I’ve been looking at Tiepolo’s curved frames for a long time, and wanting to use something like that myself, only with an asymmetrical arrangement of curves. I hesitated because I felt that the strong shape would inhibit the Islands. But then T.J.Clark’s essay on Picasso and Nicholson got me thinking about the internal arrangement of a picture, what used to be called “composition,” and what effect that has on how we feel the whole shape. Looking again at Tiepolo I found the way past my own hesitations: the internal arrangement should connect with the outer shape, but only lightly—inside and outside should be partially independent of each other. I decided I’d better make some work, and quickly.
The first piece is clearly derivative of Tiepolo. It’s an oval with circles added at the ends and swung away from the center axis, and with mediating curves and vertices. Here practically all the edges are convex, they expand outwards. That is very interesting, and I would like to make a series of works like this. In smaller works I have a tendency to add more elements. To explore that would bring literature back in to the discussion of scale—for another day. This one is about the same size as my Island Prospects, and would be better, and less crowded, at four times the size.
The second one introduced concave edges.
With the third one I realized that the curves on the edges could be seen as Island shapes as well. That is obvious, but only obvious to me when I finally overcame my doubts and started to make them. The convex “shoulder” on the right makes that part of the ocean come forward pretty strongly—again, an obvious strategy, but one that never occurred to me until now. Can’t think at all without doing. This one is twice the size of the others.
In a way the posts between this one and the first one on Tiepolo have been a kind of stalling, particularly “Shaped Canvas 5&6.” Must not let ideas run ahead of the work.
I know how to scale an image. The point of the shaped canvas is to get the forms into real space. With all that’s been done with shaped canvases over the years, these three studies at first may not seem like anything new, but I can see the possibilities.