Do Materialists Dream of Etherial Sheep?

Sorry to Phillip K. I think a lot of non-material thinkers believe that materialists can't have a good time. Since we are skeptical of a lot of the things that such individuals enjoy they seem to think that we never have any fun. Not so. Being objective about the world doesn't destroy the value of subjective experience.

The fact that we don't think that our existence is magical doesn't take away from the magic of living.

Let me give you an example.

I suspect that the first painting needs no introduction, but the one on the left may. The painting to the left is "Lavender Mist" by Jackson Pollock. As way of introduction, Ole Pliny is a very (very, very) minor artist who has sold some of his work over the years. Art is not my vocation nor my hobby. Art for me has always been my emotional outlet. I paint for my own needs. If on occasion one of my works connects to someone, I'm just as likely to give it to them as sell it. The value for me is in the creation of the piece not the end product. That is a very subjective process. To me, art has both an objective worth and a subjective one. I appreciate the former - and enjoy the later.

These two pieces illustrate my meaning. I greatly appreciate and admire Leonardo's skill and his historical importance is unquestionable. But subjectively there is no contest - I would much prefer to have Pollock's painting over my mantel than the "Mona Lisa". That sounds crazy to some, after all, objectively, the "Mona Lisa" is extraordinarily valuable and historically significant. As an investment it would be the best choice. As art it falls flat to me.

Well, not exactly flat but I still enjoy "Lavender Mist" more. Now you are surely convinced that Ole' Pliny is completely wacked. The paintings work emotionally for me for different reasons. The allure of the "Mona Lisa" is that expression. What is she thinking? Leonardo has captured facial ambiguity perfectly. The viewer can create a world to explain that look because it's not an obvious expression that we can easy catalog. It gives us pause. That is masterful. But it's easier than what Pollock does.

Pollock, and the other great abstract painters, have a more difficult task in my opinion. They have to create drama and emotion absent common place cues. There is no expression to capture our interest in "Lavender Mist". And yet, to view it in person, is to be filled with emotion. Emotion created without the benefit of the obvious. That to me is great art. It's very subjective, but so what?

1 comment:

pboyfloyd said...

I think I worked there as a Cedar Rat many Moons ago. Sure it looks like there's lots but it's mostly rotten.

Don't go there.