Saturday, December 03, 2005

A book of beauty called "Journey through the Ice Age" by Paul G. Bahn (writer) and Jean Vertan (photographer) has excellent photos and words about cave paintings and rock carvings and such like. It's the kind of book that reminds of what's good and interesting about humans.

This book clues me in that it is no longer the done thing to call cave paintings and all that "art" because we don't know why people made it. The idea is that "art" implies an aesthetic intention. The intention of these long ago people might have been religious, magic, community building, or some intention we can't imagine.

That line of thought implies that artists now have only aesthetic intentions and none of those other kinds of intentions

They certainly had better talk like they only have aesthetic intentions if they want to get taken seriously in the heady halls of power.

I had never heard of Helen Frankenthaler when I turned a corner in the LA County Museum of Art and walked into a room full of her paintings and was bowled by blessings.

I could feel the skilled, powerful blessing she'd used as she put the paint on the canvas and I could feel the blessing still happening live as the molecules of paint still enjoyed each other.

The air of the room was alive with blessing between the paintings.

Helen Frankenthaler paintings look like layers of liquid color beside and on top of each other.

The layers look much more liquid and freer than oil paint usually does because

1. She dilutes the oil paint a lot with turpentine so it actually is more liquid.

2. She flicks the paint onto untreated canvas, canvas left as fabric so the liquid can soak in and bleed freely. In the usual oil painting, the canvas is treated with gesso so it is more of a hard surface.

Helen Frankenthaler has said if you look at her paintings and can see first she did this and then she did that, that's a failed painting. She throws out the ones that look like that.

It has to look like it all happened now, the splash, the flow, the colors kissing now.

I felt the now in a raw good way when I first saw her work. The now continued from when she made it to when I saw it and continues on. When I think about these paintings I can still feel them being on the planet I'm on; I feel the point of it all more. I'm lucky to be on this planet with her paintings and with the cave paintings and many different marks of many intentions as we spin and zoom through space