The Laws of Nature

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Artists of the Future


Cavitation by Katharine A. Cartwright, 2010
watercolor on paper, 20" x 26"

The Art Spirit by Robert Henri

A good picture is a well-built structure. There is material in the model before you for all kinds of structures. All these structures will be like the model, but beyond likeness there will be a manifestation of something more real, more related to all things, and more unique in itself. Infinite simplicity. A direct purpose and most exacting choice of terms of expression. I believe the great artists of the future will use fewer words, copy fewer things, essays will be shorter in words and longer in meaning. There will be a battle against obscurity. Effort will be made to put everything plain, out in the open. By this means we will enter into the real mystery. There will be fewer things said and done, but each thing will be fuller and will receive fuller consideration. (p. 50-51)

In this forward-thinking statement, Henri challenges artists everywhere to simply express the essence of his observations and thoughts. As I read this passage written in 1923, I began to reflect about the author's prediction in the context of his world at the time. The art world ninety years ago was composed of movements like Fauvism, Cubism, Expressionism, Futurism, and the beginnings of Dadaism and Surrealism. These movements emerged from and in reaction to Impressionism, Romanticism, Symbolism, and Realism to name a few and marked a shift in thinking that was more self-conscious. I think that the level of complexity achieved during that era was greater than it had been previously, but not necessarily in Henri's work.

The art of Henri's future (today's art) is composed of so many different movements that it would take several paragraphs to list them all. The lid is off this can of worms and I think the level of complexity is even greater and more is out in the open. But, is there really a battle against obscurity? Collectively, maybe so. There appears to be no subject that's taboo, and no idea that's stifled. Has this resulted in infinite simplicity? I suppose that depends upon how one defines "simplicity."

For Henri, simplicity is the rendered essence of the subject: beyond likeness there will be a manifestation of something more real, more related to all things, and more unique in itself .

What are your thoughts about this??

19 comments:

Celeste Bergin said...

ha.I.will.be.clear.with.my.reponse.






lol. Wouldn't Henri be disappointed to see how we did not get more succinct AT ALL. lol.

Dan Kent said...

Hmmmm, simplicity? It may happen when human beings have very large, bald heads and communicate telepathically, but I think we ain't there yet.

But successful art that evokes a response always manifests something more real than the art itself.

(Hah - got to you early this time!!)

Casey Klahn said...

I'll jump in and say that your abstracts completely blow me away!

Kathy said...

Hi Celeste - funny!! I think Henri would be disappointed, too. Or, maybe he'd feel enlightened. Don't know.

Hi Dan - Great to hear from you so early! I love your statement: "successful art that evokes a response always manifests something more real than the art itself." Profound!

Hi Casey - Thank you very much! I love painting them, and am working on a series right now that deals with the physical laws of nature. Lots of fun.

-Don said...

Cavitation is captivating - the colors, the shapes, the depth and the movement all draw me in and leave me sitting here with my mouth wide open...

According to Henri, this would be a "good picture", because it is a "well-built structure", and there is a "manifestation of something more real, more related to all things, and more unique in itself". EXCELLENT!

Regarding Henri's quotes here - Who are the great artists of our now, Henri's future? Are they really 'great' artists of or simply the most successful, the most vocal, or the most publicized? Will their work stand the test of time or will it be viewed as dated and a fad in years to come? (Or, worse yet, will it simply disappear?) As for simplicity, there is no way I could call the work I see out there as infinitely simplistic. There are so many overlapping media being utilized on so many levels that I dare say it's infinitely convoluted. Many artists fear obscurity and use shock value and promotional stunts in their attempt to make their work seem important and relevant - I guess this means to me that there are MORE "things said and done" to receive "fuller consideration".

I guess my take on Henri's words here could be: he was prescient on some levels and optimistically naive on others.

-Don

Stan Kurth said...

Wow Kathy, what a beautiful painting. I'm pulled right in. It has fascinating depth of color, shape and line. Outstanding!

As for Henri and the topic. No matter the subject, I still believe it's all about essence; a narrowing of you and a world looking for what's missing.

hwfarber said...

Infinite simplicity--I think of Richard Serra; especially his sculpture, "To Lift."

Kathy said...

Hi Don - I'm blushing! Thank you very much. You make sense about the state of contemporary art and simplicity. It seems that society works toward greater and greater complexity in our lives, technology, and connectiveness. This seems to make simplicity irrelevant, but I know that it isn't.

Hi Stan - Thank you! I'm having fun with this new series. And, you make a great point about rendering the essence of something. That's key.

Hi Hallie- a great reference! Thank you.

PAMO said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kathy said...

Hi Pam - Thank you! This new series is so much fun to create and paint. As you move forward, continue to use your intuition. It will lead you in the right direction and should never be ignored, even when you're engaged in more formal study in the arts. I'm totally engaged in your new work!

Carolina Moon Arts Studio said...

Unfortunately, it seems sensationalism is what grabs audiences these days especially on TV and in the media. I think some artists feel that also needs to be carried into their artwork to get noticed. I believe less is more!

Absolutely awesome artwork kathy!

Dan Kent said...

I'm back - because I was in such a rush this morning, I didn't even really look at your art. I love it - love this new direction you are taking! It is so skillfully done and very beautiful. It's like tumbling into an art vortex..

Dan Kent said...

Sorry - one more comment - just occurred to me, and I had to laugh. Re your artwork, simplicity it is not!

Kathy said...

Hi Carolyn - how true!! Thanks so much for your support :-)

Hi Dan - Thank you!! I'm blushing.

Gary Keimig said...

I'm not sure where simplicity is in your newest piece, Kathy. It is definitely very complex. Maybe the simplicity is in how well conceived and then worked out. It is great. I jus tthink it is wonderful that so many art forms are in evidence today. There is something for everyone. I wnet through a period that I thought I need to loosen up. Be more impressionistic. I finally realized that that was not me. Since I have tried doing my thing and making it all work in a realistic way. I was told by my highschool art teacher that I would never make it as an artist because I would not follow directions. Duh. What is art?

Kathy said...

Hi Gary - I definitely wasn't going for simplicity :-) I had the same realization as you after many failed attempts to "loosen up." It just isn't "me." And, as you note, we must be true to ourselves. Your high school art teacher didn't understand art, and probably squelched aspiring young artists. Thank goodness that didn't happen to you!

Carolina Moon Arts Studio said...

I'm wondering if Henri was thinking simplicity in the concept which would allow for a vast range of complexity on the canvas.

Kathy said...

Hi Carolyn - yes, indeed! I agree.

PAMO said...

Carolyn- I think your statement about simplicity in concept was very profound!! Thank you!
Pam