Earl Hubbard: The Flat Reality

“Until the advent of the photograph, the mainstream of Western art was intentionally figurative. Photography reproduced figures more successfully than art, potentially a devastating blow to art. Some artists reacted by seeking to redefine the purpose of the figurative as the representation, the emblem, of feelings. Other artists point blank rejected the concept that the figurative was the intention of art, and declared that the intention of art was to be non-figurative. They said art didn’t represent anything outside itself-art is for art’s sake.

For a hundred years artists working in the shadow of the photograph have consciously tried to do what a photograph can’t do, even as the photograph was evolving the capacity to do what the artists were doing. Unconsciously, in fighting the photograph, artists were learning to see in ways artists had never seen before. Primarily, the photograph radically altered how artists see foreshortening and perspective. In effect, photography flattened the image of reality. Without the photograph, there never would have been Impressionism, Cubism, Expressionism, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, ,and so on.

One can say that the last one hundred years have been a period of Research and Development in the techniques of art.

This period is now over. Art has now passed over the wall the photograph represents. The challenge is to know what comes after, or beyond, or on the other side, of the photograph. The anatomy of the new art is pattern. There is no foreshortening in pattern. There is no perspective. There are only two dimensions, the dimensions of pattern. Technologies developed over the last hundred years offer to the artist a treasure trove of techniques with which to express his/her view of the new art.

This period is now over. Art has now passed over the wall the photograph represents. The challenge is to know what comes after, or beyond, or on the other side, of the photograph. The anatomy of the new art is pattern. There is no foreshortening in pattern. There is no perspective. There are only two dimensions, the dimensions of pattern. Technologies developed over the last hundred years offer to the artist a treasure trove of techniques with which to express his/her view of the new art.

The art of the last century hasn’t, however, altered the intention of the thousands of years of art that preceded it. Art seeks to affect the viewer.How does the artist of today fulfill that figurative intention? How does the art of today rejoin the mainstream of Western art? That’s the question I seek to answer.”

“Art is as native to the parcel of earth on which it is conceived as the vegetation that naturally grows there. One culture does not transplant to another culture. There are Italians in America but no American-made Italian art. And though we were originally formed as a nation by transplanted Englishmen, we have not produced another English Shakespeare. As potatoes and tobacco are native here, so are comic strips and jazz. As corn is All-American, so is the American movie.

And, as the potatoes, tobacco, and corn plants that were originally weeds through cultivation have become the staples of life we now know and grow, so it is with culture. Native cultures are cultivated from weeds that originate as folk art. Jazz, the comic strip, and the movies are the cultural weeds, the folk arts of America.

Where previous cultures have had folk tales, Americans have movies. The movies of the l930s, l940s, and early 1950s, are folk tales. As folk tales, they deal with the struggle between right and wrong, good and evil. As folk tales, they tell us, Americans, who we are. I, who grew up as an ardent member of the movie generation, have been painting the faces of some of my favorite stars of those early films.

What is distinctive about those faces, what is in fact their star quality, is their reflection of the then American perception of itself as a God-given manifestation of inviolate innocence.”

Art deals with concepts of reality. The last great concept of reality was introduced in the Renaissance. It was the reality of matter. The most influential architect of the three-dimensional reality was Leonardo da Vinci.

The stuff of our 1994 reality, the reality of this Computer-Space-Age, is not matter but ideas. The visualization of an idea is pattern. As a matter of fact, we don’t see three dimensions. We see patterns.

The new anatomy of art is that of pattern.

The evolution of my art has been the evolution of the use of pattern in an effort to picture the reality of our time, Mind.

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