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Painting’s Temporary Equilibrium

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Eleanor Ray examines the "temporary equilibrium" achieved in great painting. In particular Ray discusses this quality in the work of Philip Guston, Stanley Lewis, and Giorgio Morandi.

Morandi, she writes, "brings painting to the edge of representation, painting objects so simple that they are nearly reduced to shapes and lines, but never are. He locates the power of a line in the tension between its simplicity as a mark and its existence as something else — the space between two boxes or fingers. We can’t see a line or a shape in his still life as merely what it is because we can’t separate it from its participation in the painting’s representation. The language of painted notation disappears when you try to isolate it."

Lewis achieves an equilibrium, she notes, "between matter and imaginative experience, between a teeming surface and a spatial world. We can’t fix what we see into paint or image alone, or force it into schematic generality; it remains hidden in its particularity."

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