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Archive for August 3rd, 2012

The difference between an image and a snapshot documentation of an object is that the image triggers questions in your mind that go beyond the factual.  When you look at this drawing you don’t just say, I know the name of that plant.  Yes, it’s a variegated philodendron.  If documentation and naming were the point of this exercise, you would move on.  But you don’t.  You keep looking at this thing.  You don’t really know why.  It’s just that the image—that’s what it is—puzzles you, raises questions that you can’t even articulate.  So here you are, you keep looking.

  • You’ll never be able to answer the question of why that leaf at the lover left is sticking up out of nowhere.  But it’s perfect there.
  • Why is the horizon line that defines the black background on the top pointed instead of straight?  It was probably inspired by the corner of the room, though that was cluttered with easels.  It’s an invention of the artist/student and it’s just right.
  • Why did Linné draw the plant full of leaves on the left and bare-stemmed on the right?  He certainly didn’t see that.  Another invention.

All three inventions create tension and counterpoint.  The viewer is suspended (like a gymnast) by the ropes of these dynamics.  Questions will form in the mind, but their grammar will disintegrate.  That’s how art works.

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

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