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Quality, I tell you

Posted in Art in the world, Art Papers by Adele Todd on June 19, 2009

 Can you and should you judge a painting by its frame? Of course not. Yet, you wonder what catches the eye of many who buy local work. How many people bother to look at the art on offer at a gallery before it is framed?

After looking at the short film made by Vivan Sunderam, (see post on Amrita Sher-Gil) I also viewed The Tate’s short interview with the Art Critic,  Nick Hackworth  discussing the work of Gustav Klimt.

One of the things that he said that struck me right away came at the end of the short. He mentioned that Klimt’s art lives on because of the standard of it.  It was also wonderful to see so much of the work of The Sessession Group. One of the  lofty moments  in 20th century art history.

My first memories of the work of Klimt was as a child. I remember looking at the work of Erte before coming upon Klimt, and for many years I assumed that Klimt was all about the decorative. It was not until I was a teenager that I began to read history of the early twentieth century and the work of Rennie MacIntosh, whose designs I was fanatical about  when I was fifteen. In researching him, I came upon Klimt again.

Klimt’s working with gold leaf, his language of curls and straitions on the canvas as his women look out, posed, hair glossy and flowing, velvet dresses jewelled…you cannot help but wonder about the man who created this work. What compelled him to this type of painting?

Mr. Hackworth mentions that Klimt was exciting for the times, and I agree that that still comes through today.

You never know what work shall keep its energy, power and interest? Yet, to me, certain things remain the same no matter what, and that is an artists’ strong sense of self through their work. This cannot be faked. So, as an artist, you may be influenced, you may copy a style, but ultimately, if you are in any way hesitant about what you are producing, it registers in the work at the end.

It might be said, but can’t awkwardness be the work? Certainly, and that sense that cannot really be named, is part of the success that makes an artist’s work matter in the long run.

So, you inevitably get back to the knowing that art reminds us that we do not know. It reminds us that it is an experience. Perhaps your experience may make up one of many types of similar ways of seeing over time, or perhaps you may be a lone wolf from the start, producing something not quite seen in that way before.

I think for many artists, striving for just that, is part of why they work Although the not seen must be drawn out from deep within. It is not pretty, it is gut wrenching and particularly hard for those who love them. But it must be done to reach anywhere the artist wants to go.

Ultimately the viewer must give work a serious look. What do you get from what you see. Is it like everything else that you see, or is it in some way different? That is the starting point of looking at something great.

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