In his book From Renoir to Picasso (published in French in 1954, translated into English 1957 for Houghton Mifflin), artist and writer Michel Georges-Michel narrates an anecdote of Renoir then already confined to a wheelchair painting a landscape that he was looking at through his studio window and muttering to himself as he painted, “Merde, but it’s beautiful! Merde, but it’s beautiful!”
After seven years studying photography and visual art I am not sure I have become an artist but I know what led me to try to become one: Merde, but it’s beautiful!
Does someone become an artist? Can one become what he or she is not? For me it is all about this love for visual images, whether the tiny details of a flower’s sexual organs, a human face or gesture or the farmland and cityscapes of Indiana where I live. If we didn’t have eyes there would be no visual artists! Having said that I also know so many of us live taking what our eyes convey to our brains for granted. They see for information, not for joy.
When I write I tend to ridiculously bathetic lyricism that I should probably avoid – because it does not translate well! So here tonight I try to explain why the emotionalism: the world is too beautiful for words. Only a mystical, lyrical response does it justice.
Unless, of course, we are artists, gifted with talent as well as gift for conveying a moment’s experience through suggestion, allusion, subtext, cultural and psychic symbolism — the vocabulary of craft through the ages!