Saturday, May 22, 2021

The progression of art


I have an old memory of a book, possibly one of those Time/Life ones, about the mind and about mental illness, that examined a noted painter who went slowly mad. It showed his paintings of his cat as he was losing his mind. The paintings started out very beautiful and naturalistic, moved into something wild and expressive, and ended in a rough, psychedelic explosion that was barely cat-like at all.

I have been reflecting upon this as I work through my latest pictures of irises. 

I have now been avidly photographing for well over a year, and since I am very much of a nature photographer I have been cycling through the regular seasonal phenomenon in a second round of photographic encounters; the Spring robins, magnolias, duck couples, baby squirrels, tulips, lilacs, and now irises.

This will be easier to show you.

Here is one of my earliest pictures of an iris, where I was simply satisfied to record a fair image of the flower:

From here I moved more closely in, intrigued at the prospect of filling more of the frame with the complexity and beauty of the flower's detail and elegance:

This close up view intrigued me. With light and intimacy I could pursue the more expressive aspects of the flower:

But by now I felt like I was driving to the inner secrets of the flower, and I longed to pull them forth:

What if I could extract the very soul of this masterpiece of nature!!!!

What if I could peer into its distorted heart?

Could I even break it down into the very constituency of its atoms, becoming like a god in my scrutiny and reassembly of its secret universe!!!!!!

On the other hand maybe the whole thing is simply a natural progression. Maybe I just like to explore new ways of looking.

Not that I am any kind of a Picasso, but here is a very early Picasso:

And here's another one from much later in his career:

Maybe I already have a picture of an iris, dozens, but I still want to keep photographing them.

On the other hand, maybe I'd just like a cat...

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