Saturday, March 02, 2013

Explanation for Talent

Read article in Discover Mag.- from early 90's. It's author showed an abstract painting to Willem de Kooning, and asked him what he thought. Willem praised it and it's creator as being brilliant. The (not very nice) interviewer then revealed that he artist was an elephant (or maybe a chimp- I forget which). Anyhow, without missing a beat, and, seemingly, un-embarrassed and sincere- de Kooning responded, "Well, that's a very talented elephant." Talent is in the eye of the beholder- I guess- especially when it comes to the abstract. I don't understand abstract art- I try to- but continually fail. I've seen the "great" works and the up-and-coming works and the amateur works- and don't know why the greats go for millions at the galleries and the amateurs go for pennies at the yard sale (sometimes the lucky buy the greats for pennies at yard sales). I'm thinking abstract art is more accidental in having success, whereas representational or realistic art's success comes from evident intent(?). Did he/she/it mean to do that? Was it skill, or was it luck? I'm not discounting abstract art- I'm just saying I don't know what's good or bad, i.e., I don't understand it.
Anyway, if I had talent, I wouldn't be proud of possessing it- but, instead, I'd be thankful. One has no control over what is in them- it's the luck of the draw (ha). Reminds me of the 60 Minutes piece about "idiot savants". One British fellow, profiled in the show, could not even answer the question posed, "what's your name?"-- but when requested to create and play a piece on the piano as if it were composed by someone equal parts L. Beethoven and B. Bacharach- the guy instantly, with virtuosity, played a number that did just that. Crazy amazing! Then there's a story of a dentist who got struck by lightning, causing his personality to change and for him to be able to play classical piano- something he never knew how to do. Crazy amazing! Looks like all knowledge is within us, and, somehow, just needs to be accessed (Socrates believed this). Anyhow, this world is so darn mysterious or incomprehensible. I don't understand it, but I have faith that it all has meaning.

Willem de Kooning


Willem de Kooning and colleague

Link to explanation