Once only

There’s a lot more to say about time, and a lot that’s important for art, but I would like to talk about my kind of art. I would call it an additive tradition, running from Pollock through Frankenthaler, Louis and then Smithson. Additive because the work can go in one direction only. Pollock, Louis and Frankenthaler can add paint but they can’t take it off. One might characterize each work as going downhill from the start, and so the use of pouring, spilling, dripping, staining and so on is fitting. When I saw Pollock’s Alchemy in the Guggenheim collection in Venice I remember thinking that it was an absolute mess; he saved it with a last layer of sparse white strokes, but just barely.

Jackson Pollock, Alchemy 1947

If adding more paint doesn’t help, nothing can be done but add more. Modernist painters, Cézanne the best example, revise endlessly until they get it right. They change the past in order to arrive at the desired future, and that is a description of more than a technique. In the additive tradition, the method is mortality itself.

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