Drawing parallels and differences with/between painting and music helps to understand both. The reader will excuse me from drawing from, and referring to, my own experience, because that’s the only source of originality a webmaster has to offer.
Picasso fought a lifelong battle against lovelyness in his art. Partly that’s due to the time in which he was formed as an artist. During the course of the 19th century beauty in art as a goal in itself had become the target of art philosophers and a whole generation of artists had to disavow a style of painting with which they were brought up. That’s why, for instance, Munch’s famous painting The Scream looks so pale (it looks ok on photos in which the saturation of the colors has been enhanced), because he would delibaretely expose his paintings to direct sunlight, so that the colors would lose their permanence. He would refer to his paintings as his children and by treating them rough they would learn to fend for themselves, as he put it, by which he meant that they had to be judged on the basis of their intrinsic artistic quality, not on manneristic properties. Likewise he would take his paintings outside during the winter, exposing them to rain and snow, leading to open-air exhibitions in his garden which must have seemed surreal. At one time his dog ran through one of his paintings.
While signing lithographs Picasso would hold his pen in such an unatural way that the effort it took him to sign, gave his authograph more character, thus avoiding facility, even in his signature. Facility was exactly what Picasso and his peers were trying to avoid, but in Picasso’s case there was probably another factor.
At 15 years old Picasso was already an accomplished figurative painter, working at a professional level, so as a beginning artist he was motivated by the emotions of a child and children are usually not concerned with artistic depth. They just want to make art that is good and fun and perhaps beautiful. You evolve as you grow up, but also, to an extent, elaborate on what you did as a child. There are certain childhood habits you can’t kick and in Picasso’s case lovelyness in art was probably one such habit.
Van Gogh was an adult when he started to paint at 27 years old and had gone through his “moulting period”, as he called it, in which he became dissillusioned with the established values of the world of his father. Needless to say Van Gogh never had any problems with “lovelyness”.
Mozart was a genius composer, but it seems to me that throughout his life he kept doing what he was supposed to do as a Wunderkind: entertain people. During the past decades the center of gravity in the world of music has shifted from Mozart (whose name had always been synonymous with music) to composers like Bach, whose music has more artistic depth.
So I conclude that technically it pays to start learning art at a young age, but artistically you develop childish habits that you never quite get rid of.
I came to this conclusion be analyzing my own development, so those that are interested in famous artists only, will be excused from here on.
As a teenager I was a hopeless romantic and for me music was an exercise in sentimentality. Today I battle against sweet melodies in a way similar to Picasso fighting lovely pictures. In painting I have no such problem, in line with the above-mentioned line of thought, because I started to paint at 26. As a painter I will happily be an aesthetic, but in music I’m a candy machine, although there are ways to emphasize the expressive aspect.
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