Sunday, March 21, 2010

Rectangles and Blue

One of the things I love most about abstract art is the way its world is rendered in shapes and colors. We get to fill in the particulars, imagine the story or transcend the figurative. I remember once standing in front of a Rothko painting with Shanna.

"I don't get it," I said. "It's a black canvas."

"Yes," she said. "But actually look at the paint on the canvas."

I stepped closer, and suddenly I was looking into a painting instead of at a picture.

I know this is just a photograph of a gas pump. But somewhere in my hamfisted grasp at modern composition, somewhere in my attempt at deconstructing the world into rectangles and blue is a nod to Rothko's revolutionary painting technique. It is in the spirit of what Walt Whitman wrote here:

To me, every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the
same,
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same;
Every spear of grass--the frames, limbs, organs, of men and women,
and all that concerns them,
All these to me are unspeakably perfect miracles.

18 comments:

Cafe Observer said...

I don't get it, how you can get so much out of this rectangle & blue.

Shanna said...

Thank you, Laurie.

I'm glad you got past the representational aspect and into The Experiencial.

What a perfect quote by Walt Whitman.

wv: resonce: almost resonance and that is what makes quality. Yes?

ryanpainting said...

Look at that auto antennae. Why does today's music have to be so rebellious?
By contrast, the police antennae in the background has more important business to attend to.

Mister Earl said...

I like it. What does the 5 mean in numerology?

altadenahiker said...

wow, that poem and your thoughts will stay with me all day. As a teenager, I used to visit the Art Institute in Chicago all the time. There was one giant canvas, all black with just a small patch of red. Didn't get it, didn't particularly like it, and yet, I never forgot it.

Mister Earl said...

The red truck from yesterday is parked on El Centro near Brent today, behind Starbucks.

Yakpate said...

The way the pure, natural blue world is bisected by the man-made construction, and then hedged by the intellectual concept of 5, is both beautiful and... OK, I'm from the sixties... mind-blowing.

Great post on so many levels, LA.

TheChieftess said...

Mr E...I believe Dixie Jane said that 5 represented fun and sex...

Judy Williams said...

The lines and angles are indeed wonderful. When you add the pop of sky blue, it truly turns from not just abstraction, but art.

Judy Williams said...

I'm an idiot. I just noticed the antennae in the foreground!!!

wv: rawness

That needs no explanation

dbdubya said...

Just to show you that some of us read everything, Laurie, you identified this at the bottom of your post, where you show links to previous posts, as an Arco Station. Oops - this was taken at the Chevron station next to City Hall. It was a Shell station until a couple of years ago when, under the cover of darkness, they changed all the signs and the next day it was Chevron.

Perhaps I have too much time on my hands on this beautiful Sunday.

And your not alone, Judy. I didn't see the auto antenna until I I read Ryan's post. Now that's someone who catches the finest details.

TheChieftess said...

I didn't notice the antenna either, until after I read your comment Judy!!! How was the Grand Cayman???

Laurie said...

You're right, eagle-eyed DB. I meant to put the tag "gas station" and it defaulted to Arco. I didn't even realize it. :-)

Thanks for the kind words today, people. I wish I'd used a fill flash to illuminate the 5 on the gas pump but I grabbed this shot on the fly and didn't really think about whether it would turn out. I could have used a burn tool to edit it lighter but I try to keep all images fairly pure.

The more I looked at it, the more it made me think and the more it made me think, the more I looked at it so I wanted to share.

Dixie Jane said...

Mister Earl: Numbers in a nutshell:5 Positive Traits: Expansiveness, new and visionary ideas, quick thinking, versatile and ever-changing, action oriented, curious and exploring, promoting, resourceful in using freedom constructively.

5 Negative Traits: Restless, discontent, edgy temperament and speech, dissatisfaction, too many hasty decisions, impatience, lacking in application.

Dixie Jane said...

Many years ago I visited a Houston Museum with my brother where there were two Rothko paintings under heavy guard. Each was the size of a large wall. Each was solid black. My brother and I sat on cushions on the floor so we could stare at the paintings and try to make sense of them. Each time we would look at each other we would laugh, quietly. Ok, so we weren't in the know and didn't appreciate them.

Margaret said...

Fantastic

Laurie said...

Thanks, Margaret.

Thanks, everybody!

Pasadena Adjacent said...

"transcend the figurative" well said. I wish I had joined the conversation on the day you posted this.

true story

I went on the tour of the Weisman home on the west side. The man was a huge fan of the fabric chintz. Theirs was a big bold floral spread across a yellow and white striped pattern. The docent relayed a Weisman quote saying "that good art could rise above any and all circumstance" In this case it was Rothko's turn to rise above that chintz couch. Weisman was wrong...very wrong