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Saturday 20 April 2013

Art and Theories of Art

While we argued
The Truth of the painting,
its meaning -- and could
such a thing as meaning exist?

while we debated
how much he'd been swayed
by the skies of Bellini
or the mysticisms of Blake,

while we wrangled about
the folds in the clothes
(was it the Romanesque
line that we saw?)

or the slight elongations --
did he intend
the subtle rotations
that made form seem bizarre?

Even then, as we bickered,
the wind was rising,
the sun slowly falling,
the birds fallen quiet, and

the sky (though not a Bellini),
had gone suddenly dark --
and all the while
as we argued

these ponderous thoughts,
the sole custodian
of the answers we sought,
was dying alone in his bed.


The Weaver of Grass said...

Not sure that I understand the last stanza Dave - but I like the poem as a whole and there is such truth in it. I sometimes think we try to read too much into a picture instead of enjoying its intrinsic beauty for itself. The same goes for poetry too.

Elephant's Child said...

While the sole custodian of the answers (the creator?) was dying, the painting remains. And is not altered by discussion, appraisal, arguments or applause. Which makes it so much more consistent that people.

Leovi said...

The truest art theory will be imposed by the historical perspective over time. Religious beliefs or existentialists were decisive in the birth of art and its evolution. My Goddess is: the beauty.

David Cranmer said...

Beautiful, Dave. And when can I buy a collection of your stories?

Mary said...

This is a very sad poem to me, Dave. The artist himself so apart from others' discussion of what his painting meant. And, as the artist is dying, these discussers will never be able to know the meaning.

Tabor said...

What deep thinking. A great example of focusing on the wrong thing. Of course, art never has the answers, only the questions. Even the artist had only a few answers.

Ygraine said...

I find the greatest works of art always pose more questions than answers...and when you add to the equation the unique view of each of it's beholders it only becomes even more unfathomable!

If someone had thought of asking the artist himself before his demise, well, I doubt if even he would have all the answers.
True genius is unknowable. It works through us, rather than coming from us.

Wonderfully thought-provoking, Dave.
This is one I shall definitely return to again and again.:)

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

Like The Weaver of Grass I don't manage to imagine who you are referring to in the last stanza but this doesn't diminish the profound truth I sense in this stunning poem, it actually reminds me to Nones by H.W.Auden, from Horae Canonicae.

Carl said...

Whether your creator is God or the artist really is only an existential point of view. Is it not. The creators intent aside. The art or creation means what it means to each viewer and trying to put value or correctness to it is a wasted effort. Better i think to observe, absorb and create your own world, art or construct... Artsy Fartsy answer maybe, but the way i view it. making art is the closest we come to being god ourselves.

haricot said...

The trace that has meaning follows after the artist's works and even for the artist it is hard to find...

Dave King said...

Thank you ALL so much for these comments. Apologies for being so tardy in reply -- I had overlooked the fact that I had not done so. I can say absolutely that every one was of high interest to me. Writing the poem brought to mind an argument that used to rage long into the night at art school as to whether the artist is the best or last person to really know how successful a work is. One side would argue that only the artist knows how close -- or otherwise -- it is to the original inspiration. The other side would maintain that he is too close to it and too involved in the minutiae of it.