These first months on the course have been a real journey, I would say more than I expected. I started this journey in July like someone who has more or less always intensively enjoyed art but did not not have any formal tools nor had ever studied it in earnest and/or according to a method of learning.
To me art had always basically meant painting and sculpture, mostly modern and contemporary, with an occasional foray into other media and in design. One day, on reading Chapter 2 of Art History: the Basics I clearly realized that my appreciation and understanding of art had been mostly of a formalist aesthetic nature – the enjoyment of a composition or of a colour scheme – with little thought given to the reasons behind a piece, its context, or the political and social environment in which it had developed.
And in these months I have come to know that approaching a piece involves a lot of work and study, as well as patience, dedication and time. It has been quite hard but also very rewarding and I noticed that I have already started to see exhibitions with a different spirit now that I am beginning to understand what to look for.
Looking back at the artists I had a chance to study within this course some of them have certainly resonated with me.
First of all Duchamp. I loved him already for his innovative mind and wild freedom of expression but I had not fully grasped how fundamental and revolutionary he has been as an artist, how many seeds he has sown that are still alive and inspiring today, a full century later.
Katie Paterson is a contemporary artist that I find particularly engaging emotionally and not only conceptually. As I said when I considered Vatnajökull (the sound of) and her other pieces I have been entranced by her rich inspiration and the poetic strength of all her projects: everything she does seems simple and powerful at the same time, her ideas forceful and realized with an apparently effortless economy of means.
Alighiero Boetti and Nathan Coley have inspired me in other ways. As different as they are, I admire the capacity of both to develop a concept fully and deeply, their willingness to explore their personal vision along several pathways and reflectively develop it layer after layer through the years, and so to create both of them a body of work that is consistent, coherent and truly meaningful.
Also Longplayer by Jem Finer, although really a difficult piece to study, is very interesting. It was the first time that I have been confronted with such a complex sophisticated work combining a great number of media, subject matters, locations, elements, possible interpretations. I think that this is contemporary art at its best: it is conceptual, emotional, collective, multi-layered, multi-media, open art, it may be experienced in a plurality of ways and locations, it is almost mind-boggling in its multiplicity I think.
Pooke, G. and Newall, D. (2008) Art History: The Basics. [Kindle Edition] From: Amazon.it (Accessed on 04.08.16, pos. 973-1349)