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Sunday, October 30, 2011

The practice of seeing (Part 1)

I read a very interesting article the other day in ARTNews, November 2011. The title of the article is “Not-So-Still Lifes: Thiebaud on Morandi.” In the article Wayne Thiebaud talks about the good lessons that can be learned from looking at Giorgio Morandi’s work such as the “wonder of intimacy and the love of long looking.” Spatially, there is something not quite right in Morandi’s still lifes and, also, dare I say it, in some of Thiebaud’s. This is what makes them more interesting than a traditional still life.

Thiebaud goes on to describe more of “long looking,” “of staring but at the same time moving the eye, finding out what’s really there, and there are so many things that are subtle and may look like something at one moment but not the next.”

Theibaud two cheese cubes webWayne Thiebaud, Two Cheese Cubes, 2011

Thiebaud also says that Morandi’s work was hard to appreciate initially, “These didn’t come to you, you had to go to them.”

 image Giorgio Morandi; Natura morta (still life), 1956, oil on canvas, 30.6 x 40.8 cm

Thiebaud goes on to talk about the formal qualities of light such as highlights, core and cast shadows and how to replicate or use these strategically as a way of determining volume. With Morandi’s work, and also I believe with Thiebaud’s paintings, he says, “the light is created through creating energy, by the juxtaposition of colors and the interaction of those colors to create light quite different from the modulation of volumetric rendering.” Other artists who use light by “way of color” are Bonnard, Matisse or Vuillard. The light can be discussed as “eternal or symbolic or a light that is sustained by energy.”

image

condiment bowls web thiebaud

Giorgio Morandi; Natura Morta (above), Wayne Thiebaud, Condiment Bowls, 2008 (below)

We are currently working with color to express the illusion of space two dimensionally in my classes. This article could not have come at a better time.

More on this article in my next post.