Tag Archives: art

Il museo del mondo (Melania Mazzucco)

Sono nel periodo di letture a tema artistico.

Ringraziamo il cielo che ci sono scrittori che scrivono di questo tema in modo comprensibile, come fa la Mazzucco, che ti fa venire la curiosità di entrare nei musei (o almeno di guardare le foto delle opere in internet), e mandiamo a quel paese tutti i critici che sporcano la carta con frasi incomprensibili al preciso scopo di allontanare le masse dall’arte.

In questo libro, la Mazzucco prende in considerazione solo di pittura che lei ha visto dal vivo e per la quale nutre il desiderio di rivederla.

Ecco, quando certe persone mi chiedono perché leggo tanto, non posso certo nominare la bellezza di un libro come questo, perché… beh, perché non ha uno scopo pratico. Non mi serve per applicare quello che imparo nel mio lavoro di tutti i giorni e non guadagnerò nulla dal sapere come si chiama un quadro di Bosch o di Georgia O’Keeffe, eppure, ogni tanto, ho bisogno di dedicarmi a qualcosa che non abbia applicazioni pratiche.

Non per denigrare le liste della spesa, per carità. Le liste della spesa sono utilissime quando devi andare al supermercato, ma nella vita di tutti i giorni, ormai, le conversazioni si riducono a un elenco di informazioni o di commenti che si fermano alla superficie delle cose.

Se passo davanti ad un bar e vedo delle persone sedute all’interno, non mi soffermo a pensarci. Fermarmi a pensare su quelle due persone potrebbe perfino essere controproducente nell’economia delle mie giornate.

Ma se guardo un quadro di Hopper in cui un uomo e una donna sono al bancone e non si parlano, allora mi faccio delle domande. Perché non si parlano? Perché si sono trovati là? Come se ne andranno? Insieme o separati? Siamo sicuri che tutte queste domande, un giorno, non possano tornarmi utili se applicate alla mia vita o a quelli che mi stanno vicini?

L’arte dovrebbe aiutarci a guardare sotto la superficie, e mai come oggi ce n’è bisogno.

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On being an artist: two books by Julia Cameron

Julia Cameron

Julia Cameron

The Artist’s Way + The Right To Write: I bought these two books online, from an used bookstore in the USA, and to my surprise, even beyong ocean Readers like to make notes and underline sentences on the pages. Quite normal, you may think, but I was surprised in discovering this. Happily surprised, albeit I wonder who can be the person who hold “The Artist’s Way” in his hands before me; something tells me that it was a woman… anyway!

I must admit that the topic and the contents of these two essays are almost the same ones. Maybe the structure and the tips are slightly different, but the main issue is the same. Someone could claim that they are the same book in different words…

The tools she suggests to use are two: the morning pages and the artist’s date.

The first one pushes you to handwrite 3 pages first thing in the morning, no matter what, just write before the inner censor wakes up.

The second one asks you to reserve one date a week for your inner artist: it is up to you what to do. A cocnert, a museum, some CD music, a walk in the wood or a visit to a brook… you can choose. The important thing is that you love what you do, that you are alone and that this date feeds your curiosity.

The effect of these two tools, says Cameron, should be visible in few weeks.

One effect can be sincronicity: a significant coincidente (do you remember Jung?). This can have nothing to do with your artistic life, but it should show you the power of writing. I was strongly curios about this matter and throughout the web I found experiences about it, but nobody goes deep in the matter, they simply report coincidences. Of course, if you put your attention on a certain topic, you will find out a lot of coincidences: this is just consciousness. But will this change your life, as Cameron asserts?

In my opinion, although I noticed some sincronicities, I believe that the author stressed too much the aspect of magic.

Let’s simply name the thing as it is: attention. This is a powerful gun we often miss in our life, taken as we are by habits and complaints.

Attention, then, leads to action. And Action, yes, it can change your life.

Anyway, these two books are useful to help you cultivating and enhancing your attention, the first ring of the chain. Therefore they are welcome.

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The Lady and the Unicorn – Tracy Chevalier

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I started reading this book a couple of years ago, but I stopped after one of the first scenes, when the daughter of the rich customer tried to make sex with the Painted under a table, just after having exchanged few words. But I began again to read it in these days because I am exploring through other books the art worlds: this novel is made up, but I know that Tracy Chevalier is an accurate history researcher in this branch.

Actually she clearly showed the links between the artists (in this case, a painter) and the craftsmen (in this case, the weaver, the Lissier who prepares the arras), but also between the customer (the rich bourgeois) and the merchant, and she explained the odd rules that bound the Bruxelles craftsmen that worked in the guilds.

What I understood from this novel is how the artist role was transparent in thos years (end of XV century) and far away from ours. Nicolas Des Innocents, the painter, is not so famous and he doesn’t consider his art as something miracolous or divine: it is just the way he earns money. He must obey the client and the merchant and the weavers do not consider him like a very important person, except for the fact that he comes from Paris.

I appreciated that the painter did not “compromise” the virtue of the customer’s daughter: it was more realistic that he went with prostitutes and the blind daughter of the weaver! As all those successions were made up by the writer, I like that they are not too exhagerated!

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Art worlds – Howard S. Becker

imageThis is a manual, with the purpose to teach to college students how an art world works. You won’t find here the definition of art or art work (that was, at the end, the reason why I am reading books about this subject), nor you will find deep explanations of specific contemporary art experiences or modern painting; even less you will read about the reasons of high or low evaluations of some art works. But this book, on a sociological point of view, will let you see better how an art world works.

We usually think that an art work is born through the mind of an artist, a special and talented person, who feels the need to put his emotions and fears and intuitions into his paint, photo, sculpture; but the reality is far more than this.

Art works could not exhist without a net of people who influence and help the artist, who evaluate the work, who define if it is art, who put them into museum, who keep them safe from the perils of the time, of the politics, of the wars, of the forgetfulness; art works could not live without people who sell it, and, above all, without a public who enjoy it (and most folk and naive art realities have a lot of problem on this point of view).

This is the part that enlightned me the most: the part where Becker explains how an art work can die.

A painting, a theatre show or a book can die because of censorship or, even worst, because of material destructions and prohibitions, of course; despite this, anyway, this is not a true death, because it is still possible that someone remembers some prohibited poems or, for example, keeps a picture of the painting.

The true death of a work art is forgetfulness.

After all, I think that an artists feels the need to do what he does for one big reason (among other minor ones): because he/she wants to leave something that survives after him. Because he/she feels that he/she won’t live forever and feel unbearable that all his/her thinking, emotions, fears and intuitions will die with him. This doesn’t mean that his/her artwork will always transmit his/her real intentions and message, because interpretation will change with time, but there will still been something that will witness his/her life on this earth. This is why forgetfulness kills artworks: because it kills the very first reason of its Birth.

We need to leave a sign because we know that we are mortal. Is this why animals do not create art? Well, after this reading, I have a big doubt: I fear that if there would be someone who decides that a painting made by a monkey is art, that blot could be considered art… but only if that “someone” is known as an expert, only if there is someone else who is ready to take that blot into his collection, and if there is a net of people who is ready to handle that work like an art work.

Well, I am exhagerating, of course.

Or not?

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“You can do it with everything” Contemporary art Language – Angela Vettese

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The aim of the author is to show that contemporary art works on a collage base. But the collage can be made with everything: paper, metals, plastic, words, movies, ready-made, other art works, and so on.

The collage has its own meanings: it is often light (compared to heaviness of Sixties’ art) and one of its main feature is the transitoriness. It gives you the idea of a fragmented reality and it often requires interactivity, as if the public is a little piece of the whole collage.

Contemporary art is often a developing process, not an object, and here you see the frequent use of -ing form (happening, dripping…).

I found particularly interesting the part that explains how some artists put their works in very hard-to-reach places (for instance in the desert, far away from autoroutes or airports); with a two-faces purpose: to show a critic to institutional art places and to educate the public, that must be ready to make some efforts to go there to “admire” the art work.
The result? Very little public. Anyway… I appreciate the attempt.

At the end, Angela Vettese try to sum up the direction of contemporary art. It seems that this art doesn’t want to show the author anymore. The point is not the subject anymore, it must be something else; the society, maybe, with its trends and fears. Maybe this is only modesty. Or, more probable, loneliness.

The problem of this essay is that Vettese wants to put too many examples to explain what she is telling. They are so many, that I doubt that the average reader knows all artists and art works that she mentions. And the book cannot show a picture for each art work, otherwise it would have been 20 times longer.
As a result, I think that this book is an essay for contemporary art lovers, not for someone who wants to get an idea of this odd world.

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