Sunday, April 25, 2010

James Rosenquist, Painting Below Zero, p. 290

Frank Stella aid something interesting about the split-second nature of art. He said that the baseball player Ted Williams was the quintessential modern artist because of his fast eye--Williams claimed he could see the seams no a baseball as it came over the plate at ninety miles an hour. I want that instant punch when you look at one of my paintings, too--the immediacy of an ad or a billboard--but at the same time I want you to be able to read things in my paintings as they slowly rise to the surface. I'm often impressed by seeing something obliquely. That way I won't get tangled up with its meaning to the point that I forget the very thing that originally enticed me. I'll take it in in that initial flashing way, and then I'll take the time to look deeper.

What I think Frank meant is that seeing a painting is sometimes like love at first sight, something that doesn't have any barriers to it. With some paintings, you don't need words--or titles, either. You get it without anything intervening between you and your vision of it. Afterword, after you've absorbed that first visual blitz, you realize that there's something deep in that black area that you hadn't seen right away.

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