Monday, July 5

Seeing is believing

Great article in the New Yorker today regarding the methodology of those who authenticate the work of old masters.
The art historian Bernard Berenson described his talent as a “sixth sense.” “It is very largely a question of accumulated experience upon which your spirit sets unconsciously,” he said. “When I see a picture, in most cases, I recognize it at once as being or not being by the master it is ascribed to; the rest is merely a question of how to fish out the evidence that will make the conviction as plain to others as it is to me.” Berenson recalled that once, upon seeing a fake, he had felt an immediate discomfort in his stomach.

I was thinking about it as a nice analogue for how I (or other artists, for that matter) make an artwork. Over a period of time, abstract connections that make sense on what seems to be an instinctual level are made into words. It is almost as if the response to a life load of knowledge can materialize rather quickly, but the means to communicate why that makes sense takes longer than the formulation of the idea itself. To make a unique idea that is unique to an individual universal enough to be communicated is an interesting process, a primary function of the clunky tool we call language.