“Great art is, by definition, complex…”
(David Zwirner, “Art Is How We Justify Our Existence,” 5-22-20)
Says who?* A thing, by definition, doesn’t define itself; its definition is a human construct — like art itself.
Religions are complex. Christianity, for example, embosoms a Trinity, an angelology with a ninefold celestial hierarchy, and persons called vaticanologists.
Is “Las Meninas” complex, or is it virtuosic — an exemplar of radical skill in the service of simplicity? Great art has a directness that can feel so massive it forces us to shift into a lower gear to pull it.
Zwirner bounces back insightfully at the end of his essay. He mentions how, during the lockdown, he has contacted many artists in their studios.
… I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was interrupting them. They had more important things to do than talk to me. They were making art.
*David Zwirner is an art dealer with galleries in New York, London, Paris, and Hong Kong.
(c) 2020 JMN