"Shifting Picture" is the title of Peter Schjeldahl's article about Willem de Kooning's retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. It appears in the September 26, 2011 issue of the The New Yorker magazine. This title is apt for my work too. I am in the midst of a shift.
Very apparent in viewing a life's work, a retrospective exhibit, is the time scale of change. Change occurs and sometimes appears drastic, but it happens over years, rather than days or months. Day by day labor brings about change, in minute steps. Often the larger insights are difficult to discern without forced retrospection. One needs to assemble work and observe the differences over time. This is the reason for my day by day blog. It gives me evidence of change, evidence of moving forward. This is important to me, and I wish it were not. The problem of being an artist is one of conflict between the moment and the desire to know more. Knowing more requires structured time utilized to obtain insights and deeper knowledge. The futility of this activity resides in our mortality. The greatest artists defeat futility through ambitious and relentless quest for knowledge, which leads to their most significant work. Willem de Kooning's life work is an example, but so are the the works of Picasso, Matisse, Degas, Monet, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, and many more who worked relentlessly, day by day, in search of meaning deeper than a life limited by mortality. In The New Yorker article Peter Schjeldahl writes, "I rate him [de Kooning] the greatest of American painters, and lesser only than Picasso and Matisse among all artists of the twentieth century." I completely agree. I am very glad this statement is placed in print by Schjeldahl, as it makes me feel not alone with my ideas about quality. Willem de Kooning's work is not "in style." Try looking for a de Kooning reproduction to place on your wall; they are few and far between. This in contrast to the plethora of poster reproductions of Mark Rothko and Joan Miró. This contrast in availability shows quality, and public perception of quality, are very different. Schjeldahl also writes, "The show demolishes a canard that the artist's work declined after the nineteen-fifties. Only his fame did. Out of fashion, and almost to the last, de Kooning made extraordinary art." Willem de Kooning is a major influence on my work. His involvement with the human figure, with light, and with composition, were as intensive as mine. The following sentence, again from Peter Schjeldahl, speaks the spirit I hope my work evokes: "Whenever you look in even the wildest de Kooning you feel securely anchored." I show Willem de Kooning's "Gotham News," from 1955, after my work from yesterday.
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