RE: MD Painting Quality

From: Platt Holden (
Date: Fri Oct 22 2004 - 17:40:49 BST

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    I had inquired:

    > "I'm  interested in your "writing and assessing the qualities of
    > paintings." I'm curious about you mean by "artistic intentions" and how you
    > determine such intentions by viewing a painting."

    You answered:
    > - I was referring to what Pirsig calls technological quality - the form. I
    > think one would have to have some sort of familiarity with the language of
    > painting in order to understand what the artistic intentions might be, and
    > from Mark, I understand that you are a painter. Certainly, without that
    > background it would be more difficult. But for instance, if I look at a
    > landscape painting by Richard Diebenkorn, I can tell immediately that his
    > artistic intentions were not the same as say for instance, Albert
    > Bierstadt, in the sense that they are building a different type of painting
    > - using a different language.

    Having never seen Diebenkom's abstract works I shouldn't comment on them
    other than to say that generally I find the "language" of abstract
    painting to require translation into words to describe the artist's
    intent, thereby defeating the purpose of painting to bypass "the thought
    process that is so characteristic of the 'separate self sense'" as you so
    eloquently put it (below). My favorite book about modern painting is by
    Tom Wolfe entitled "The Painted Word" in which he delightfully mocks the
    necessity to explain paintings like those of Diebenkom. My favorite quote
    about modern abstract painting came from Al Capp: "A product of the
    untalented sold by the unprincipled to the utterly bewildered." As you can
    tell, I'm conservative. :-)

    > Or, a bit more closer to home, if we read
    > your piece entitled "Say Hello to Now", I sense that your artistic
    > intention was not to write a poem, but a piece of narrative prose. Both
    > are writing, but the forms they embody are artistically different - have
    > different purposes. If I were to compare your writing to something written
    > by Rumi, it would be relatively meaningless from the point of view of
    > setting any standard for or measurement of quality, in my opinion.

    An excellent analogy, and a point well taken.

    > "I also wonder if you agree with Ken Wilber that, 'Great art dissolve ego
    > in nondual consciousness and is to that extent experienced as an epiphany,
    > a revelation, a release or liberation--great art as release from the
    > tyranny of the separate self sense'. "

    > -Well, I'm not sure what HE means by this. If he's saying that art
    > provides an opportunity for having an intense experience that completely
    > bypasses the thought process that is so characteristic of the "separate
    > self sense", then yes, I whole heartedly agree with this. I think this is
    > one of the primary functions of art. This is the nowness of art. It's the
    > romantic quality, isn't it?

    Yes, I completely agree. Great art makes a direct connection to the
    conceptually unknown so that, as Mondrian put it, " . . . the individual
    will be open to the universal and will tend more and more to unite with
    > Platt, I think there is a huge difference between talking about art,
    > assessing it so to speak, as in Mark's "Poetic Quality" exercise, and
    > viewing art or taking it in on it's own terms. One is a function of
    > engaging in the subject/object dialogue. The other is an immediate, direct
    > experience that is nigh impossible to translate into words (doesn't mean we
    > shouldn't try). For me, that's what is so brilliant about ZMM. It really
    > provides an intellectual structure in which to place these qualitatively
    > different experiences.

    Beautifully said! I couldn't agree more.


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