Thursday, 24 October 2013

All this useless beauty

Here's a painting, hanging in the National Gallery, Cuyp's River Landscape with Horseman and Peasants, from around 1650.  It's bloody good.  There's skill, talent, technique, art in every brushstroke.  Nobody ever looked at it and said "my 8 year old daughter could have done that".  Here's a few words from the National Gallery website:
The golden light flooding the mirrored lake gives an air of serenity and calm; how peaceful it would be to join the horseman and herders in this moment.

The beauty of the scene has not gone un-noticed by the gentleman on horseback, who turns his head towards the distant hills to feel the glow of the evening sunrays on his face. Despite the directional gestures of the herder next to him, the docile cows seem quite happy to rest a while here too.

Such moments in life are fleeting. Soon enough the herd of sheep bustling along the road and the frantic flapping of the water fowl’s wings as they rise to escape the hunter’s shot will disturb the peace. But this idyllic moment is framed forever in brambles and birch trees.

Was the view real, or a daydream? Did this spire strewn town by the water ever exist?

Andy Warhol created Brillo boxes in 1964.  He had wooden boxes made, painted, screen printed, (or Gerald Malanga and Billy Name painted and screen printed).  Then they were displayed in the stable Gallery. It was new, it was different. The Art World said Wow. Copying/recreating the display of 100 Brillo Boxes would probably be less difficult than copying/recreating/forging the Cuyp painting.   For a start the 100 Brillo Boxes pictured above are not by Warhol but by Bidlo.   Follow the link for more info on this than you could ever need.   So what is the damn point?  How do you frame a definition of art which includes Brillo Boxes and River Landscape?

This morning I was sitting on a boat, tied to a pontoon, enjoying an unscheduled break from life.  A sudden movement made me look up.  A pied wagtail had flown up from the pontoon, planning on flying over the boat.  It seemed surprised to see me and hovered in the air - for the briefest of moments, but at that moment  when the pied wagtail and I shared the same space, time stood still. I mumbled the word "blessed" and the pied wagtail flew off.  I took the above photo and contained in it is the memory of the wagtail, the spirit of the wagtail. 

The snap taken on a mobile phone has none of the skill of the Cuys above, has none of the philosophy behind Warhol's Brillo Boxes.  But it exists to capture a moment in time, a special moment in time.  I could look at it all day.

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