We’re all in this together…

“The creative act is not formed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act.”

Marcel Duchamp

This quote I ran across reminded me of the recent discussion we’ve had here about showing your work to others or not.

I know that I am always fascinated to see how different people can look at the same piece and have such different reactions and experiences. It’s not just whether they like it or not, but why they do or don’t, what they see in a piece, what it makes them feel or think about, what experiences they’ve had that it reminds them of. I’m sure we’ve all had the experience of being completely surprised at how someone reacts to one of our pieces and that invariably at least slightly changes how we perceive it.

When people react so differently to the same piece the difference obviously is in them. So it makes me wonder exactly what inherent quality or value is in the work without being observed by others. There is, of course, my relationship to the piece. But as it is shared with others, it is evolving, projecting it’s “inner qualifications” into the world, becoming something different than it would have been tucked away in my drawer.

I’ll keep repeating this to myself as I welcome hundreds of people to my studio next month for our Open Studio event…

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11 responses to “We’re all in this together…

  1. The problem with that “making together” observes (justly obeserved) by duchamp is that people have individual (and different) reaction to a art object, as you yourself observed…

    And practically I do not see a well established, unanimously accepted “inherent quality or value” in order to make the value of an art work (and I don’t mean only monetary value but MOSTLY esthetic value) universally recognised…

    I think people “like” or “dislike” a painting (for instance) for very personal and sometimes mysterious reasons. The same motive for which they BUY a painting (supposing the price is in their “range”…)

    I wish I was closer to Northern California… I would have loved to visit yur Studio!

    By the way, I like how you used the mauve over the orange… and you are not at all bad with texture… what I don’t like are the straight lines (but this is just my “mysterious” idiosincrasy…)

  2. That Danu prefers curved lines, is clear, isn’t it? And i don’t believe it is mysterious or idiosomething, Danu is a very sensual person, this is quite obvious, and these senses bombs generally prefer curves.. 🙂
    I like both. But I generally don’t like so much totally vertical or totally horizontal lines (obvious too I think!). In the case of your painting, I like them though, they are a great contrast to the … insect?
    In fact, Bob, this painting would make a wonderful flag for Cornelisland… this is what I immediately thought as I saw it!

    Unlike Danu I am not sure at all that there is not some kind of inherent value. The internet is a good place to make some little experiments in this field. When on some sites you can see the statistics of how many times each painting has been looked, you find out that some (not many) are really much more often looked than others. This still does not say they they are liked, but at least that they attract the eye more than others. This shows that there must be some inherent, objective value. Even if this value “only” represents a collective taste, or a collective memory, or a collective idiosincrazy.
    And when you are at these sites, you can see too that some artists (again only a few) are much more looked than others. And I think this is an objective result, as all the painters there have (at least seem to have) the same background, the same personal art stor, the same difficulties…

    Well, Bob be happy that you will get so many visitors there! I wished I had had so many on my big show!

  3. Danu

    By “inherent quality” I simply mean what the painting is – I wasn’t placing any value judgement of good or bad on it. It gets back to something I discussed a while ago – that a thing changes in some way by being observed (the phenomenological approach). In some way that I’m not sure I can describe, I feel differently about my work that I’ve shown, that I’ve observed how others react to. That experience creates some additional dimension to the work – not better or worse, it has just evolved in some manner.

    I think it is one reason I feel the need to show work – it gives them a little life of their own.

  4. Miki

    I almost didn’t post this piece because I have mixed feelings about it, but Susan really likes it so I honored her opinion by putting it up. So I guess I can blame her if people don’t like it, especially the straight lines! I am a little more of a straight-line, geometric person (does that mean I am not a “sensual” person??) but the point of this piece is, indeed, the contrast of the lines with the “insect”. Which, of course, was the result of a random pouring of ink to start the piece.

    The Open Studio event we have here takes place over 4 days (2 successive weekends) so having “hundreds” of people come isn’t really that much each day. Plus, some of them just stop in because they just visited another artist down the street and they feel they might as well come since they are in the neighborhood. It’s always humbling to have someone come into your studio, stand in one place, simply glance around the room and walk out, having spent no more than 30 seconds taking in your entire show! Oh well…

  5. Johannes Itten, one of the teacher-artist from the Bauhaus (collegue with Paul Klee) wrote in a book called ” Le dessin et la forme” about 3 fundamental types of artists (or artist-to-be since he was observing his own students):

    (In french):
    1) materialiste-impressionnable

    2) intelectual-constructif and

    3) spirituel-expressif.

    Without any suggestion that one type is better than the other (it just IS, different) I would think in this type of classification (which I usually abhore) bob is more the intelectual-constructif type (at least in this work)…Miki and probably myself we are more of the spirituel-expressif type, maybe… But just like in psychological types I don”t think there are “pure” types, most of us being a combination with, maybe, a dominant type… So, there is not to say bob isn’t “sensual” or that myself or miki cannot be, in some works, intelectual constructifs…

    I know how it is, bob! I did some “symposium de peinture” last years (and there is a similar kind of event here – it’s called La Grand Viree artistique de L<Estrie – with the public visitind the studios of the artists;) and was appelled by the lack of real interest and even lack of politeness of some “in the public”… I kind of took my revenge drawing their “caricatures”, making sarcastical “cartoons” of them…

  6. Danu

    I agree that each of us has aspects of all three types in us, but that there is at any given time probably a dominant type, as you say. I’d probably agree with your assessment of us also, though I’m not sure what the materialiste-impressionable is.

    I wish I had your ability to draw caricatures! It sounds like a great way to exorcise the demons of an unappreciative audience. Sort of an artist’s voodoo doll…

  7. Again great discussion,…. for me ‘liking’ or ‘disliking’ a work comes down to simply a visceral emotional reaction to it, and not necessarily a first impression, but over a period of time contemplating and looking at it.

  8. It is always interesting to observe people when they look at your work.What are they seeing?Why are they stopping to look at that particular painting (especially if yours is with other paintings) it is the age old question…What makes us like something above all other things, the same as when you are at a classical music concert, you are all hearing the same piece but you have your own experience and view point, so perhaps we are talking about emotion again….better stop before I trip myself up!

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