Gilded Owl Exhibition
July 18, 2016
Like most artists, I look to the past – to see how it was done, for inspiration, and for guidance.
Increasingly, in recent years I have looked to the early Renaissance – probably kicked back further than I was looking before by the acquisition of the Duccio Madonna by the Metropolitan Museum some years ago. This simple tiny picture of the Madonna and Child – of which there are many – especially struck home because of the tiny gesture of the child’s raising its finger – a simple gesture, yet a departure, in expression, and a most moving one. How very much feeling there is in Duccio! Even the simplest compositions, like the depiction of Jesus and the fisherman in the National Gallery in Washington, are full of simple, and honest, emotion.
This is belief, and it is found, similarly, in the Books of Hours and Breviaries of the Middle Ages, in the simple color plates of adorations and other depictions in these Psalters, made by humble artists, and meant for clergy and lay alike – so honest, so simple…
Was there another time when such feeling triumphed in art?
I think the Annunciations, in particular, found their way, compositionally, into my work: this is why there is duality in many of my pictures, a right and left side. In thinking about it, it struck me that the improbable meeting of the Heavenly and the Human must have seemed to the artists of the time something so inexplicable as to be almost undepictable. And yet, they tried, in their way, to show these otherworldly creatures coming to the awestruck woman (can we even imagine such an encounter?) who is, for the most part, dumbstruck.
I love the Greeks, and all times, in art, where the form, in its highest development and true feeling merge into one. But in an overly mechanistic and technological age, it seems right to be drawn to those periods in art richest in feeling. And all that I have learned in life about human emotion seems to me to be the richest source, now, for us, in art.