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Posts Tagged ‘Leonard Bernstein’

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We would rather be ruined than changed

We would rather die in our dread

Than climb the cross of the moment

And let our illusions die.

 

–W.H. Auden

Epilogue, The Age of Anxiety

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These words were written by poet W.H. Auden in the aftermath of World War II in his Pulitzer Prize winning poem The Age of Anxiety, a work that later was translated into music in the form of a symphony by Leonard Bernstein  and ballet by Jerome Robbins. I didn’t know much about this work when I stumbled across this short passage and I don’t suppose that its acclaim or history have much to do with the the thought it provokes.

Reading these four lines immediately brought to mind the transitional phase we’re moving through. It is a time fraught with fast moving change and many of the ideals and beliefs that we held onto as absolutes seem fragile and illusory now, if not completely destroyed. It probably felt much like this to many of those who lived through the war years of the 30’s and 40’s. It must feel as though you were attached, with no control at all, to the back of an angry beast who is rampaging. Beliefs are shattered and all you have to hold onto is your fear.

It seems like many of the groups vying to gain power over the direction of the rampaging beast that is this nation lend credence to the words above. They fear and despise the idea of change, even inevitable change, and would rather see the whole shooting match go up in smoke rather than alter their illusions of what we once were or what we could be in the future.

I know this sound somewhat cryptic and I don’t want to blurt out the obvious here right now. Just a thought that rose from the four simple lines above.

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This quote from Leonard Bernstein came back to mind when I recently  ran across this post from several years back.  It’s a big part of what I do and seeing it again serves as a reminder that feeling that sense of place is vital in achieving work that I feel has life in it.  Off the top of my head, I can’t recall where this painting finally found a home but I am hoping it is serving its caretaker as well as it served this post which I am reposting today.
GC Myers - A Strange and Special Air 2011“Any great art work … revives and readapts time and space, and the measure of its success is the extent to which it makes you an inhabitant of that world – the extent to which it invites you in and lets you breathe its strange, special air.”

—Leonard Bernstein

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I came across this quote from Leonard Bernstein that I really thought captured what I hope occurs in my work.  I think that my work is most successful when people allow themselves to feel themselves as part of the landscape before them, to enter and breathe in that strange and special air, as Bernstein describes it.  I know that this is the case for myself.  I have written about this here before, about how these landscapes, with their blue and orange fields and bright red trees, feel as real to me as looking out my studio window.  The fact of the blue in the field is overruled by its harmony within the composition which creates that sense of rightness to which I often refer.

Maybe this sense of rightness is what makes up that strange and special air.  I don’t know. I only know that I still seek words or explanations to describe why a painting works, by which I mean has an emotional impact on the viewer.  The new painting above is such a piece for me. It’s a 15″ by 25″ image on paper that I am calling, thanks to Mr. Bernstein, A Strange & Special Air.

I could sit here and try to break down the painting, talking about color and contrast, texture and depth.  Line quality and composition.  All of the things that I might momentarily consider while I’m at work on such a painting.  But when all is said and done, I still have no idea why it has its own life, its own strange and special air.

Except that I feel that I am there, transported into that strange and special air,  when I look at it.

And glad of it.

Perhaps that is enough and all that needs to be considered. For now, I accept that and will be satisfied to dwell in this landscape with its strange and special air.

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“Any great art work … revives and readapts time and space, and the measure of its success is the extent to which it makes you an inhabitant of that world – the extent to which it invites you in and lets you breathe its strange, special air.”

Leonard Bernstein

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

I came across this quote from Leonard Bernstein that I really thought captured what I hope occurs in my work.  I think that my work is most successful when people allow themselves to feel themselves as part of the landscape before them, to enter and breathe in that strange and special air, as Bernstein describes it.  I know that this is the case for myself.  I have written about this here before, about how these landscapes, with their blue and orange fields and bright red trees, feel as real to me as looking out my studio window.  The fact of the blue in the field is overruled by its harmony within the composition which creates that sense of rightness to which I often refer.

Maybe this sense of rightness is what makes up that strange and special air.  I don’t know.  I only know that I still seek words or explanations to describe why a painting works, by which I mean has an emotional impact on the viewer.  The new painting above is such a piece for me.  It’s a 15″ by 25″ image on paper that I am calling, thanks to Mr. Bernstein, A Strange & Special Air.

I could sit here and try to break down the painting, talking about color and contrast, texture and depth.  Line quality and composition.   All of the things that I might momentarily consider while I’m at work on such a painting.  But when all is said and done, I still have no idea why it has its own life, its own strange and special air.  Except that I feel that I am there when I look at it. 

And glad of it.

Perhaps that is enough and all that needs to be considered.  For now, I accept that and will be satisfied to dwell in this landscape with its strange and special air.

Read Full Post »

We would rather be ruined than changed

We would rather die in our dread

Than climb the cross of the moment

And let our illusions die.

 

–W.H. Auden

Epilogue, The Age of Anxiety

*******************

These words were written by poet W.H. Auden in the aftermath of World War II in his Pulitzer Prize winning poem The Age of Anxiety, a work that later was translated into music in the form of a symphony by Leonard Bernstein  and ballet by Jerome Robbins.  I didn’t know much about this work when I stumbled across this short passage and I don’t suppose that its acclaim or history have much to do with the the thought it provokes. 

Reading these four lines immediately brought to mind the transitional phase we’re moving through.  It is a time fraught with fast moving change and many of the things we held onto as absolutes seem fragile and illusory now.  It probably felt much like this to many of those who lived through the war years of the 30’s and 40’s, as though you were attached, with no control at all,  to the back of an angry beast who is rampaging.  All you have to hold onto is your fear.

It seems like many of the groups vying to gain power over the direction of this rampaging beast of a nation lend creedence to the words above.  They fear and despise the idea of change, even inevitable change, and would rather see the whole shooting match go up in smoke rather than alter their illusions of what we once were or what we could be in the future.

I know this sound somewhat cryptic and I don’t want to blurt out the obvious here right now.  Just a thought that rose from the four simple lines above.

Read Full Post »

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