Friday, November 26, 2010

The limnal spaces in art...


The skies have been really dramatic. Big cauliflower clouds, dark menacing ones with glowing edges of brilliant white, and so on. It's been great fun to watch and paint. I have a passion for dramatic skies, big weather and November in Rome offers both. As I watched one day I realized it was the sky I'd seen before by the great landscape painters then realized it was only the British and Dutch School that came to mind. I got wondering about Italian landscape painters, so went searching and all I could find (albeit not an in-depth search) was Canaletto but his sky or any other nature was clearly secondary to buildings. The skies are so dramatic here I couldn't believe it waited until the 1700's and Canaletto for them to even gingerly enter an Italian painting. Certainly the great frescoes include sky drama but again, the main theme is religion. Since I am at the American Academy in Rome surrounded by breathtaking minds I asked around. Turns out the shift to landscape did not happen until the Barbizon School…hard to imagine it waited until the 1830's! Without a doubt the really great landscape (and for sake of this entry land/sky) painters were hands down the British and Dutch. They had all the dramatic elements to work with and be inspired by but so did the Italians and what were they doing? One brilliant person (and deeply witty)I spoke to, says it began with Turner's visit to Venice followed by Ruskin's incredibly long tome about it which in the end is all about Turner in Venice.


It is precisely the limnal space between artistic movements that drives me crazy. Frankly if I were younger and not so desparately poor I would dash right back into school and study precisely that…the space between artistic movements, the shift between overwrought religious paintings and landscape, or how and why did the leap from prehistoric painting become more considered work - meaning brought indoors to serve a specific purpose. Or my favorite, when did art go from largely king & church supported to commercial. I want to know the politics and everything else about what goes on during those shifts as it's always more than one thing. I will definitely look for all the information I can about this but do not feel as if I can take it on in a scholarly pursuit, not only because I feel too old to do it but more importantly it would entirely consume me and take me away from making art, something I won't allow to happen. Not many people follow my blog but maybe someone will find this entry, be intrigued by the idea and run with it. I firmly believe the limnal spaces in art are an area rich for exploration.


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