus is on creating a world of aesthetic content would have to be "good" in human terms.

But you are attributing God with aesthetic purpose, a concept of the human mind just as much as the idea of morality. Just as much, in fact, as the idea of Art.

Richard said...

Chris,

Do you hold that aliens may exist? If so, could aliens have aesthetic purpose?

Would suggesting that they make art or have morality be projecting human attributes?

To plagiarize from Clark's third law: any sufficiently advanced alien is indistinguishable from a God.

I can't see why a deity shouldn't be able to appreciate aesthetic content or have a sense of morality of some kind.

chris bennett said...

To you first question: 'yes, very probably'.
To your second question: 'possibly'.
To your third question: 'no, just recognising similarities in the function'.

The fact that lesser mortals sometimes erroneously attribute god-like powers to mightier mortals is beside the point. An omnipotent deity, by definition, will not have the physical and mortal constraints which evolutionarily forge the psychological wiring of finite beings, their congenital need for meaningfulness and thereby the emergence of the aesthetic impulse.

kev ferrara said...

A theory of aesthetics which holds that nebulae aren't aesthetically beautiful because they're not manmade, or appreciably beautiful because I've only ever seen them in photographs is dead on arrival.

Here we go again.

Same old mental glitch. These argumentative shell games are so bloody tiresome.

Nobody ever said nature could not be beautiful.

Nobody ever said a photo could not be beautiful.

Nobody ever said a nebula could not be beautiful.

The question about a photograph is whether it is necessarily art (let alone the highest achievement of art) simply because it captures some visual aspects of the world which correspond to our experience of it which are also pretty to look at. I think I have succinctly argued for why it is not. As Chris and others have.

The question of the use of the word "aesthetic" is the only actual debate at present. For the purposes of an art discussion I tend to keep it bottled to the field of creative human communication. When I discuss Aesthetics, I discuss the Aesthetics of Art.

But, as I have already pointed out, our aesthetic responses almost surely come from our more general intuitive adaptive responses to natural signs in our environment. From our shifts in mood that accompany the darkening that comes with cloud cover before a storm, to one's stunned reaction to the radiant beauty of a fertile and lovely female smiling your way. Ruskin's discussions of the awe and the sublime in nature, for example, are not only legitimate areas of aesthetic inquiry, but are classic examples of such.

But these Aesthetic discussions of natural phenomena only get us so far for the purposes of Art. Because Art edits its source material - otherwise naturally occurring signs - so extensively that it becomes its own language separate and distinct from nature. It is our development of that Aesthetic Language that I am mainly interested in. That is my fascination.
____

Regarding photos of Nebulae; just imagine experiencing them in real life. And you will experience the correct perspective of what little aesthetic information a photo of such a cosmic entity can offer. One simply cannot "close" the scale or sculptural qualities involved from the photo alone. Even if the photo were building-sized. It makes a pretty picture. Cool stuff no doubt. But we must leave the photograph and go into our own minds to get anywhere near the actual awesome reality. Which is by way of explaining that the photo itself is anaesthetic with respect to what it might take to get a proper haptic-spatial-temporal sense of a Nebula.

Richard said...

Okay, so let's go back in time. You've never seen a nebula before. Photos of them exist, but you haven't seen one.

Let's say it's the 1960s. You're flipping through a magazine, filled with gorgeous illustrations of upper middle class New Englanders, and you come to a photo of a nebula.

Even if it's not art, would you at least agree that you would find it as beautiful?

Anonymous said...

Richard,
I assume you missed the post above yours before you sent your own. In addition to the that comment.

A belief in God is a real thing and has inspired artists to express their appreciation in religious, cultural and natural works especially landscapes. But if you’re talking about teaching people how to see, the camera is a woeful compromise to that mission because it distorts and flattens space, eliminates many values and there’s almost no color compared to what one finds in nature and these compromises are done mechanically without thoughtfulness or respect for the subject.
X

kev ferrara said...

Let's say it's the 1960s. You're flipping through a magazine, filled with gorgeous illustrations of upper middle class New Englanders, and you come to a photo of a nebula.

Even if it's not art, would you at least agree that you would find it as beautiful?


I might find it less, more, or equally beautiful.

To talk seriously about Beauty, though, you need to understand that most of the time the phrase is used colloquially. I made a list at one point and found around 16 different colloquial usages of the word. It's as misused a word as Art. So it makes it very difficult to develop an understanding of beauty without pinpointing the phenomena first. Beauty is a particular kind of human response to a particular class of phenomena. From there we work back to an analysis of why we respond to the beautiful and what that response tends to be and all the different phenomena that might thrust similar beauty-responses upon us. And then from there we work back to a non-technical dictionary definition of the word.

I've never written it the same way twice, but my current view is that Beauty is something like; the sudden aesthetic intuition of the sublimated meaningful order organizing a complex but clarified source of significance.

Part of the problem of stating a definition in English is that words are a different language with different properties from aesthetic signs. And so any attempted translation will be highly lossy and compromised.

It is also worth considering Kant's point about beauty being a contemplative response. Rather than a response born out of acquisitive interest.

Sean Farrell said...

Kev,
My sympathies are with you in trying to define the elusive mysteries of beauty when things have broken down so much that defining the obvious is causing people real troubles. These things mean so much to you and a lack of passion you can never be accused. Accept my apologies for losing my patience with you in 2017.
And though you may not experience your own excursions as the occasional unsolicited root canal, consider them forgiven in total from this one reader.

Also, thanks for the link to the Jordan Peterson and Professor Stephen Hicks discussion on postmodernism from Rousseau to Foucault. That was a gift.
Sincerely,
Sean

kev ferrara said...

Thanks (?) Sean,

No need for apologies though. I wasn't offended. The only things I am offended by are bad faith argumentation and that combination of ignorance and arrogance I call ARRRGHnorance.

And fyi I definitely experience the writing of many of my technical posts as deep and horrible dentistry. I can only imagine the tedium of reading them. But if I don't spell things out, people accuse me of bluffing or tantalyzing with information I never share; or things that are not true go unanswered on the page, causing miseducation. I almost never speak in real life the way I write. People are generally shocked when they meet me after having read me here.

The bright side of all this tooth spelunking is often I find that answering a challenging question here can lead me to a more important answer I had been looking for elsewhere. But generally, I write here to educate, empower and encourage those who would combat vapid, pretentious and destructive culture-vulture dogmas. Anybody who shares that mission is an ally to me, even if they aren't technical about it. Thankfully Peterson and others of his mindset have come along to get more to the root of the problem. If only we had 40 more people as charismatic as he is and all over the political spectrum and of every conceivable "identity."

Chris James said...

If we admit a bit of the universe is beautiful, even far beyond anything man can create, what does that have to do with art,level of artistry, and who/what creates it? Beauty is only one thing art can provide, and, afaic, not the most important. Goya created great works of Art, portraying ugly scenes that were also lacking in beauty of color, paint handling, and surface compared to any random, forgotten Neo-Classic painter. What they lacked in superficial beauty they made up for in emotional, intellectual, and imaginative power. There is a basic facility with copying and understanding nature he needed to possess, but the artistry of these works mostly comes from his sensibilities, intent, and choices, not the beauty of nature.

Btw good art photography and artful photo-journalism still relies on the same power of the artist, which are selectivity. In his case, seeking out or waiting for the elements of nature or human activity that align themselves into a suitable arrangement of shapes, light, dark, etc.

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kev ferrara said...

Btw good art photography and artful photo-journalism still relies on the same power of the artist, which are selectivity. In his case, seeking out or waiting for the elements of nature or human activity that align themselves into a suitable arrangement of shapes, light, dark, etc.

Chris James,

Respectfully, I don't think this is correct.

Some thought experiments...

If you walk around an aviary and come upon a spot where the song of one bird is combining with the song of another bird in an interesting melodic and rhythmic way. And you take out your iphone to record the audio, that doesn’t mean you are its songwriter or the singer. You found it and captured it with a mechanical recording device.

If you go to a grocery store -- a million food items to choose from -- and you purchase a particular pre-made potato salad, a particular store-made rotisserie chicken, and bottle of wine, that doesn’t make you a chef. You selected from what was available. There was no transformation of basic elements to create the meal.

If you walk around the city eavesdropping on conversations and finally hit upon one that you think is interesting -- maybe there are interesting repetitions of words in the exchange, maybe one participant speaks in paradoxes and rhymes, maybe one has a natural poetic meter -- and you write it all down verbatim, that doesn’t make you a writer. You didn’t come up with the content. The poetic alignments or symmetries in the exchange were all creations of the speakers themselves.

Similarly, no matter if you seek out, wait for, or accidentally photograph elements of nature in some kind of interesting alignment, that alignment was already there. There is no manipulation of the basic elements by the photographer to make the aligned reality manifest. There was no creation. You simply found and took. Even if it took a lot of waiting and looking to find, its still finding and taking.

1/2

kev ferrara said...

2/2

To explain it another way, what if, as a photographer, you find non-alignment interesting? What if you think it is really artistic to record scenes that are visually dull, or obvious, or chaotic in a meaningless way? What if you think art should never be manipulative so you shouldn't think about what you photograph at all; you just click randomly. Those are choices too. Equally found or curated, and then captured by a machine. The fundamental constituent (light) not being meaningfully transformed by clicking the shutter button in any of these cases.

In short, there are two different kinds of selection. Imaginative selection is one kind of selection, but just one of the creative activities an artist does to produce his idea. Curatorial Selection is the other, and it is mostly what an editor or producer or DJ or museum director or collector or journalist does. It is a kind of critical procurement and is barely creative.

Selection per se therefore can not be the "great power of the artist" if it can be done by people who aren't artists at all and aren't making art.

That these two types of selection have been colloquially confused in our modern era is no surprise, as we live in a time of almost overwhelming pandering and aphilsophical justifications of unethical practices in the arts.

Alignment is also very deceptive as a principle of art. It is actually a principle of design simplified from a deeper principle of composition. Alignment alone, or any kind of symmetry, doesn’t necessarily have meaning to it. It is often the illusion of meaning. (Most design principles are reductions of compositional principles.)

Now, about actually artful photography... When the thing in front of the camera has been sculpted with form and light by the artist for the sake of a camera shot, then it is surely Art because it is sculpture. The basic elements have been manipulated by the artist and transformed for the sake of expression. But the photograph of this sculpture of light and form is not art, it is only a recording of it; a journalizing of it. Just as if you were taking a photo of a frieze, the frieze is the work of art, not the photo of it.

Sean Farrell said...

Kev,
Thanks for the new word arrrghnorance. One of the pitfalls of being human is that the discovery and recognition of one’s dignity is a persistent and persistently misunderstood process. We more easily recognize it in externals and are transported accordingly. Our interior poverty is rarely self evident, nor our eager compromises. Order is recognized in beauty because they’re roommates. They reside in humility, excited or awed, but withdraw with the next distraction.

They will persist because they never leave. They’re hidden in every dynamic turn of phrase, cutting truth, juxtaposition of color and form, musical and linguistic phrases, visual linguistics, human gain and loss, in every confrontation, sorrow, success or error and every human story. And once acquainted with beauty and order, people seek to know them better, to defend them and promote them. It is a fire of the heart that can't be stopped.

You come by way of the stones you turn, Robert McKee, Kant, Pierce and your own explorations. Peterson and Professor Hicks from their philosophical scholarship with references to Soltzenitzen, Shakespeare or Milton. But order, beauty and good sense can come on a walk home alone from summer school and that moment that will return again and again in life. It is repressed in our busy world, but it can’t be repressed forever. Short cuts and expediency reveal discontent. It’s not looking good at the moment, but yours is a good cause. Share on.

Sean

Richard said...

> If we admit a bit of the universe is beautiful, even far beyond anything man can create, what does that have to do with art,level of artistry, and who/what creates it? Beauty is only one thing art can provide, and, afaic, not the most important.

Oh jeez, that's a whole 'nother debate. I guess I should have prefaced this all with another assumed assumption. ;-)

I assume the assumption that beauty is the chief good, the most important thing in the universe, the parent quality of all that is virtuous or good, whether truth, love, and so on.

I also assume the assumption that beauty is the sole goal of all Arts, and the Arts are therefore a chiefly important (even holy) activity, because of their relationship to the supreme good.

Richard said...

(And I assume the assumption that when the Arts are not participating in beauty, the Arts aren't Art at all.)

kev ferrara said...

You come by way of the stones you turn, Robert McKee, Kant, Pierce and your own explorations. Peterson and Professor Hicks from their philosophical scholarship with references to Soltzenitzen, Shakespeare or Milton. But order, beauty and good sense can come on a walk home alone from summer school and that moment that will return again and again in life. It is repressed in our busy world, but it can’t be repressed forever. Short cuts and expediency reveal discontent. It’s not looking good at the moment, but yours is a good cause. Share on.

Just to clarify something; not only do I generally not speak "intellectually" in real life about art (unless prompted), but I grew up living a physical life, half in the city and half in the country, full of joy and danger and love and tragedy and all sorts of amazing adventures. I don't know what I would think of as True had I not had all that essentially unmediated experience behind me. But it gave me a firm foundation in life without reference to words.