14 February 2014

Forrest Bess

I am wild about these images. I am only a little familiar with his work, having seen a show many years ago. At that time I remember being so flummoxed by the paintings that I really was thrown off balance. I found them strangely beautiful, and do today even more. Isn't that really what art is for? Isn't it to show us something coherent and yet strange at the same time? I imagine that this painter is in possession of the necessary artistic means (writers call this craft) to take the viewer somewhere mysterious in ourselves. What that is, or where, I cannot say.

I am re-reading Stanley Fish's book How to Write a Sentence. I often read what writers say about  their craft because what they are after is what I am after in painting. And, of course, I don't mean airport books. Writers write about the craft of writing, but painters rarely write about the craft of painting because they are not writers. There are great exceptions: Delacroix, Van Gogh, (I have read both) Motherwell, Klee (which I haven't read) among others. But painters paint, they don't usually write about the experience. And, if they do, I am always cautious. 

From Stanley Fish who writes:
-sentences... are discrete instances of what Walter Pater sought in art, experiences of brilliant intensity that promise "nothing but the highest quality to your moments as they pass and simply for those moments' sake -

Who could describe art more succinctly? 

Fish cites another wonderful example of craft at its best:

'Almost anyone can read with pleasure the sentence in which John Updike tells us what it was like to see Ted Williams hit a home run in his last at bat in Fenway Park on September 28, 1960:
It was in the books while it was still in the sky.

How can one make paintings like this?

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