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Two forms of judgement: forgiving and demanding

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I want to explore here the stark and unmendable gap between run-of-the-mill paintings like Mukho’s, Laurent’s, and Adams’s, on the one hand, and the paintings that have found places in textbooks of twentieth-century art on the other. I have chosen three marine painters, but the pattern I have in mind recurs in many kinds of painting throughout the world. Such painting is caught between two extremes. On the one hand, it is virtually certain to be ignored by academic art history. It will not be mentioned in classes in the local university, it won’t be the subject of scholarly articles written by art historians, it won’t be included in the next survey of twentieth-century art. The discipline of art history maintains strict silence about the mass of ordinary production. It can be challenging to look at a marine painting as the artist would have wanted, and it can be intellectually fascinating to compare such painting to other practices and understand exactly why it is marginal or belated. The difficult question is this: why only two modes of judgement, forgiving and demanding? Why do those two pull like magnets on any interpretation, making all compromises seem unstable?

Keywords: Leningrad; Modern painting; Modernism; aesthetic; marine

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/jvap.3.1.37/0

Affiliations: School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Publication date: March 1, 2004

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  • The domain of visual art hosts a multitude of artistic forms and practices. The Journal of Visual Art Practice supports research across the entire range of this varied field. The journal engages with the progressive nature of the subject, reflecting upon the changing terrain of art in recent years.
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