When I was a student at Art Center School we in the Industrial Design Department had a bit of an attitude about fine art. To us it was a branch that was highly suspect. Basically fine art was either hyped, high priced, or underwhelming.
At the same time I was attracted to the natural joy of drawing and painting. I stole the time to indulge and immerse myself in the challenges, and I fell in love with fine art. She was at first and perhaps always a cranky mistress, but I came to worship her as a goddess. It never ceased to surprise me how much one might learn about her.
During the last while I’ve been revisiting Alfred Sisley. By his own admission he was among the least of the impressionists. While driven for most of his life by the need to put bread on the table for his family, he nevertheless placed the gentle smile of civility and pride in his paintings. He let the light, the sky, the sweet Frenchness be his principal actors. Benign, soft, muzzy and minimal, he extracted a lot from little, was a master of the delicate color and played a compromise between the picturesque and the anti-picturesque. His was the understatement of the evening breeze. His preliminary pencil sketches, marvels of economy, are lessons for the compositional eye. There are probably thousands of painters living today who are better than Sisley, but that’s not the point; he’s there in the galleries and museums, the books and the scholarship. His work is a wonder, and it’s all so deceptively simple.
Andy Warhol said, “First there is art, and then there’s business art.” In someone like Sisley, it was intertwined. I’m one of those who doesn’t think there’s much wrong with that. Speaking of business, you can read an amazing range of opinion and information on the Internet art business by having a look at responses to my last letter.
PS: “We don’t make movies to make money; we make money so we can make more movies.” (Walt Disney)