abstract expressionism...can't i just look at the pictures???

i'd be lying if i said i enjoyed this book. i did find that there were some things that i could understand, i just had to dig through the author's assumption that i knew what he was talking about. i am definitely not david anfam's target audience.

i find many of the quotes in this book applicable to the art of reading poetry. for instance, somebody named Smith said, "a work of art or an object is always completed by the viewer" (16). i couldn't find his first name. apologies. David, maybe. i saw that name a few pages before. anyway, i write poetry on occasion. my first concern about my poetry is that it is too conversational. too fiction-like. i think Smith's statement applies well to my craft of poetry. i don't have to complete everything for my target audience. i have to assume that they know they're reading poetry, and let them fill in the blanks where they may. a good tactic for becoming less expositional would be to make my poetry less explanatory and less of a testimonial.

i think this quote also applies well to the reading/viewing of works of art. readers/viewers always have some personal history that they bring with their reading. they complete the object by infusing it with themselves. as humans, i believe we react to every stimulus with a part of ourselves. we cannot divorce ourselves from our biases (or, ourselves). we can try for objectivity and fail.

...

it was difficult for me to read this book, partly because it was dense, and partly because i was so distracted by the art. i think i'll have a hard time reading picture books to my prospective children. like frank o'hara, i think i would like to be a painter, but am not. i paint my pictures with words. (that was a joke, but partly serious. i just don't like the cliche.)

what i enjoy about abstract expressionism is that it is nearly impossible for the art to stimulate neutrality in its viewers. the reaction of many to this work is "my kid could paint that." maybe so, but that's still a reaction. i really enjoy learning about the motivations of the artists. something abstract, to them, could express the internal better than a direct representation of the external. how would i express the torrent of emotions inside of me? not with a picture of my angry face. that does little to truly depict the internal. depicting the internal, i think, is an impossible task, but these abstract expressionists got pretty close.

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