All art is documentary. It’s the evidence and record of events, processes, objects. It’s all time bound. Art always informs about the artist in her studio.
Painting is the record of brush on canvas. Sculpture is the record of chisel on marble, and so on. As with any documentary, the viewer’s skill is in a dynamic with the evidence. The more you know about how paint acts, the clearer is the evidence to you.
The document is of a piece with what the artist wants. He has the usual human impulses to be known, satisfied, protected, paid, to enjoy the process, to think well of himself, to work and stop working. There are some sociopaths making art, completely detached from the audience downstream. But the great bulk are eager to satisfy some part of this laundry list of wants.
Every artwork is an invitation to know the artist’s process and impulses.
The documentary sometimes conflicts with the aesthetic. Thinking about the artist working, brushing, chipping, welding, sometimes pushes aside the eyeball kicks and psycho-chemical events of immersive aesthetics. Sometimes the documentary reinforces aesthetics. Evidence of hard work can sell the pleasures of looking at welds like knuckles or fine single hair brush strokes. Painterliness is a legitimate pleasure or enlightenment, to pick two of the possible rewards of art.
Figurative art is of course evidence of nature and abstract art can be evidence of psychological states or phosphenes. But all art is information about its own creation.

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