Art appreciation: Show, tell and demonstrate
Sometimes things seem so simple that you don’t appreciate the time and artistry it took to make them. A dish with just a few ingredients. An elegant flower arrangement. A short but powerful essay. Art of the Abstract Expressionists, with lines and paint and colors that seem so elementary and easy to create, but somehow evoke an emotional response.
I love this MOMA series called “In the Studio.” MOMA curator Corey D’Augustine shows viewers how to paint like Abstract Expressionists Willem de Kooning, Agnes Martin and Franz Kline as well as avant-garde artist Yayoi Kusama and NY School artist Mark Rothko.
In his two-part video series about Willem de Kooning, d’Augustine demonstrates what he calls a de Kooning-ish painting, talking about the materials de Kooning used and his techniques, explaining planes of color, mark-making and relationships between marks, extending lines, newsprint transfers and how important it is to “look at a distance” for what he calls a global perspective. As he paints, he explains the thought process: what’s working and how to change what’s not. In the end, the viewer gets an in-depth view of the intricacies of what, outwardly, may look easy.
We find out why a painting like one of Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Net series, made up of loops and dots, has a complexity that engages the eye and the mind. The varying consistency of the paint affects how the artist's hand responds to create variations that keep viewers captivated. Side note: "Infinity Mirrors," Kusama's first retrospective in 20 years, tours the US and Canada through October of 2018.
MOMA's "In the Studio" series is a reminder to us to look carefully and to understand that both the process and the underlying intention of the artist are just as important as the finished work itself.