RE: ART: What Art Is

From: Natasha Vita-More (
Date: Sun May 28 2000 - 14:04:54 MDT

At 02:27 PM 5/28/00 -0500, Bonnie wrote:

>Natasha, what good is there to Pollock's work other than the novelty it
>presented in its time? This is not a rhetorical question. I'd really like
>to know.

Pollock's name is associated with the introduction of the All-over style of
painting which avoids any points of emphasis or identifiable parts within
the whole canvas and therefore abandons the traditional idea of composition
in terms of relations among parts. The design of his painting had no
relation to the shape or size of the canvas -- indeed in the finished work
the canvas was sometimes docked or trimmed to suit the image. All these
characteristics were important for the new American painting which matured
in the late 1940s and early 1950s

>When you view one of his paintings, what goes through your mind?
>Are you emotionally moved? Inspired? Delighted?

Though my mind? -- Freedom on expression, moving beyond boundaries (the
edge of the canvas), and music. Let me explain by way of experience: My
father was an art director for Young & Rubicon in New York City and also a
painter. I spent much of my childhood in museums and galleries as well as
around musical performances. In one house that we lived in, my father
cleared all the furniture from the dining room, and spent several days in
that room painting and listening to music. He was immeasurably inspired by
Pollock and the painting he produced in that room was on the dining room
floor and in the style of Pollock. It was fantastic! Beautiful!

My father was a serious and highly competitive "ad man" in world of
advertising in the most commercially sophisticated city in the world -
Manhattan ("dog eat dog," he used to say.) He felt constricted in that
world, the pressure was enormous. He found freedom in abstract art and in
the style of Pollock: dancing with the paint - swinging his arm in rhythmic
motion as he swirled paint from the paint bucket across the floor -- as an
extended canvas welcoming color, shape and form.

Many years later, when I was working on my final project for an
undergraduate degree, my father had lost a large part of his creativity --
from the many years of pressure. I invited him into my studio to paint
with me. He never felt that freedom of expression again because he worried
to much about whether he *understood* what he was doing, rather than doing
it. As I wrote in another post last night, Ray Kurzweil and Mihaly
Csikszentmihalyi discussed creativity on a TV program about "Creativity"
and mused on the necessity of moving beyond boundaries and taking chances -
doing something different - putting information together in ways that are

When I look at Abstract Art, I do not look at it or see it as most viewers
because I am studying the design, the positive and negative space, the
relationship of colors and shapes to each other, the overall design
quality, the painterly quality (if it is a painting), etc. It the design
"works" I am moved.

There is much written about Abstract Art and Actionism which can be found
on the Internet.

>Am I mistaken in thinking
>that one aspect of art is communication?

No, I don't think so. My work as an artist is to communicate ideas and
feelings, reflections, concerns and joys.


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