Paul O’Kane

The secret life of objects in the immanent art of Morandi: Or: How art shows us how to write about art if we only let it1,2

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Communication

In this example of relatively long-form art writing, the writer begins by relaying an anecdote regarding a difficult interaction with an editor. As this rocks the confidence of the writer, they try to rally themselves but seeking out an almost arbitrary receptor for their art writing skills and passions. This turns out to be a concurrent exhibition of the paintings of Giorgio Morandi. The piece describes the writer’s feelings, as well as the journey to the gallery, and ultimately creates a form of review or representation of the exhibition. However, the initial impulse for the piece remains and is returned to in a series of analyses of the writer’s method. This includes a candid exploration of the writer’s considerations of the place of judgement in their own and in contemporary art writing. Ultimately, the piece toys with the idea that, in an age of ambivalence, in which judgements all too easily seem all too harsh, it might just be the use of adjectives that are sufficient to betray an art writer’s evaluation of what they are otherwise simply describing. While the initial criticism by an editor involved the concept of transcendence, the art writer takes this accusation on board and tries, again candidly, to judge themselves, and for themselves, with regard to this concept. Ultimately, they find that, far from leaning towards transcendent values in art they are in fact committed to forms of immanence. Along the way other artists, including Cezanne and De Chirico, as well as other thinkers such as Deleuze and Alfred Jarry are utilized to develop the lines of thought. Ultimately, and rather obliquely, the piece becomes a response to the editor’s riposte and appears to succeed, to some extent, in re-founding the writer’s confidence in their own methods and beliefs, to which they have been led by their own approach to art writing, and of course by the art itself.

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