Art and Technique

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Art and Technique

Postby BadgerJelly on August 17th, 2017, 3:14 am 

Given my attempts to engage about this before think it better to just start my own thread.

The purpose here is to discuss some differences between the "artisan", the "draftsman" and the "artist". As has been said before you would not trust a plumber to perform neural surgery, you'd require some evidence to suggest they are actually capable of performing the job correctly.

Also I will be addressing psychological aspects based on Carl Jung and his comments about art.

I am not particularly interested in what critics say about this or that piece of art no more than I would be interested in someone's opinion of Einstein's Theory of Relativity is they didn't possess at least a basic understanding of mathematics or physics.

So here we are to address the differences between technique and style, practiced and honed skill, and unpracticed and inaccurate approximations.

It should be apparent that each of us has a certain ability to look at what is before us and replicate it on a piece of paper or on a canvas. With time and dedication we can all achieve a certain proficient level of ability, although it will come more naturally to some more than others, and some may never really be able to achieve the level of skill as others.

The ability to replicate what is before our eyes in this manner is merely replication. This is not art in any way unless we actually decide upon the scene set before and carefully choose from where to capture it (much like a photographer would). So it is quite possible for someone who is not particularly proficient at this kind of replication to still possess artistic abilities that would surpass those who are very skilled at replication yet lack an "artistic" eye. It is also equally true to say that one lacking in technique, but in possession of an artistic eye will also struggle to produce anything of great artistic quality although they will at least be able to recognize it and practice their craft in order to better present their artistry.

We can also think of this in a musical sense. One need not compose a piece of music in order to be able to perform it in an originally artistic manner, but one would most certainly require some technical ability in order to perform it in the first place. So to some degree we can allow that taking some piece of art (of whatever medium) and reproducing it with a certain alteration/expression can be called artistic. We see this over and over in the music industry where old songs are brought back and "covered" (often badly, but sometimes they surpass the original.)

Now let us move onto things like Picasso and Pollock. What we have here is something quite different. Picasso's work does not present any real technical ability that would surpass most art students I imagine. We can then say that he would have to possess a high level of artistic quality in order to surpass this flaw, or we would at least expect him to hone his skill (which I see no evidence of, so he was either lazy or incapable of producing a well composed replication). Either way he is lagging behind genuinely skilled artists and it is then a question of judging if his lack in this area is overcome by his, let us loosely call it, "creativity". Personally some of his pieces a nice to look at but no more so than anything else. I don't personally see much quality in his work.

As for Pollock I have not seen anything from his work that shows me he was an accomplished draftsman, that he could look up and replicate his view with precise and practiced technique. That said he obviously shows an understanding of perspective and plays around with this. His splatters of paint to me are not anything I couldn't produce myself quite easily so I am not that taken aback by them at all.

On a personal note I think what is being expressed here (although probably not with intention) is something about a longing for chaos from which to bring order. Today we live surrounded by straight lines and block-like constructs. Yet one can gaze endlessly into a flickering fire and be hypnotized and relaxed by the chaotic movement, or by watching ocean waves, or rivers flow, clouds pass by, etc. It is this disorder that we kind of look for in Pollock's spattered paint. It is pretty much an unconscious expression.

Jung makes some very good comments about all of this too. He even had a friend of his say he should publish his "Black Book" as a work of fiction and was told he was a great artist. He protested, after being slightly seduced by the idea, and said it was merely stream of consciousness, a flickering of partially ordered imagine and symbols presented as personas. Basically meaning that he was not the artist because he did not produce it purposefully. In many of his studies with various patients he used various techniques to help them express themselves. The most telling was through asking them to paint. In this respect he refers to Picasso and Pollock as expressing something akin to a mental break or schizophrenia.

In my eyes Dali is superior to both Picasso and Pollock. He was obviously an accomplished draftsman and had a great deal of imagination and creativity with which to express dramatic symbols combined with technique and emotional expression. Van Gogh too made some very expressive works but I don't see anything that points at real technical skill, although apparently his eyesight hindered him, and style was unique enough to draw attention (Starry, Starry Night is beautiful become of its emotion rather than its technique).

I have also had this discussion on writing forums to some degree about the quality of literature today. It saddens me that people just want pop-fiction, not something of true artistic quality. I find it very hard to read fiction now because a great deal of it just doesn't dig deep enough for me. They mostly seem to be poor attempts at making pop-psychology, although I am not against reading as being a means of relaxing and being entertained, too much of it I find repetitive and lacking in artistic quality. The writers seem to lazily stick to a tried and tested method, to work to a deadline, in order to bring in the money. Stephen King's The Dream Catcher was shockingly bad. I actually got about 20 pages from the end and put the book down because I simply didn't care because the whoel thing was a huge cliché, merely a façade of a novel. The movie was at least entertaining to a degree and the ending was not a spoiler.

Then there is Clive Barker. I really like him even though the first things I read were badly written (technical quality not great) the creativity and symbolism were very intriguing. His later work improved in technique dramatically, he at least didn't rest on his laurels! Galilee is a very interesting novel and remained a favourite of mine for some time.

I have also had this discussion about poetry too. In poetry the discussion is much easier online for obvious reasons. I remain adamant that the poet is the real judge of his own work. I am not adept and only uinderstand some basic techniques but I do possess an natural ability which I hined when I was young, and often do, because I like the euphonic quality of words and I have a very open and metaphorical way of expressing and intricating themes. I do not understand all of the technical jargon but others have pointed out things I've done and what it is called that I didn't know about. I am always fascinated by interpretations of poems and you won't shift me from saying if the poet meant to express something and fails, then the poem is a failure. I am not in the group saying "it is all open to interpretation", although if the poet left the poem open to different interpretations then they achieved their rather ambigious "purpose".

In writing long pieces of poetry I also really enjoy making poems that fall out of obscurity and disjointedness into more rhythmic and symmetrical forms. I really enjoy stark contrasts, and this extends to most of what I like. An example you may be familiar with is the song Paranoid Android by Radiohead, it chops and changes around in tempo, style and mood.
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Re: Art and Technique

Postby Eclogite on August 17th, 2017, 6:59 am 

I was reading your well constructed piece with interest and general agreement until I came to this passage that stopped me dead in my tracks.

"Now let us move onto things like Picasso and Pollock. What we have here is something quite different. Picasso's work does not present any real technical ability that would surpass most art students I imagine. We can then say that he would have to possess a high level of artistic quality in order to surpass this flaw, or we would at least expect him to hone his skill (which I see no evidence of, so he was either lazy or incapable of producing a well composed replication). Either way he is lagging behind genuinely skilled artists and it is then a question of judging if his lack in this area is overcome by his, let us loosely call it, "creativity". Personally some of his pieces a nice to look at but no more so than anything else. I don't personally see much quality in his work."

I am no fan of Picasso, but your observations here appear to totally lack foundation. It is as if you have never looked at one of his works. The employment of multiple perspectives, the transformation of fluid reality into rigid geometric shapes, the balance (and sometimes the imbalance) of composition, the selected palette, all speak of a consumate artist. Could most art students mimic this? Perhaps today some might achieve the appearance of doing so, but then they wouldn't be the first. Part of Picasso's reputation is -rightly - based upon that originality.

Since I am not a great fan of Picasso I know nothing of any of his "conventional" work. I wonder if you feel the same about van Gogh as you do about Picasso. Critics of van Gogh, in his lifetime, made much the same remarks of his work as you have of Picasso.

I mention this because I am also, for the most part, left indifferent by van Gogh's work, but I do admire some of his early "conventional" work. In particular I am thinking of some paintings of cherry blossoms. These show that he had the technical skill that, to the untrained eye, might appear to be absent from his later work. I suspect the same to be true of Picasso, but stand ready to be corrected.

I am unable to proceed reading your OP until we reach some resolution on what seems to me to be an egregious error on your part.

(Good move starting a separate thread and a pleasure to read something intelligible, even if I disagree with part of it.)
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Re: Art and Technique

Postby MrMikeludo on August 17th, 2017, 9:16 am 

Eclogite:

"I am no fan of Picasso, but your observations here appear to totally lack foundation. It is as if you have never looked at one of his works. The employment of multiple perspectives - speak(s) of a consumate artist..."


How so?
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Re: Art and Technique

Postby MrMikeludo on August 17th, 2017, 9:22 am 

Eclogite:

Critics of van Gogh, in his lifetime, made much the same remarks of his work as you have of Picasso.


Were they wrong, or were they right?

And, why, then, if Van Gogh NEVER sold a SINGLE picture in his life time, do they, now, sell for hundreds of millions of dollars?

I mean, did they find some "hidden" Van Goghs, that the world never knew existed, are THOSE the ones now selling for hundreds of millions of dollars?

And, do you, personally, own any art?
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Re: Art and Technique

Postby MrMikeludo on August 17th, 2017, 9:26 am 

Eclogite:

In addition, in regards to Van Gogh, which do you think came first: The chicken or the egg?

And, why do you suppose that chicken, Van Gogh, actually chose to "cross the street," and/or commit suicide?
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Re: Art and Technique

Postby BadgerJelly on August 17th, 2017, 10:46 am 

Eco -

I will stand corrected when I see a sketch or painting by him that shows an ability to capture depth and perspective. I have found a couple of paintings that are average in skill, but are very moving, they are really good. The cubist stuff has its own fascination too but I would never say it is the work of a highly skilled painter.

In the same manner we could refer to musicians. Some may lack "skill", but the skill is only part of the exposition. With Picasso I am not that taken with him although I do understand the historical context and for that I think he is elevated.

Van Gogh I like. I like Monet and Degas too. I am not by any means knowledgeable of all art.

There are some people that will like his stuff no matter what. I like some of it. My point was I don't see a great deal of skill in his work.

The employment of multiple perspectives, the transformation of fluid reality into rigid geometric shapes, the balance (and sometimes the imbalance) of composition, the selected palette, all speak of a consumate artist.


Yes, I know the painting you are talking about. I still would say Dali surpasses it and is more creative as well as skilled.

I have always been a fussy customer. I think Mona Lisa is pretty dull, although it is well done. Some of the best paintings I've seen have been hanging in obscure galleries more often than not. It is quite possible my tastes are not refined enough, or it might just be down to taste.

I wouldn't pay more than $1000 for Mona Lisa, I wouldn't even buy it. I would pay $1000 for Degas, because I REALLY like it. For something speculator and grandiose like Monet's Water Lillies I would pay probably a few thousand. Owning originals doesn't interest me though if I have to use a magnified glass to tell the difference.

Attaching monetary value to such things seems to kind of defeat the point of them in my mind.

I would also add that Wuthering Heights is an awful novel. Strangely the female of the species tend to love it and most guys I know share my sentiments. That said I do appreciate some of the prose, but the whole story didn't work for me. I hated both Heathcliff and Kathy, finding them shallow and childish people who I just couldn't bring myself to sympathise with. Jane Eyre though, although not my cup of tea, was more involved and readable.

I am sure there are many things that are subjective. I am not saying either Picasso, or whatever Bronte sister it was, lack skill. I am saying compared to others they just don't hold up for me. Some of Picasso's stuff is good, I cannot bring myself to say they are all amazing (sadly I never got the chance to see them for myself in the flesh and see what all the fuss was about. I was also disappointed by some of Degas' stuff, but the one's that were good were VERY good. They touched me.

There are a couple of painting hanging in a Manchester gallery too that I can remember right now. The small painting called "The Scapegoat", by William Holman Hunt, was one that really sticks in my mind probably because we studied it in art class in secondary school and I actually got to see it and did like it. There was another one of a farmer trying to get his cattle across a bridge in a violent storm. I sat looking at that one for quite some time and used to nip in every time I passed to gaze at it and a couple of others (I wouldn't waste my time gazing at Mona Lisa in the same manner.)
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Re: Art and Technique

Postby TheVat on August 17th, 2017, 1:09 pm 

When I was in London, I saw a lot of Turner paintings and was impressed by his technical virtuosity, as well as sheer brilliance.

In a completely different style, I join many Americans in my liking of Edward Hopper.
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Re: Art and Technique

Postby dandelion on August 26th, 2017, 2:15 am 

These examples may be interesting here. One of these works occurred when Picasso was 14, 1896 “First Communion”,-
https://uploads4.wikiart.org/images/pab ... n-1896.jpg

and another when aged 15, 1897, “Science and Charity”, - https://uploads8.wikiart.org/images/pab ... y-1897.jpg
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Re: Art and Technique

Postby BadgerJelly on August 26th, 2017, 2:40 am 

dandelion » August 26th, 2017, 2:15 pm wrote:These examples may be interesting here. One of these works occurred when Picasso was 14, 1896 “First Communion”,-
https://uploads4.wikiart.org/images/pab ... n-1896.jpg

and another when aged 15, 1897, “Science and Charity”, - https://uploads8.wikiart.org/images/pab ... y-1897.jpg


Very interesting. Was that the height of his technical ability? Did he not progress further?

I am sure many people love Picasso. I don't, and it is not like I revere "replication" over expression, imagination and emotional content. I generally lean toward abstract art rather than symmetrical compositions. I believe this is because within "chaos" we see the heart of nature beating. There is something about "white noise" that transfixes people, and if an artist manages to accomplish the production of such "chaos", to "replicate" it with intent, then that is where a see something very special.

Often I like the contrast between symmetry and disorder. The symmetry is more symmetrical when held side-by-side with disorder. It is this contrariness which I feel "good art" captures (at least that is how I define it.)

note: I would not consider "beauty" to be essential to "art". This is because the lack fo beauty is seen in its absence. This emotional exploration is what I find fascinating about aesthetics and value in general.
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Re: Art and Technique

Postby Serpent on August 26th, 2017, 10:03 am 

BadgerJelly » August 26th, 2017, 1:40 am wrote:
Very interesting. Was that the height of his technical ability? Did he not progress further?

To where? That's as technically excellent as most famous classical artists ever reached in their lifetime. They had a set repertoire of subjects and themes: what was admired in their social circles and rewarded by their patrons and public.

You have to keep in mind that art doesn't exist in a cultural vacuum. It reflects the world-view, political climate, beliefs, tastes, mood and interests of its time. Artists, too, are both products and chroniclers of their period.

Picasso, and other artists of his generation, didn't want to keep going in that same direction - it didn't feel like progress to them. Having achieved the level of skill they required , they went off on a tangent, to express something different, something that had meaning for them. These guys hung out in the same cafes, endlessly discussing, arguing, deliberating, analyzing their intentions, one another's work, their vision and ideas. Just like the poets.

It is not mandated anywhere that each particular artist must appeal to all the viewers of his or her work, nor that every work should appeal to all of their fans. It's okay for them and members of the public to have personal preferences; there is paint enough to go around. If you don't find a picture attractive, there are plenty of others to look at.
If you don't find a whole school of art attractive, it's most likely because it does not reflect your own times, mind-set and world-view. Most of the work from every period disappears; only a the ones that still speak persuasively to the next generation and the one after that make it through a century; only a few outstanding examples are still admired five hundred years later.
(They all, or nearly all, learned the craft as painstakingly as any surgeon. We see exhibited in art galleries only the later work for which they became famous, not the student work they left behind. So we mostly don't know how proficient they were technically.)
We do not know how long Van Gogh and Picasso will be notable.
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