Is Art Complex?

“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

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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