EXPRESSIONISTICALLY WE PAINT
When rawness is attenuated
by means of self-control and nuance,
truth, being unexaggerated,
is trusted by the troubled truants
from free expression of emotion,
who otherwise would run for cover
as they would from a poisoned potion.
Expressionistically we paint
our feelings in a foolish way
if we present each raw complaint
in catalogues not raisonnés.
The only certain way for healing
our feelings’ rawness is to show
we can to them be nuanced, dealing
with loudness pianissimo.
Inspired by Roberta Smith’s review of an exhibition at the Neue-Galerie, “Brücke: The Birth of Expressionism in Dresden and Berlin, 1905-1913,” (Guys Who Put Art in Party Animal,” NYT, February 27, 2009):
Kirchner is particularly economical in a full-length portrait of Milly, an African model, and his double portrait of Otto Mueller (who shared much of the Brücke style but only joined its ranks in 1911) and his wife, Maschka. But he’s a spendthrift in “Two Nudes” and “Portrait of a Man (Hans Frisch),” both large, mottled and from around 1907. Here he mixes up a pastiche of Seurat, van Gogh and Matisse and ladles it on with a palette knife. Luckily, this section also includes some of Kirchner’s sculpture: an expressive head and two nudes in carved wood. Here rawness coexists with nuance, distortion with a real sense of gesture and emotion. These works truly dance, and offer further proof that Kirchner’s phenomenal career is a mine of exhibition possibilities….The Brücke approach to art lacked Cubism’s structural clarity or maybe any structure at all. But the movement’s rowdy leaders compensated with attitude, abandon and an unrepentant faith in artworks that were as much events as objects, collisions of a certain personality in a certain mood with a certain kind of material and image. This volatile mixture has been the special pride of German artists ever since, among them Sigmar Polke, Martin Kippenberger and John Bock. But it guides artists everywhere, not just bad boys, in mediums the Brücke never dreamed of.
© 2009 Gershon Hepner 2/27/09