Grace and Necessity part 1

I found it interesting reading through Rowan Williams highlights of Maritain’s  themes on art. Williams explains how “art is an action of the intelligence and makes claims about how things are.” Art is the mind focused on action (the practical intellect). I feel like sometimes in our culture art is not valued as highly as it should be and is usually not categorized under the label of intelligence. Art is a form of intelligence no doubt, but for some reason, subjects such as science and math always seem to take precedence over art in our culture. Perhaps this is due to the question of what is considered art today? While contemporary art can be engaging and inventive, I feel that some contemporary art has become vague and sometimes thoughtless art and has pushed the borderline of art further and further resulting in a disillusionment of art. Can art be literally anything? Should it be? Has art lost its purpose when people randomly throw together items and label it art or draw a single line on a blank canvas labeling it a masterpiece? Really?

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1) Blank Canvas- Museum of Modern Art

When you think about it, art should be something unique and powerful and it is very different than other subjects because every artwork that an artist produces makes claims about the world and reflects the worldview of the artist that creates it. He goes on to say that art is meant to be thought provoking and to be “absorbed by intelligence, rather than a tool for use in a project larger than itself.” Art is made with intelligence for the purpose of being contemplated by intelligence and “the artist does not set out to change the world, but-if we can manage the paradox- to change it into itself”.  While art represents and reflects the world it does not imitate. This reminds me of a famous painting by surrealist painter Rene Magritte. His image is a painting of a pipe with the words “this is not a pipe” written beneath it. Magritte gets right to the heart of the matter. Although his statement may seem ridiculous it is true. It is a painting of a pipe and not the real thing.

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2) Rene Magritte- This is not a pipe

Every piece of work created makes a statement about the world and every statement, whether it is realized or not is striving for the infinite. Maritian explains how we are finite beings striving and creating to “obtain beauty” but we are always unsuccessful. Because we are finite we cannot comprehend the infinite although we get a glimpse of it in the beauty of the world around us. As artists we reflect the world around us but do not imitate. We cannot create the world again or even a single blade of grass with our own efforts or power, but we can reflect the world through our paintings, drawings, or graphic design. The “wound of knowledge” as Williams’ explains is we see a glimpse of the greatness and infinite transcendence of God and we also see how finite we as human beings are. The purpose of art should open up knowledge otherwise unavailable and invite contemplation as well as action.

I have always been drawn to landscapes with great depth in them. Here is a sketch I made emphasizing how art is reaching toward the infinite. Depth and landscapes speak to me of a greater journey and touch upon Williams' theme of the infinite.
I have always been drawn to landscapes with great depth in them. Here is a sketch I made emphasizing how art is reaching toward the infinite. Depth and landscapes speak to me of a greater journey and touch upon Williams’ theme of the infinite.

 

Sources:

Williams, Rowan. Grace and Necessity Reflection on Art and Love. Morehouse: 2005. Print.

Photo References:

1) http://openplac.es/trips/museum-of-modern-art-in-new-york-ny-1

2)http://enculturation.gmu.edu/3_2/introduction3.html

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3 thoughts on “Grace and Necessity part 1

  1. Excellent thoughts Heidi, I can tell you are really engaging the topics Williams is talking about in a very insightful manner. You “get it.” (-: Your insight that many don’t see artists as “intelligent” is telling and relative. I enjoy your insight with the Magritte painting – you’re right, it’s not a pipe is it? Just a bunch of paint on a canvas, and yet, it does tell us something about the pipe doesn’t it? I like that you commented on the “wound of knowledge” that is a concept I would like to explore more of his. It is a very interesting way of looking at things, and you don’t necessarily think of knowledge or “knowing” as a wound. Nice drawing, and keep up the good work.

  2. You bring up some very good points here. I also feel like contemporary art has really been pushing the boundaries of that should be considered art. It seems like more people are making ironic or sarcastic art just for the sake of proving they can do it, not necessarily for the sake of portraying higher emotions. It seems to me that everyone enjoys art in some form or another, whether they’re businessmen or scientists; it’s just up to artists to carefully decide what they’re trying to convey in their art.
    And nice sketch! I love the shadows 🙂

  3. Heidi I appreciate how you are not afraid to say how it is. “Every piece of work created makes a statement about the world and every statement, whether it is realized or not is striving for the infinite.” This really needs to be brought to the attention of the rest of the world. Your sketch is great and I love how personal it i to you. Thanks for being so honest and putting so much into your work.

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