So the chief goal for the artist who writes is not to self-interpret, but to self-represent. Words aren't the only way to do this, of course. Certain musicians have used writing to great advantage (think of Braxton, Ives, Cage, Stockhausen). Others have self-represented by other means. Miles Davis may have famously refused to say much about his music, but in 1973 those platform shoes and silk scarves spoke volumes about what he was trying to represent. The integrally-minded artist will naturally use whatever means they have at their disposal in order to articulate the position of their art. The notion of creativity in this sense goes beyond the art medium itself, as I've said before, it involves the measured articulation of one's personal worldview and not simply the outlining of a particular approach to one's craft. The goal of the critic should be just the opposite - to interpret on a very well-informed level, but not to represent. The responsible critic leaves that much to the artist - he/she understands that their own view of a work may indeed differ from the artist's view. To err as a critic is to slide unknowingly from interpretation into representation, to claim the truth in other words. Alternately, the responsible artist understands that to release an art work is to open the possibility of a multitude of interpretations, all of which must be acceptable insofar as none of them may claim exclusivity - no one interpretation is ultimately the truth. Each individual interpretation represents an autonomous point of view, unique and separate from the point of view of the artist. An interpretation may come close to the artist’s intention or it may introduce completely new information. A particularly strong interpretation may even end up coming back around to impact the work of the artist - think of Gunther Schuller's essay praising the motivic logic in Sonny Rollins' famous "Blue 7" solo. Schuller's analysis actually influenced the direction of Sonny's thinking and practicing for a time! As an independent projection of thought, any interpretation is inherently valid. But in order to achieve a measure of relevance to the original creative situation, an interpreter must acknowledge that the artist’s own self-representation is integral to the art work itself. The artist’s own voice must be considered, bundled with the art work. To take the art work at face value and then inject one’s own meaning is the ultimate critical faux pas.
"The fact that people break down and cry when confronted with my pictures shows that I can communicate those basic human emotions... the people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when painting them. And if you say you are moved only by their color relationships then you miss the point."
- Was Rothko not being intellectual about his very measured and careful approach to composition, however radical the idea of composing with just two or three fields of color was at the time?
- Was Pollock being anti-intellectual as he devoted years and years to the invention of a completely new way to make a painting?
In 1943 Rothko and Adolph Gottlieb wrote a well-known manifesto on their art which included this statement:
"It is a widely accepted notion among painters that it does not matter what one paints as long as it is well painted. This is the essence of academicism. There is no such thing as good painting about nothing."
There are so many ideas whose importance has been overshadowed only by their obscurity. Posted by Kris Tiner at 2:57 PM Labels: commentary, writing on writing 4 comments: