Friday, June 10, 2011

Robert Motherwell: Open

Today's art book is Robert Motherwell: Open. Spending some time with this volume made me realize a couple of things. One, I love classic Abstract Expressionism. It's not something I give much thought to, most of the time--my work keeps me mostly focused on Contemporary rather than Modern art. But it's there. Just sitting quietly in the background, waiting for it's chance to come forward--a book, a museum visit--a deep affection for these sorts of paintings. And the examples in this book are just wonderful. Really beautiful stuff. The second thing this book made me realize, though, is that I have a pretty major complaint about a certain ilk of serious art monograph. Namely: too many words and not enough pictures. When the essays in an art book are taking up as many, if not more, pages than the images--well, to me that seems like a problem. I feel a little bit about it the way I do about short stories. I really just cannot read short stories. I want to grab the author by the lapels and shake him and say "Where's the rest? More, More! Give me my damn novel!" This is the same thing, only in reverse--I want fewer words, not more. What I want more of is paintings. Now, granted, a book like this, that's about a particular series, is limited by the number of pictures the artist made in that series. But then the solution should be: fewer pages in the book. Otherwise you end up feeling the same way you do when you're walking down the street and you see a baby carriage coming, only to discover as you pass by that the baby is hidden from the world by a screen of blankets and you don't get to see her: ripped off. Of course, in the end, the wonderfulness of these pictures more than makes up for my gripes about the book. Take a look:

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