The Poet and the Painter Swim in the Same Sea

The Poet and the Painter Swim in the Same Sea
Cro-Magnon cave painting from Lascaux, southern France

Cro-Magnon cave painting from Lascaux, southern France

There are strong affinities between the Poet and Painter.

The Poet often speaks with an oblique voice as does the Painter. Neither is looking for one simple answer to the equation of life.

A poem most often has a certain musicality that embraces and works through and around the content of the poem. Poems and songs were first sung or spoken aloud before the written language came along.

Similarly a painting, whether Abstract or Figurative or somewhere in between, has its own musicality. One has to get very quiet to hear it. Whether a later Mondrian or a landscape by Turner, a cave painting of a bison or a Minimalist strip painting by Barnett Newman, there is a strong poetic component to all. Things are not meant to mean only one thing. The reader or listener is encouraged to figure it out. A poem may not mean the same thing to each individual any more than a painting is meant to mean one thing to the viewer, whether that viewer be a collector or simply one who appreciates the painting.

The connections between poet and painter have been noted before, particularly insofar as one often inspires the other.

Piet Mondrian, Composition of Red, Blue, Yellow, and White: Nom II, 1939

Piet Mondrian, Composition of Red, Blue, Yellow, and White: Nom II, 1939

Can it be so? How one viewer perceived my painting

Years ago I did a large Dirty White painting that had a series of oblique forms that moved through the space of the painting. One morning I got a call from a dealer in Houston. He said he had a collector on the hook ready to purchase the piece but there was one problem: they didn’t like the painting of the pig in the lower left corner. I laughed … as far as I knew, there was no painting of a pig anywhere in the painting.  I know this because I made the Painting.

At the same time I think it is possible that a collector saw a pig in the painting and that is fine

by me. We each see what we see in a painting and that is determined by perception and projection.

The music and the dance of poetry and painting intermingle happily as one moves across the shiny waxed floor. Feel the poem, sing the painting.

 

This Is Just To Say
by William Carlos Williams

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

William Carlos Williams,”This Is Just to Say” from The Collected Poems: Volume I, 1909-1939, copyright ©1938 by New Directions Publishing Corp.

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