Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Decisions People Like Me are Called Upon to Make

Honestly, you can't even imagine half of them.  Take this Wesselmann painting from several posts below ...

Now take this Damien Hirst dot painting.  Don't be confused by the visible background; concentrate instead on the relationship between the dots and the edge of the canvas ...

And this one (as per above instructions) ...
Me?  I like a little space so the forms can breath.  Which means I don't like the first Hirst painting nearly as much as the second (I say this as a way to make my point about the top painting.  I don't actually like either of these dot paintings, preferring by a wide margin the ones with two or three hundred dots rather than a dozen or so).

[Brief aside: To me, the whole idea of the dot paintings is their relationship to Jackson Pollock, not their relationship with simple geometry.]  

The point being, if it were me instead of Wesselmann, I would have added an inch or two of blue on the left side of the image so we could enjoy her chin without all that tension.

I am, however, in love with that blue/black Georgia O'Keefe background.  That seems like an act of brilliance to me.

Also worth noting is the general painterly idea that if you have some pleasing color on one side of the image -- in this case the blue of her eye-shadow -- you can make the whole painting feel more harmonious by throwing a bit of the same color on the other side.  Thus the streak of blue coming down the left edge.

I do it all the time.  Witness the blue next to Big Wayne's nostril, then in his opposite cheek, then along his jawline. Kind of pulls the whole thing together.  And just so you don't think I'm a pathetic hack, John Constable used to do the same thing all the time.  And he was really good.

All that said, what I really like about the Wesselmann painting is the barely noticeable wedge of dark green at the top left corner, between the blue and the black, and how that green is reflected on her forehead on the right side.  It's easier to see if you double-click.  Same idea as the blue, but stealthy.  Subversive might be another word.

This, of course, is just one man's opinion.


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