Last week I started watching the “Power of Art” on PBS. I haven’t read the book (though I intend to) and have only seen the 3 episodes that PBS has shown (which is out of order from the original way it was aired on the BBC), Van Gogh, Picasso and Caravaggio.
I am fascinated. I have no background, zero, zip, nada in any kind of art history. Not even a single class, ever, so anything I know about art I have learned through self study. For me, Schama is bringing to life some of the most fascinating western artists in a very different way than a traditional biography. The focus on a single work in each episode is a great summing up of what seems to be at the heart of that particular artist. “David With the Head of Goliath” by Caravaggio is real and disturbing, but even more so when the man behind the brush and his sensationally troubled life is revealed.
I really enjoyed the episode on Van Gogh. I think most people just assume he was the artistic nut who cut off his ear and had some sort of dependent relationship with his brother. But he was so much more than that (and thanks to Schama, I now know that it was just part of his ear, and not the whole darn thing), his art was his sanity and through it we can see how he saw the world.
Not only am I getting great info on these artists and what drove them to create the work they did, but I’m also thinking a bit more on the whole idea of how and why artists are driven to create. And how an artist grows and changes in their work because of the events happening in their lives and their personal relationships and interactions with those around them, as well as with the creative society in which they are a part of.
As I sat on my couch and thought about these things something else occurred to me. Something about those of us who read and participate in the Ragged Cloth Cafe. We’re all on the cutting edge of what could be it’s own artistic movement…perhaps to be categorized and studied in a hundred years by art historians. Textile art is realatively new, as an art form, and not just a craft form, and those working in textiles have the power (see, I’m tying this into “Power of Art”, not just rambling!) to say so much, not only visually, but with the choice of medium.
Just a small thing to think on.
I’ll be watching each episode of “Power of Art” and enjoying learning about the artists, their work, and the power it had for them, their world and for us. And I will more conscious each time I step into my studio of how my own art has a power for me and for those who may see it in the future. I hope that everyone else will also be more conscious of this power, if you’re not already.
Hopefully you’re all watching “Power of Art”!