Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Abandoned Lot or Prime Real Estate?

Sometimes it is what is between the "important" information in a work of art that really packs a punch!

Sculpture Doris Salcedo stacks over 1,550 chairs between two buildings via
This concept spans across artistic forms. I just learned about Derek Attridge's idea of "unrealized/virtual beats" in poetry. To say it simply, these are rests in a four beat line. They act like actual beats even though they are really silences between words.

I had almost forgotten (rest)
That words were made for rhyme: (rest)
And yet how well I knew it -- (rest)
Once upon a time! (rest)

(This example is of a Christopher Morley's poem from The Anthologist)

One of the most spectacular examples of this idea in dance is STOMP. Have you seen it? You should. It's kind of indescribable, but basically involves choreographed percussion, extreme movement and everyday objects. Its basis is beat, but its pauses make those beats all the more powerful.

John Singer Sargent

One of the first lessons a visual artist learns involves the concept of negative space or the "blank" areas between the subject of an artwork and the image edge. It takes a surprising amount of skill and courage to concentrate as much on these spaces as on the subject itself, but doing so can energize an otherwise simple artwork. Sargent chose to turn the potential "abandoned lot" of the background in this painting into "prime real estate."  By fusing the darkness of the background with the negative shapes of the shadows on the figure, he creates the essential drama of this piece. The "empty" areas are at least as crucial as the detailed sections.

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