Blog: Color Fields

Christine Alfery

Posted on February 26 2018

Willy Wonka's Bike by Christine Alfery

 Featured image: Going For a Ride No Hands

In the 60’s when I was an under grad student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the concept of the aesthetic was defined, understood, and taught, as a sublime, mystical, holy place. A pure space, that was very enjoyable.  It was understood as a peaceful place, where everything harmonized.  Contemporary artists of the time such as Jenkins, Reinhardt, Rothko, Still, Frankenthaler.   If an artist could reach this aesthetic space they found peace.

I admit – I loved the space, but to call this aesthetic space art was a mistake.  It indeed is a beautiful meditative space, but the concept of art and the concept of aesthetics has progressed, changed. Color fields such as those created by the artists listed above had no objective, no object.  The field of color was enough to define the aesthetic and the work as art.

It appears that the same is happening with the current pop trend of pour paintings.  The color fields that are created through pouring color onto a surface evokes that sublime aesthetic space.  The concept of art, and the concept of the aesthetic has moved on beyond pop culture trend, has moved beyond the notion of the mystical, what happens to an artist during the process of making a work of art. Art and the aesthetic needs the artist to think – compose the work – and produce …….. the concept of art.  What is art, what is the aesthetic, it is easier to state what it no longer is.  It no longer is the sublime space of the 60’s.  It is no longer anything and everything, and everyone can produce it.  If it were – it would be nothing because there would be no value in it because it is anything and everything. I can even relate this type of non thinking to the over whelming flow of politics entering the conceptual area of art and art making.  If the concept of art is tied to an end goal of nothing-ness, as many who engage in political rhetoric suggest by offering the placebo of, you need our help, we feel so sorry for you, let ME help you be like those rich folks or those famous artists.  I will give it to you by forcing others to give up something they have worked hard for, and no give them the choices that I choose for you and for them.

Art has never been that way since I have participated in it.  It has always been, an individual experience between the maker, creator of the work and the media, what ever that is.  It takes hard work, mistakes, turmoil, trauma, negative as well as positive events happening to the individual as they live their lives and as they create “art.”  No one can give that to anyone else, only the individual can do that for themselves.  And they have to want it and work for it and realize even though they do “everything”  absolutely “everything right, the way they were taught – it is not until they release the others, and find themselves that they can create “art.”  Does this finding of the self guarantee famous-ness.  No, unfortunately for the most part it is the toss of the dice that happens in ones favor that usually pushes one forward.

So why not have fun – be yourself and create what you want to create not what everyone else creates.  It is hard, I can’t escape it, and I don’t know many who can.  But we can try, and perhaps, we will find that playground, where the aesthetic and art exist.

Today I like to relate the concept of the aesthetic and art to time and not just space. The aesthetic is a playful space, it is a playground, it is “recess” time, remember recess time? It was/is fun, and yes joyf

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