Planning

In the previous post, with reference to Frank Stella, I mentioned planning. That can be a very pleasurable activity in art—to project an image, then work out how to get it, the procedures, the methods, the materials. Of course, all artists know the difference between the project and the result, and how to make failure pay off. The new might even be defined as what lies in the gap between the plan and its realization. The question is how much of the work is ready-made, or dependent on concepts. Those might be called dead spots in the plan, or derivative elements in the final work. I tend to describe geometry that way, though there may be a different way to see it. So planning is future oriented, and realization is a back and forth in time, or better, a turning of perspective from forward to backward, and round again, with corrections made. Such is classic modernism, and the biggest problem in Stella’s work is the (apparent) lack of corrections. He has other resources, but it might be that his work is all projection, an open-ended pursuit of a new idiom. The diagrammatic quality makes the work like a proposal for a future art. This is admirable, but then the future is perhaps deferred.

Frank Stella, Union I 1966

This topic might seem to be a swerve away from titles and other literary supplements, but I’m thinking about how the use of a backstory directs our attention into the past. It’s hard not to feel that the artist who depends on a backstory has no future in view.

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