Monday, April 22, 2019

"Thoughts In An Art Gallery"

To me, a very “Art Gallery”-sounding title, and therefore appropriate.  Although the thoughts themselves may not be.  Actually, there is really just one thought.  Which is coming right up.

We are standing in New York’s Guggenheim Museum for a showing by Swedish painter A. Klint (1862-1944), mistakenly believing we’d be attending a showing by Austrian painter Gustaf Klimt (1862-1918).  

The confusion occurred during our recent reported trip to New York, where we had also mistakenly attended the wrong play on the wrong night.  Although this artistic snafu is understandable as, as you see, they were both born in 1862. 

(Being a complete art-noramus, I knew absolutely nothing about either of those painters.  Dr. M knew a little about one of them.  The one we weren’t seeing.)

I did not like the paintings by A. Klint.  (Nor, more educatedly, did Dr. M.)  This provided me ample opportunity to think, awaiting the appropriate length of time till we could reasonably depart.     
I pondered the difference between painters and TV writers.

A. KLINT:  “So you cannot say my work had no effect on you whatsoever.”

No, and therefore, thank you.

I shall not weigh in with an untutored evaluation of the A. Klint oeuvre.  A Wikipedia inclusion asserts:

“Her paintings, which sometimes resemble diagrams, were a visual representation of complex spiritual ideas.”

Regular séances were also involved in her process.

I immediately wondered, “Did I recall any television writers whose work was influenced by attempts to communicate with the Dead.

My surveying reaction was “No.”

Then I thought, “Here’s where painters and television writers connect”:

Networks and studios always encourage television writers creating new series to “Write what you’re passionate about.”  Which we would do anyway, but still.

That’s the connection between painters and television writers.  Both are inspired to create works based on ideas we are passionate about.
But that’s it.

Because it is understood by both sides, excluded from the network’s and studios’ exhortations to follow our artistic instincts is the unspoken reminder to create shows that will be huge hits and run successfully for five seasons.

That’s the big difference between painters and television writers.  Painters do what they are passionate about.  Period.  TV writers do what they are passionate about… that will sell.

This distinction came to mind at the Guggenheim A. Klint exhibit, as I, a former creator of television shows studying these mystifying paintings wondered,

“What the heck was she thinking!?!

Okay, she was right.  She has a show at the Guggenheim.  But think about it.  A woman stands before a blank canvas and goes,

“I’m going to paint visual representations of complex spiritual ideas!”

Did nobody tell her that wasn’t a wonderful idea?  I mean, she could have easily have bombed out with those “complex spiritual ideas”, and then where is she?

Consider all the great painters, blazing imaginative trails of their own.  Not to mention those dying in impoverished obscurity, painting their impassioned equivalents of “complex spiritual ideas”, and “No sale.”

Where does any painter get the audacity to believe that the groundbreaking path they chose to follow actually is one.

“I shall do a whole painting in ‘dots’.”

"For me, It's splotches."

“It’s not ‘The horse’ that’s important.  It’s the subliminal essence of the horse.”

“‘Geometrical shapes.’  Now that’s painting!

I can imagine the agents of such visionary painters, all of them bald from tearing their hair out because of their clients.

“Nobody wants ‘the subliminal essence of a horse.’  They want a nice horse, hanging
over their fireplace.  Will you please paint the nice horse?


Consider the television equivalent.

PITCHING TELEVISION WRITER:  “It’s a ‘Family Show.’  The parents are white.  Their children are Black, Asian, Native American, and Latino.  Not adopted.  Their actual kids.  A ‘Typical Unit’, symbolizing ‘The Family of Man’.”

The next sound you hear is a network assistant validating your parking as you head for the door, overhearing the post mortem reaction,

“What was that about?”

Television writers, coveting viable careers, do not do that.

Painters?  They jump right off the cliff. 

I do not get it.

You pass a commercial art gallery.  Displayed prominently in the window are paintings of “Battleships at Sea.”  Are you a “sell-out” to paint your best version of “Battleships at Sea”, adding original touches of your own?

If you were a television writer – at a time before Netflix – you were an idiot to do otherwise.

And even with Netflix, who seem to truly want what the writer is passionate about, you can bet some discerning executive’s going,

“I can see what you’re driving at.  But it isn’t quite ‘Netflix’.”

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