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« Been there, Done That Redux | Main | Female Gaze »

October 09, 2002

Free Reads--Philip Roth redux


In your posting “Free Reads—Philip Roth” you comment that “a gift for writing fiction has nothing whatever to do with the ability to reason and make sense of things.” I would guess that Roy Lichtenstein would agree with you, if you would extend your comment to the visual arts and to the ability to make sense of things—verbally.

In Michael Kimmelman’s book, “Portraits,” he talks with Roy Lichtenstein as they walk around the Metropolitan Museum of art:

Lichtenstein settles finally on a group of Ellsworth Kellys: a tall standing steel sculpture, nearly rectangular, and two shaped canvases, one of them all blue.

Ellsworth Kelly (from nature?)

[Lichtenstein:] ‘[The Kelly painting] is the ultimate in color intensity. It’s entirely about the relationship between color and shape. There’s no modulation of color. Modulation is usually read as atmosphere, it gives you a sense of recession. But here you don’t have that, there’s no illusion, which turns the picture into a thing, the opposite of a window. It’s like a sculpture that just happens to be on the wall. I know Ellsworth says it comes from nature. But I don’t know why you’d want to say this, because art relates to perception, not nature. All abstract artists try to tell you that what they do comes from nature, and I’m always trying to tell you that what I do is completely abstract. We’re both saying something we want to be true. I don’t think artists like myself, or Ellsworth, have the faintest idea what we’re doing, but we try to put it words that sound logical. Actually’—Lichtenstein grins—‘I think I do what I’m doing. But no other artist does.’

Roy Lichtenstein (pure abstraction?)

An excellent example, I think, of why art needs to reference a tradition of meaning outside itself.



posted by Friedrich at October 9, 2002


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