A favorite instagram is gallerist Brett Gorvy’s, which pairs an artist and his/her work with a poem. It makes for a powerful dose of illumination. Take this sublime photograph by the great photojournalist Harry Benson*, of a young Brice Marden painting with a long-handled brush, illuminated, as if by fireworks, by You Begin, a poem by Margaret Atwood. Perfection.
You begin this way:
this is your hand,
this is your eye,
that is a fish, blue and flat
on the paper, almost
the shape of an eye.
This is your mouth, this is an O
or a moon, whichever
you like. This is yellow.
Outside the window
is the rain, green
because it is summer, and beyond that
the trees and then the world,
which is round and has only
the colors of these nine crayons.
This is the world, which is fuller
and more difficult to learn than I have said.
You are right to smudge it that way
with the red and then
the orange: the world burns.
Once you have learned these words
you will learn that there are more
words than you can ever learn.
The word hand floats above your hand
like a small cloud over a lake.
The word hand anchors
your hand to this table,
your hand is a warm stone
I hold between two words.
This is your hand, these are my hands, this is the world,
which is round but not flat and has more colors
than we can see.
It begins, it has an end,
this is what you will
come back to, this is your hand.”
We love the image in part because it is yet another example of an artist using a long-handled paint brush, an idea we’ve long been smitten with. The work made with a brush or crayon strapped to a pole invariably has a subtle feeling of liberation. (Is that what the artist experiences as well?)…
…David Hockney in an empty swimming pool
…Henri Mattise drawing on a wall from his bed…
Otto Zitko with his wondrous scraggles.
Their gestures seem riskier, at once out of, and in, control…
Brice Marden, 1991 by Harry Benson for sale at Artsy.