Painting

  • The Romantic Manifesto
    Painting [re-creates reality] by means of color on a two-dimensional surface.
  • The Romantic Manifesto
    The so-called visual arts (painting, sculpture, architecture) produce concrete, perceptually available entities and make them convey an abstract, conceptual meaning.
  • The Romantic Manifesto
    The visual arts do not deal with the sensory field of awareness as such, but with the sensory field as perceived by a conceptual consciousness.
  • The Romantic Manifesto

    It is a common experience to observe that a particular painting — for example, a still life of apples — makes its subject “more real than it is in reality.” The apples seem brighter and firmer, they seem to possess an almost self-assertive character, a kind of heightened reality which neither their real-life models nor any color photograph can match. Yet if one examines them closely, one sees that no real-life apple ever looked like that. What is it, then, that the artist has done? He has created a visual abstraction.

    He has performed the process of concept-formation — of isolating and integrating — but in exclusively visual terms. He has isolated the essential, distinguishing characteristics of apples, and integrated them into a single visual unit. He has brought the conceptual method of functioning to the operations of a single sense organ, the organ of sight.

  • The Romantic Manifesto

    The closer an artist comes to a conceptual method of functioning visually, the greater his work. The greatest of all artists, Vermeer, devoted his paintings to a single theme: light itself. The guiding principle of his compositions is: the contextual nature of our perception of light (and of color). The physical objects in a Vermeer canvas are chosen and placed in such a way that their combined interrelationships feature, lead to and make possible the painting’s brightest patches of light, sometimes blindingly bright, in a manner which no one has been able to render before or since.

    (Compare the radiant austerity of Vermeer’s work to the silliness of the dots-and-dashes Impressionists who allegedly intended to paint pure light. He raised perception to the conceptual level; they attempted to disintegrate perception into sense data.)

    One might wish (and I do) that Vermeer had chosen better subjects to express his theme, but to him, apparently, the subjects were only the means to his end. What his style projects is a concretized image of an immense, nonvisual abstraction: the psycho-epistemology of a rational mind. It projects clarity, discipline, confidence, purpose, power — a universe open to man. When one feels, looking at a Vermeer painting: “This is my view of life,” the feeling involves much more than mere visual perception.