Sunday, April 01, 2007

A Few Steps back

Yesterday I chose to ignore all five invitations to Easter Sunday church service I received in the mail and chose instead to go to The Getty. After watching about 30 seconds of a BBC documentary about the Westboro Baptist Church, I know I made the right decision on how to spend my Sunday; and I shall speak no more on the subject this fine evening.

The highlight piece of the trip (in my opinion) was Cross in the Mountains by Caspar David Friedrich. The picture doesn't do it justice; a lot of the shadow detail that you see in the original piece is missing in the image. It's hard to believe this beautiful but innocuous piece was criticized in its day for putting more serious religious subject matter in a landscape piece.

The downer exhibit (again, in my opinion) was Wald by Gerhard Richter. The paintings (if you can call them that) are supposed to bring out emotions one feels while in a forest. I suppose it's supposed to be a experimental art, and I have no problem with experimental art. For example, sculptors sometime between the 15th and 17th century experimented with compositions which would look good when viewed from any angle. And this painting was a study of this particular model, never meant to be shown in a gallery but a work of art in its own right. These experiments show talent and the artist's skill.

So why didn't I like Ricter's art? Because it didn't show his skill. He may be the most talented artist in human history, capable of creating art which would throw me into convulsions of ecstasy. Or he could be a retarded three year old with a paint squeegee. I can't tell from looking at the paintings he exhibited. On the other hand, I can look at the brush strokes of Cross in the Mountains or the details in the bust of Emperor Caracalla and see the artist's skill.

But what the hell do I know about art? If you can explain to me the skill involved in painting with a squeegee, I'll listen and possibly re-evaluate my opinion.


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