Monday, November 15, 2010
(Piet Mondrian, Apple Tree in Flower, 1912)
Sometimes there’s talk of an artist’s work being “in transition.” My take on this expression is that it means that the work is neither quite here nor there. It’s evolving. An artist’s work is always evolving, yes, but sometimes a direction is not quite ripened, and that’s what I think they mean (he, my visitor last week, means) by “in transition.”
“In transition” can be very beguiling because it’s searching. You can see the artist’s struggles, experiments and also her failures. “In transition” is vulnerable. After “in transition” comes another phase. Often I hear the word “resolved” to describe it. “Resolution” is confident, it’s a problem solved. A piece or series is “resolved” when a direction is settled upon. This is exciting, of course, because of the depth that can then be explored.
Mondrian is a good example. First his work evolved from traditional landscapes to schematic trees. We could call this the “transitional” phase. Then he came to settle on his iconic grids. Once this was “resolved” he explored and explored. And each work presents its own “resolution.”
Two things: it's stimulating to see that early development from tree to grid. And some artists adopt the transition as a "position." Kippenberger called this mobility the "running gag." More on this another time.