I went to London to visit some friends this weekend and since they were all signed up for a 10k race and I think of running as the devil which sucks away your heartbeats, thus resulting in an early ending to what would otherwise been of a life of longevity and comfort, I kindly declined and opted instead for the Tate Modern.  With limited time, I stuck to the 2nd floor of the museum and slowly walked through an exhibition of abstract expressionists.  The curation was beautiful and took you through several galleries, all numbered in chronological order, describing what was happening in the art world and what was also going on in the world.  (On a side note, I was really awed by one room that displayed Monet opposite of Pollack next to Rothko - the curator noted how the Impressionists really paved the way for the Abstract Expressionists in the way they moved away from paintings that involve a focal point and instead concentrated on color and mood...a connection I never would have considered on my own when it came to Pollack's work).  Given the timeframe, it's natural that historians should comment on how the grim realities of war found their way into the artwork of the time.  And of course this is not new information to me, but I think I gave it a new consideration. 

America from the point of view of the rest of the world: materialistic, power hungry.  America is huge - easy to be seen as isolationist given the size and location of their country.  Hard for Europeans to wrap their heads around.  Concentration on our own problems and even then, what happens in one state may have little relevance to what's going on in another.

Europeans record their environment differently in their art - Max Beckman and Francis Bacon are far more grim than that of say, Pollack (although DeKooning was versed in showing his grit from time to time...but then  again, he was born in Europe).

And then I read an article today about a man who has spent 30 years writing the perfect book on Vietnam.  The author  served during the conflict and is very much affected by his experiences, having  killed some 20-odd men.  He made an interesting point, that got me to thinking:  the horrors of war are becoming more removed and the author fears the day when a  man can set up his coordinates in a computer in, say, Idaho, and take out a  whole community half-way around the world and go home to his family and sit down  at the table for dinner without ever having to look the enemy (or victim,  depending in the circumstance or point of view) in the eye.   And perhaps that's why American artists of that time don't have the same rawness as that of their foreign counterparts...they just didn't have to experience the same turmoil in (or so near) their land.  They were pretty far removed from it.  They could go to their studio and paint from the perspective of one who never had to look it in the eye. 


08/11/2011 08:34

This is why we are friends. I hate exercise...particularly running AND I love art. Kind of a big deal to me. Sounds like you had a lovely day. Wish I was there with you. ox

08/11/2011 10:02

Plus the fact that we can each eat our body weight in white cupcakes without frosting. And sit happily NOT running to burn it off. I'd rather watch Art21!


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