Georgia on my mind

Georgia OKeeffe Inside Clam Shell, 1930

White is a color. Or is it? Yesterday, a fashionista at the mall told me that white is a “neutral.” I hated to argue with her, because youth is infallibly certain. But white isn’t neutral at all.

White is breathless. When I approach art I usually clamor for stunning color or a nuanced message worthy of prophets. Intellectual vigor of form or composition.

Georgia sweeps all that away in this painting and confounds us with whiteness. White interests me for all its myriad associations.  Purity, cleanliness, godliness.  A white canvas or paper to some of us signals dizzy anticipation or nail-biting terror.  But here, it is divested from  spiritual or moral connotation.

I see an alien landscape, the twilight side of the moon. Craters and ash, shadowy gorges and soaring peaks unmeasured. Is this an internal landscape sweeping and bare or the external in infinite magnitude? Georgia reveals her surprise, it’s the inside of a clamshell.

Oh it’s so much more though. She makes the small and insignificant, grand. With sweeping lines, and hints of color, rivulets of green, glowings of yellow, she elevates white to legendary status. Mythic.

Pair that with your colored denim crops and skinny jeans people.


I’m sooo abstracted

Kandinsky – not high on my art must see list.  Primarily because I really didn’t know anything about him or too much about “modern” art or the Bauhaus school,  which he taught at before the Nazi’s closed it in 1933. However the Guggenheim has a whole floor devoted to him that might just turn you into a fan.  You wouldn’t know it at first glance, but a tremendous amount of planning went into the painting below.  It’s the first time that an artist didn’t attempt to paint representationally.

“The sun melts all of Moscow down to a single spot that, like a mad tuba, starts all of the heart and all of the soul vibrating.”

There are perhaps 3-4 color studies he did before painting this as well as a dozen or so sketches which show him trying to figure out placement of the elements.  You can actually feel him struggling with what he wants to express and having a hell of a time working it out.   I love it.  He was trying to capture the soul of his native Moscow in an entirely new art language, abstraction.

I’m not the only one who does a napkin sketch of my life and know it isn’t quite how I wanted it to look.  Struggling to “figure it out.”  In the end he solved his problem by surrounding the core of the painting with a swath of white cloud.  White space.   I’ll take another serving of white space, please.

Vasily Kandinsky, Painting with White Border (Bild mit weissem Rand), May 1913. Oil on canvas, 140.3 x 200.3 cm. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection, By gift  37.245. © 2009 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris

Vasily Kandinsky, Painting with White Border (Bild mit weissem Rand), May 1913. Oil on canvas, 140.3 x 200.3 cm. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection, By gift 37.245. © 2009 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris


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