Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I expound

(Roy Lichtenstein, Bread and Jam, 1963)

My Monday post is murky to me. I jumped from irreverence, to attitude, to life approach, to detachment, to surface appeal, to intimation of attitude. Let me attempt to deepen the sense of some terms.

By irreverence, I don’t mean a big fuck you (although that is a form of irreverence). I mean un-preciousness. I mean standing out on a limb. I mean having an opinion, maybe unpopular. In all likelihood, exquisite is the opposite of irreverent. Some drawings are exquisite, some are irreverent.

Irreverence is one kind of attitude. Attitude doesn’t necessarily mean a seventeen-year-old thinking she’s got it. Attitude really simply means stance. Artists do take a stance whether they know it or not. In art school they call it a “position” (gawd).

Some artist’s go for outward expression, whereas others go for cooler observation: sometimes this manifests itself in the ways they lead their lives, sometimes it’s in their work, sometimes it's in both. In any case, both are attitudes. Someone like Lichtenstein brings passion to detachment. (Aside: his very detached drawings chock full of individual markings are on view now at the Morgan Library and are a must see).

Some artists are interested in immediate visual communication, which can be very appealing: sumptuous color, enticing shapes. But behind sensual charm can lay (lie? I don’t understand this verb) irreverence. Were not the Impressionists, for example, the scandal of the 1860s and 70s? This form of irreverence may be towards a context, or it may be in the quality of the mark making.

And that, my friends, is today's vocabulary lesson.


Max Stevens said...

Very interesting. So how would you describe your attitude as an artist? Perhaps the answer to this question requires another post.

Molly Stevens said...

Good idea! You're becoming my editor.