Wabi Sabi: The Japanese Art of Impermanence
“Wabi sabi is an intuitive appreciation of transient beauty in the physical world that reflects the irreversible flow of life in the spiritual world. It is an understated beauty that exists in the modest, rustic, imperfect, or even decayed, an aesthetic sensibility that finds a melancholic beauty in the impermanence of all things.”
Art of Edo Japan: The Artist and the City 1615-1868
“This beautifully illustrated survey examines the art and artists of the Edo period, one of the great epochs in Japanese art. Together with the imperial city of Kyoto and the port cities of Osaka and Nagasaki, the splendid capital city of Edo (now Tokyo) nurtured a magnificent tradition of painting, calligraphy, printmaking, ceramics, architecture, textile work, and lacquer. As each city created its own distinctive social, political, and economic environment, its art acquired a unique flavor and aesthetic. Author Christine Guth focuses on the urban aspects of Edo art, including discussions of many of Japan’s most popular artists—Korin, Utamaro, and Hiroshige, among others—as well as those that are lesser known, and provides a fascinating look at the cities in which they worked.”
“Robert Hughes has trained his critical eye on many major subjects, from the city of Barcelona to the history of his native Australia. Now he turns that eye inward, onto himself and the world that formed him. Hughes analyzes his experiences the way he might examine a Van Gogh or a Picasso. From his relationship with his stern and distant father to his Catholic upbringing and school years; and from his development as an artist, writer, and critic to his growing appreciation of art and his exhilaration at leaving Australia to discover a new life, Hughes’ memoir is an extraordinary feat of exploration and celebration.”
A Worldly Art
The Dutch Republic, 1585-1718
I just finished this excellent book on Hieronymus Bosch.
“Of course I doubt myself all the time, but I must obey my instincts, they are the only things I can trust. I was thinking last night as I sat by the stove reading the journals of last year how suspicious I am of whatever “procedure” I’m involved with at a certain period in painting. When I was working from “master” reproductions I was afraid I’d never do anything original. When I was painting from photographs I was afraid I’d never work from nature again. When the work was more agitated I hated its “expressionism” and wanted more calm. And now that it’s more calm I fear it’s not emotional enough. When I take a long time on a picture and struggle a great deal I hate the agony and suspect I’m over-working. And when it comes easily I fear facility.”
Continuing on my New York School reading binge, I recently finished The Extreme of the Middle: Writings of Jack Tworkov. Superbly edited by Mira Schor, this collection of his writing, from published works to more private musing in journals and letters, comes highly recommended.
“My hope is to confront the picture without a ready technique or prepared attitude—a condition which is nevertheless never completely attainable; to have no program and, necessarily then, no preconceived style. To paint no Tworkovs.” – Jack Tworkov, from a journal entry dated March 3, 1958
I find this website very timely, as I am currently reading a collection of van Gogh’s letters.
The Van Gogh Letters Project
“All the surviving letters written and received by Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) are contained in this edition of his correspondence…”
“The consciousness of the personal and spontaneous… stimulated the artist to invent devices of handling, processing, surfacing, which confer to the utmost degree the aspect of the freely made. Hence the importance of the mark, the stroke, the brush, the drip, the quality of the substance of the paint itself, and the surface of the canvas as a texture and field of operation – all signs of the artist’s active presence….. The impulse . . . becomes tangible and definite on the surface of a canvas through the painted mark. We see, as it were, the track of emotion, its obstruction, persistence or extinction…. (E)lements of so-called chance or accident [are] submitted to critical control by the artist who is alert to the rightness and wrongness of the elements delivered spontaneously, and accepts or rejects them.”
quoted by Irving Sandler in A Sweeper-Up After Artists: A Memoir.