Vince Pitelka on sat 29 jun 96
Sorry, but I am finally driven to jump into this seemingly endless stream of
random thoughts and theories with my own random thoughts and theories. Dan,
you have some strange notions, often iliciting a resounding "HUH???" I'll try
to avoid letting this develop into a rant, although that could easily happen.
For each of us, our own quest as artists in essence constitutes our own search
for a definition of art, but that definition is entirely personal and
constantly in transition. As soon as we try to verbalize it, we limit what art
can be, cutting off our options. So why waste time trying to define it, or
even thinking about defining it. It is the artist's nemisis.
And who's to say that the original quest of any artist is beauty??? Art is by
no means necessarily the quest for beauty - this is another concept which
severely limits artistic expression. Art CAN be the quest for beauty, but more
importantly it is the quest for profound and significant self expression, which
may be simple and elemental, complex and chaotic, clean and functional, ugly
and offensive, etc. The best art, whether functional or nonfunctional,
delivers a personal experience to the user/viewer which is unique and
To assume that beauty is a constant across time and culture is unrealistic.
Beauty is culturally specific, although concepts of beauty often coincide over
time and culture. We often adapt our own concept of beauty when we come to
understand the cultural context of a thing - for example, you might hate
turquoise, and yet come to love bright alkaline turquoise glazes after studying
Egyptian amulets and Shawabti.
And what is this razor's edge of beauty? Again, this is severely limiting. I
am sad for anyone stuck on such an edge, which is no different from being stuck
in a rut. You say that when one is balancing on the razor's edge of beauty,
the only other choices are "one form of confusion or another." What a dismal
thought. Whatever continuity there is to the concept and reality of beauty is
by no means linear. I prefer to think of it as a three-dimensional matrix. A
subtle design/aesthetic change in almost any direction might achieve true
beauty, or it might erase what beauty was there.
This is a complex catch-22, because the whole notion of beauty is so seductive,
and yet when we achieve real beauty in a handmade thing, it can be an anchor
preventing us from taking that next step - once achieved, beauty is safe and
secure. Beauty is grand, but it is just a fraction of the possibility of art.
And then, to confuse matters further, what the Hell IS beauty anyway? Not only
is it culturally specific, but it is personal and individual to each one of us.
Sometimes we agree on what is beautiful. And of course it is fun and
worthwhile to discuss whether or not a thing is beautiful, but as soon as you
start to define parameters of beauty, you limit the possibilities and erect
barriers to creativity. Michael Cardew, bless his soul, illustrated it as well
as anyone. He had a very strict set of criteria for what could and could not
be used as decoration on pottery. Once, when introduced to Maria and Julian
Martinez, he decided to launch a critique of two pots which happen to be on
display nearby, explaining why the surface decoration was so inappropriate for
the forms. The pots turned out to be by Maria and Julian - masterpieces of
Vince Pitelka - email@example.com
Appalachian Center for Crafts, Smithville, TN
firstname.lastname@example.org on sat 29 jun 96
>Sorry, but I am finally driven to jump into this seemingly endless stream
.. Once, when introduced to Maria and Julian
>Martinez, he decided to launch a critique of two pots which happen to be on
>display nearby, explaining why the surface decoration was so inappropriate for
>the forms. The pots turned out to be by Maria and Julian - masterpieces of
> - Vince
Vince et al,
It is much more interesting to consider the "why" of the search for beauty
than to gnaw on that bone of what beauty may be.
Anthropologically, and in terms of survival value, the human quest for and
depiction of beauty is puzzling.
There are some interesting remarks on and theorizing about that quest in a
number of books, including African Genesis and The Territorial Imperative,
(whose author for the moment escapes me - Robert Ardrey??).