Tag: art theory

Read More
A black and white photo of Piet Modrian set against one of his colorful yet lesser-known paintings eschewing parallel lines.

Transcendental Interviews: Piet Mondrian on Higher Beings & Inner Fascists

ETHAN PINCH: Some people find your artistic statements a little bewildering.

PIET MONDRIAN: Such as?

PINCH: Well, in 1943 you wrote: ‘Only now I become conscious that my work [sic] has been merely drawing in oil colour. In drawing, the lines are the principal means of expression. In painting, however, the lines are absorbed by the colour planes; but the limitations of the planes show themselves as lines and conserve their great value’.

MONDRIAN: And what’s the problem with that?

PINCH: Well, you’re using terms that are extremely narrow.

MONDRIAN: Perhaps, but the relationships I’m talking about are concrete. I’m pointing out that an apparently confined set of visual propositions is actually doing something.

PINCH: But it doesn’t seem very helpful in the way you’d expect of a normal artist’s statement. […]

Read More
Three side-by-side self-portraits by Jean Siméon Chardin

On Chardin: Greatness in Mediocrity

There’s hardly enough love and understanding for Chardin. It’s not a look that screams ‘genius’ or ‘radicality’. Such might be held against him—his lack of glamour. His ill-preparedness for survival.

Yet Chardin hasn’t been without his share of admirers. The encyclopaedist, Denis Diderot, wrote prolifically on his work. Manet, Braque and Matisse all cite Chardin as a major influence. And Cezanne, in his own typical way, praised him in a letter as an ‘artful devil’.

In life, Chardin was a time-tenured salon academician and businessman, with a permanent residence at the Louvre and a state pension. But he was also, for all his sophistication and studio-training, a functional illiterate who rarely left the city of Paris. There’s little evidence to suggest that he was any kind of intellectual or possessed a coherent aesthetic programme. It would simply appear that he painted what he thought would sell, and what could best showcase his talents. […]