Visual or non-conceptual

I’m really glad to get Peter Stott’s critique of my take on Motherwell. I try to leave openings for argument, and could do with more of that. I share his skepticism about “meaning,” and agree that abstraction is made for the future, when we will see more in it. Or at least that’s one view, and not a new one either. What Stott calls the “visual” is probably close to what I call the non-conceptual. I also make up the story as I go along, but I’m not sure I agree that what Motherwell had in mind is irrelevant. Some of it is for sure, but he very deliberately chose his titles, and the title of the Elegy series, because he knew that his viewers would understand what he meant. That history is remote to us now, but not completely lost. And every abstract artist has to accept the possibility that after all the contingent meanings have faded away, if all we are left with is the visual we may be left with nothing. A certain amount of faith seems to be required.

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