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??