to care for nothing else

17Sep08

One of the things I’ve been looking most forward to seeing this fall in NY is the Giorgio Morandi retrospective show at The Met. It was a happy surprise to come across a Vija Celmins quote in Peter Schjeldahl’s New Yorker review of the show, “Tables for One.” Celmins’ (an all-time personal favorite artist) and Morandi’s works are groundless, ambiguous, and dreamy, for being so firmly rooted in this world. The similarities between the artists don’t end there; their subject matter, attention to paint/graphite application, and color choice (or lack of) all overlap. From all of these things that are so not conceptual and so not exciting for a lot of reasons, they both make/made some pulse-altering art.

Celmins said this about Morandi’s work (above):

“projected an extraordinary set of grays far into the gallery and into my eyes. On closer inspection, I discovered how strange the painting was, how the objects seemed to be fighting for each other’s space. One could not determine their size or location. They appeared both flat and dimensional, and were so tenderly painted that the paint itself seemed to be the subject.”

Morandi, as Schjeldahl notes, painted as if nothing else in life mattered.

For Celmins (below), painting/drawing is, “not really what I would call a ‘brilliant’ idea. It is an act of trying to reach some physical presence beyond idea.” Celmins, I think, paints and draws because she realizes everything else matters.

Vija Celmins

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