"The moment you think
you understand a great work of art,
it's dead for you."
I recently read this quote in a blog by Alyson Stanfield of Art Biz and have been thinking about it ever since. I tried to find a context in which Mr. Wilde said it but came up short. However, it continues to resonate with me.
People often ask me to "explain this piece" (of another artist) or ask how anyone could call such-and-such, art. I have also collected a few artists that others just can't stomach. Why such divergent definitions?
I think art speaks to one's personal criteria. And I believe that the quote above sums up a huge part of the criteria for me personally. I lean towards art (2D, 3D, movies, books etc.) that offer me a continuing fascination. They have the capacity to either endlessly make me smile or continually make me think. When something accomplishes either of these two elusive, personal standards then to me, it is art and I want it around me.
As soon as I uncover and understand everything about a piece (nice vase, spring flowers, blue table) then it is dead, for me. I don't want it or need it. But if I look again and wonder whether the vase is an old heirloom or a new gift, whether the flowers have a hidden message or were gathered for a meaningful occasion, and whether the blue table is really blue etc, well then, there is something new to think about. When the artist can layer meaning as well as he can color and shape, then I am hooked. I want unanswered questions, nuance, double entendre, feelings and possibilities.
This is what I strive for in my work as well as in my collecting. Have you ever thought about a general criteria that you have (and may not realize) as to what constitutes art that stays alive for you?
Does Oscar Wilde's statement have any meaning for you?
Think about this....and please share your thoughts.