Friday, March 11, 2011

"through glass so bright..."

In the newest New York Review of Books (3/24/11), Edmund White reviews a new edition of Parade's End and, in the process, discusses Ford Madox Ford's artistic connections and approaches. Ford and Joseph Conrad collaborated on three novels and on the primacy of "remembered or invented images" over fact. White includes this wonderful quote from Ford: "'Impressionism exists to render those queer effects of real life that are like so many views seen through bright glass -- through glass so bright that whilst you perceive through it a landscape or a backyard, you are aware that, on its surface, it reflects a face of a person behind you.'" So, in this one sentence, you are separated from what you see, by this glass, and yet it frames what you see before you at the same time as it frames you, and anyone who happens to be in range (and looking over your shoulder).  You have a through-line, then: the landscape you see, the glass, you, your shadow or friend.... all of it glittering because of the shiny glass. (And, if there were a mirror behind you? or a camera? or another window?) Who needs the facts to be recounted when there is all this possible light and image and form and closeness and distance and reflection and shadow....

It keeps coming back to the space between ... and so I am back to the Benday dots (not, now, reflected in my monotype, but I am working on them in a painting). Do they represent a form of continuity, the dots, because they are reproduced over and over again?  In his later work, Lichtenstein would shift away from the comic-book world and instead portray (things I think I remember) a room where a sofa and coffee table lines up against a mirror, and then the scene shifts to another world entirely, maybe a Picasso-esque model.... Lichtenstein had said that he intended his work to be "anti-contemplative, anti-mystery, anti-paint quality."  Yeah, that's what he said, but his work is that shiny glass, putting you up against it and beside it and looking through it... at yourself, and maybe some other people (in your world? or in your memory?). That's plenty contemplative and mysterious for me....and here are the journal entries to prove it:

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