Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Subjective? Objective? How Critical is the Weight of Text? And who made those paintings, anyway?

Let's look at these two paintings one more time, and see if we can evaluate them in some objective way, before I reveal their origins (and... text).  This first painting:

The first thing that we would notice, objectively, is color. The blues and greens of the right-hand side of the painting are softened, made warmer, as they merge into the oranges and yellows of the central diagonal line.  There are some obvious brushstrokes, but most of the surface is soaked in color. The obvious application of paint comes with the dots in the upper right and some streaks of gestural paint in the crossed lines. The painting is layered; the crossed lines show traces of several layers of paint, as does the circular shape at bottom.  The collaged elements at center left could be embossed or simply wrinkled paper; from this photograph, it is hard to tell. They also provide layers, by themselves, but also because whatever these collaged papers might have depicted is wiped out entirely by added paint in varied colors.  The eye is drawn around the painting's surface by the color and the two crossed lines. Objectively, I think that is as much as we should say.

Now, for the second work under discussion:

This painting, too, is suffused with color, most of it warm reds and yellows. Here the complication is not added by large crossed lines, or blues and greens, but by a floating gray mass, a figure, of sorts, attached by the yellow lines that function as straps at its bottom. It stops the flow of color and this mass is what forces the eye around the painting; we find ourselves looking for the colors around it. There are three thin directional lines of paint, two in black (moving off the painting's edges) and one red (it follows the yellow "strap"). There are some brushstrokes here, in the red areas at top center and left, and in the black figure submerged under the gray mass, but the colors in this painting are mostly applied in broad, rough swathes.  The painting is layered, with the gray and black and gold figures at the center, and with the blue at top right, which is soft and soaked into the surface. Again, I think that's as much as we should say.

Now, just for your own pleasure, look at them each one more time. Which one do you like, subjectively? Both? Neither?

Here's the answer (spoiler alert!). The first painting above is mine, from about 1995. It is 9" x 12" and was painted in acrylic, with collaged magazine pages.  The second painting is a Gerhard Richter, called "Georg," from 1981, and it measures 78 3/4" square.  For the record, because the paintings are so similar, I had not seen a Richter until well after I painted the work at the top. Interesting, no?


  1. they are both beautiful, really fantastic paintings with a sense of depth. as for the likeness, maybe without realising it, you and Gerhard Richter had been influenced in the same way some how, by maybe another artist, event or experiance of emotion?

  2. Thank you, Fred, for your response. I really like Gerhard Richter's work, and could not believe that I found a painting of my own that was so much like the Richter -- but I don't really mean to compare myself to him. Thanks for the good thought!