Two of my favorite artists, Minerva Teichert and Alberto Giacometti, share something wonderful in common. Their work shows evidence of their process – the paintings they make show the careful layering of lines as they find shapes, refine them, and gain confidence as their respective creations emerge. In showing the process, the viewer gets a glimpse into their minds and this becomes a tangible part of appreciation for the painting. In effect, we the viewer are also helping make the painting alongside these artists. I love that idea.
The viewer does help make the painting (sculpture, thing, whatever). Every time we experience the creation of someone else, we take part in its completion – because whatever it is, that creation has been completed only once it gets inside our heads. Maybe “completed” isn’t the right term, more “closer to completion”. The work matures and becomes closer to its ultimate aim when we have it in our heads, participating and grappling with it on the level of our inmost selves.
There are pillars of art, the factors which not only make art “art”, but which also make art worthwhile, and one of these is the connection with audience. A work is never truly complete until that connection is made, and sometimes the audience may very well be only the artist herself, and many times the audience produces a work different (and hopefully bigger) than the work intended by the artist, changing as the audience changes but still having a deep and resonant effect. I imagine the original audience for Michelangelo’s Pieta “completed” the work in a different manner than today’s audiences do, but the impact is still incredibly powerful.
By connecting with the audience, the artist is able to hold a conversation of sorts. Art is a communication of many vocabularies, in a language outside of language, but when a viewer allows the artist’s work to impact him or her, and hold it in the mind, the conversation becomes a real thing deeper than words.
Of course this has little to do with these process photos – I just thought it would be fun to show the different stages of one drawing (kind of like with Merciful).