The Consequences of No Horizon
Part III: Wall with Objects OR Wallpaper
Paintings and drawings are flat, two-dimensional surfaces. If an artifice of the third dimension is created there are two choices. In order to deal with the inherent two-dimensionality of canvas or paper an artist can... (1) create a box, or landscape, by using a ground defined by a horizon, or (2) hang forms from a flat wall (the wall being defined by obvious positioning of the forms on the wall). There is third way to deal with two-dimensional canvas or paper: Float flat objects in an amorphous space. This third option, flat on flat, is always unsatisfactory. It is decoration. It is merely wallpaper. It cannot be art! Decoration is nice and pleasant, it may fill a void on a wall, but it cannot speak deeply of the human spirit, complex as the human spirit is, with intellect and emotion.
Joan Miró tried doing both; he made paintings with the artifice of the third-dimension, and he made paintings that have flat objects on amorphous backgrounds. Miró's paintings with the third dimensional deceit mostly succeed, Miró's flat on flat paintings mostly fail (they are decorative and may fit well as decorations in a home, nothing more). Below, look at two paintings by Joan Miró. I admit, the second painting, which is flat on flat, exhibits Miró's effort to define the ground by using uneven areas of paint (in this way a viewer, at least, is cognizant the painting is on a flat surface).
Henri Matisse did both. He created flat on flat works (e.g., his late paper cuts), but most of his career was spent making drawings and paintings with an exuberant questioning of color and three-dimensional space. I will discuss Matisse's work tomorrow.
In yesterday's drawing I experimented with the lack of a horizon line; however there is an obvious horizon and an obvious ground.
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