on Materials and Aesthetics

May 7, 2009

An excerpt from the book:  Painting in reference to the raw materials and the role of technique in the creation of art by Nicolas Wacker.  Published by Editions Allia, Paris, France.  Translated by Ellen Trezevant.

“All spiritual creation is dependent on its material. Without it, no transmission would be possible. The mystery of art lies in this collaboration between the material with the spiritual. For it is through that, and that alone that communication can be passed. How and at what moment does matter become spirit?

In the creation of art it will always be the material and that alone which stands guard over the precious message of a work of art.  It is through a thorough knowledge of the materials which one wishes to use, applying them at will, and adapting them to each case, that one comes to know the effect that finally can be achieved.”

These words of Wacker resonate so well with my own temperament that I hesitate to add anything of my own.  Yet since they were originally spoken about fifty years ago, the sentiment bears a fresh look.  The contemporary art world now seems to function in a no-holds-barred vacuum.  All forms of expression can be called “art” if they are somehow art: realism, superrealism, photorealism, abstraction, expressionism, naieve, primitive, conceptual, assemblage, installation, video, etc…  What is it that makes the world pronounce the word: ART?

Although the question is rhetorical and cannot be answered in words, for the artist, the magic really happens when the materials they cherish, investigate and use finally resonate to their own inner vibratory truth – whatever that truth may be.  And the closer each individual artist’s truth is to that of the inner truth of humanity – well the greater the chances are that someone, somewhere will call it ART.  Otherwise, there are fads and fashions that will go in and out of style.  My two cents.

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One Response to “on Materials and Aesthetics”


  1. Aesthetics themselves refer to the magical interplay between the medium and the message. When the myth of representation = meaning exploded, many of the tools for rendering external reality got tossed, too. Why so? Has the human condition changed so radically? People are born, live and die – on this earth. Art quite naturally plays a role in how we understand this passage. Responsible use of materials allows not only for these, our musings, to endure but also for the materials themselves to have a say in the matter.


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