Friday, December 9, 2016

the nature of detail

When dealing with art there are 2 distinct 'levels' of detail. The first would be the detail that describes so called objective reality. In painting many times this approaches 'photographic' detail or what could also be termed neo-classicism. This is basically an adolescent approach to art and art appreciation. The appreciator says, "Wow, look at how well that artist captured 'that'. The artist working at this level of detail is basically dominated by a concept and need to attain some idea of perfection with regards to expressing the motif 'realistically'.. At the same time they dominate the medium with their 'technical' mastery.
There was quite a shift in this understanding of 'detail' in the 19th C with the advent of what is now termed impressionism. It is really the flowering of the modern and goes hand in hand with the shift from the agrarian to the industrial.
"Detail' becomes clearly AESTHETIC detail. The artists we love from that period like Cezanne, begin to rise to a more mature understanding of detail. They are less concerned with literal detail than they are now concerned with the inherent values of the medium itself. The 'picture' begins to take a less important aspect to the process and the 'painting' becomes prominent. In other words as an example of this more mature expression of modernism and painting the Cezanne below, shows us much more than the woods and Cezanne's expression of the woods. We see great attention to the personality of the brush and his care with the same. You can see every mark in the work and it all contributes to the overall color harmony and composition. You can see that all the major aspects of the medium are in balance. You can see the painting as the expression of the brush. You can see the painting as the expression of color. You can see the painting as an expression of the motif, ie. the woods. And, you can see the painting as an expression of Cezanne's artistic personality, ie. intelligence, thought, feeling and intuition. In essence all these aspects are one. You don't do this from an intellectual place. You enter into what could be termed the superconscious. It is also very taoistic. And really it is simple contemplative entertainment of a very high order and it is very detailed! It is aesthetic detail. It embodies a shift in consciousness from the adolescent need to show one's 'technical' mastery to the adult need to express oneself as the medium. It is music and with true receptivity can be appreciated as such.  My teacher Antonio Salemme 1892-1995, would often say,"Look at the brushstrokes."  It is cutting thru conceptual mind.  This is the crux of the issue.