Truth and Art

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Truth and Art

From Virgil Elliott

Published before 2005


Greg Scheckler wrote:
I think that the art [work] does not contain meaning, but rather provokes it, just as it might also provoke emotional or other responses.

Mani Deli wrote:
I agree, although some artwork has a transparent meaning most lack it. Successful artwork provokes the viewer to invent meanings. That ability accounts in great part for the merit of an artwork. However this can be deceptive. As fashion and times change artwork which is technically inferior loses that ability and only technique or lack of it remains. I predict that this as the fate of most fashionable modern art.

Mani, Greg,

These are excellent points, which I had tried to weigh in on with a post that Yahoo sent into a cyberspace black hole when I hit SEND. Then I got drawn into this Rothko debate, and became sidetracked from what I considered a more important topic. So, a bit late, I'll try again to add my thoughts on the subject despite the fact that you have said much the same thing in your words. Maybe I can add something to what has already been covered.

The trick is to intrigue the viewer and give the impression that there is meaning behind the art, whether in fact there is or not. If the work engages the imagination of the viewer, it is more interesting, as mystery is fascinating. There has to be a balance between putting too much into it and too little. Too little, as for example failing to provide sufficient indication of talent on the part of the artist, and no interest will be generated in the first place, which is a problem with much "modern" art, as Mani has noted. Or in many examples of competently painted pictures of mundane subject matter with nothing special about it, which we see in much still life painting. The other extreme could be where too much is spelled out too clearly, and not enough is left for the viewer's imagination to fill in. That isn't to say that actual meaning cannot be part of it, but only that it is not essential.

Artwork is most interesting when it works on more than one level, and on one or another of those levels, it is well to have a bit of mystery. This is how a given work of art etches itself into the memory of the viewer, which of course is the artist's challenge.

Virgil Elliott