Friday, September 16, 2011

Until December, I'll be posting weekly artist research for these projects I'm doing in my Painting II class.  

Juan Sanchez Cotan lived from June 1560 to September 1627 in Spain.  He was a realist painter who specialized in still life and religious art. His style is severe and vibrant with interesting and thought-out compositions.  This piece is called Quince, Cabbage, Melon and Cucumber from 1602; it is now at the San Diego Museum of Art.
                                                                                                                                                                     This still life is relevant to my work in that it strays from tradition, and it strays from the traditional way I think a still life should look. I want to be doing this as an artist; pushing boundaries until they fall.  When I think still life, I have the same boring image in my head of a vase on a table, or a basket of fruit,  when it could be anything that is still, in any arrangement.  I need to not be boxed in by my ideas.  It seems to me that Cotan was more concerned with composition than tradition. The strings hanging the fruit and the vegetable from the ceiling lead the viewers eye down and right, through the composition, and through the melon, to end in the shadow of the cucumber.
Cotan's work, hundreds of years later, continues to inspire us to rebel against tradition. Artist Ori Gersht looked at Cotan's piece and saw the potential for movement (He was born in 1967 and is still kicking, and is an Israeli fine art photographer who lives and works in London).  The image below is a still frame of  a slow motion video Gersht created. Gersht renames the piece Pomegranate, and he replaces Cotan's  quince with a pomegranate being shot by some sort of projectile.  He captures the scene at the very moment before impact.

And here is a link to this image in motion. It's great.

I wanted to include some of Cotan's religious work just to give a look at how traditional some of his work was.  He seemed to really let loose when painting still life, which implies they were vital for his expression when the religious, commissioned works weren't as much. This painting is of Saint Sebastian from 1615. It's luminosity comes from being painted on copper.

I am reading a book called Aesthetics and Painting by Jason Gaiger. So far, I've read the first chapter where Gaiger explains that old debate between philosophers and artists, the relevance of philosophy in art. He explains the different theories for thinking about and critiquing art thus far in the history of aesthetics and how each falls short to find an all encompassing view. He uses quotes from artists such Barnett Newman and Picasso to discuss the artists' resistance to the philosophy of aesthetics in art:

Wyndham Lewis told the critic and philosopher T.E. Hulme, 'I do it, you say it.' More brutally, Pablo Picasso once retorted to someone who was trying to explain his work: ' Don't speak to the driver!' What lies behind these remarks is the belief that the artist is always one step ahead of the philosopher, who frequently arrives too late on the scene and whose efforts at comprehension never quite live up to the originality and excitement of the creative process (p.5).
Gaiger proposes that none of the traditional views for thinking about painting are quite good enough. None of them are sufficiently all-inclusive to give real insight to the 'ultimate truth of painting.'  He says, neither should we reject philosophy as important to art or art important to philosophy, but embrace them as inseparable, and necessary parts of each other.

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