Recounting a recent trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Martin Mugar reconsiders blue chip paintings including works by Susan Rothenberg, Al Held, Terry Winters, and Anselm Kiefer.
Mugar writes: "I think as long as people have a conscience and a sense of what lies underneath them, whether it is science or the void or the weight of history then painting will remain that concentrated moment, that intersection, where the self is shaped by its knowing of those realms. So I will abandon my first hunch that painting is dead. Maybe what I had to get over was the arrogance of the cartel that hyped the work, Now that the hot media presence has receded into history the paintings are left high and dry to function on their own. They are imbued with fragility. They are not supported by big ideas, just ideas. Maybe that is for the best. The New York art scene was bigger and noisier than it is now and the works were all over sized to match the egos of the artists and the dealers. The din of the battle of the titans has subsided and all that is left are the weapons created in that battle. They still communicate and maybe have more nuances than they did when they were often cudgels used to crush the competition."
Mark Stone reflects on the ever-present possibility to see and form anew through the act of painting.
Stone points to the self contained worlds in a late work by Picasso and a pastel by Degas. In the Degas, he writes, "everything feels close, contained. The surfaces are filled with crosshatches and heavy pastels. The beautiful bathers emerge through the lens and then find a thicker reality in Degas’ line, the flesh formed with each stroke of color, the line tracing the reality in front of us. These visions are not mine, and I’m not supposed to fill in the blanks, there are none to choose. I am supposed to look, to see something that’s not me. I am there with Degas, experiencing an entropic moment, understanding that this drawing is both image and being at once, a hybrid of visual existence."
Butler notes: " the driving force in Rothenberg's work continues to be the combination of agitated brushstroke and idiosyncratic composition, which enables the painter to move convincingly from perceptual study of the world around her to more symbolic imagery, such as acrobats and detached heads."
Edited by artist Brett Baker, Painters' Table highlights writing from the painting blogosphere as it is published and serves as a platform for exploring blogs that focus primarily on the subject of painting.