Warning! Ecstatic art encounter!

Poons_197019

I had a mystical experience with a painting yesterday. Larry Poons’s Han-San Cadence is marvelous. No photograph can do it justice. It’s almost laughable how this looks on the screen. In person, it’s 6′ high and 12′ wide. The disks are almost sculptural on top of the ethereal golden background and the complimentary colors cause the entire surface to dance before your eyes. The size makes it a complete environment. It’s on view in Color as Field at the Denver Art Museum and I can’t wait to go see it again.

I love these surprises. After a weekend of reading my entire book out loud (out loud!) and spending yesterday morning proofreading the index, I needed to get out. I wasn’t expecting a Wow moment, but I had one. Its moments like these that give you a jolt and make you darned happy to be an artist or at least working with artists. I all them Ecstatic Encounters, after an NPR interview I heard with Frank Stella, when he was talking about experiencing Barnett Newman’s paintings.

By the way, the Poons painting is in the collection of the Des Moines Art Center–a fabulous museum to visit if you’re anywhere nearby.

Care to share what makes you ecstatic to be an artist?

Image: Larry Poons, Han-San Cadence. Collection of the Des Moines Art Center. (No copyright credit given.)

Send to Kindle

14 comments to Warning! Ecstatic art encounter!

  • Hi Alyson, I appreciate this post about “ecstatic moments” because I recently had one when I visited the Monterey Museum of Art’s Christel Dillbohner exhibit. In addition to displaying exquisitely subtle paintings, Dillbohner was commissioned to install her work “Skimming the Surface”. The commissioned installation is suspended from the ceiling with filaments and you can walk or sit around it. You can move through the piece. A very cool element is the effect the movement of the viewer has on the cones. On many dimensions the installation connects with the audience and the space is transformed into a interactive environment. -but that connection is quiet and subtle. I left the space with such tranquil feeling. This was the first installation that I felt a connection with. It gave me a glimpse of the power behind this type of work to create environments within a space. I encourage you to go see the exhibit or at least listen to the “Skimming the Surface” podcast about the show. To learn more about “Skimming the Surface”, visit my blog post: http://mediciclub.blogspot.com/2007/11/christel-dillbohner-lectures-monterey.html

  • Isn’t it wonderful? I had that reaction to Barnett Newman, after shrugging off the suggestion from a friend I went to an exhibition on my own at the Tate and had what must be near a religious experience. Though it’s not a word that had occurred to me before, “environment” is exactly what I felt and hopeful something I’m trying to achieve myself. Thanks for the link to the NPR interview. Sounds like I need to visit Philadelphia and Denver!

  • When I lived in New York and frequented museums and galleries where I could spend time with Newman, Rothko, and others, the ecstatic experience of their presence was a regular part of my life. I spent hours of ecstasy with the Matisse retrospective in the early 90s. Caravaggio awed me at the Met. The moment of art ecstacy that changed my life and my work was the show of terrcotta studies by Bernini and his studio at the Fogg at Harvard, in the late 90s. It was easy to tell the Master from the studio works. His were alive. I rounded a column and saw her, an angel or some heavenly being bursting from another dimension through the portal of a simple terra cotta tablet. I became a sculptor in clay.

  • I’m old school. The art I’ve been most moved by is the old stuff. First time I saw the Venus de Milo in person, I was amazed at how breathtaking it is. Photos of it do not do it any justice.

  • Just have to say… I LOVE term “ecstatic art encounter.” Thank you for brightening my day! :)

  • I am ecstatic to be an artist because I am acknowledging my nature.

  • why oh why couldn’t you have included a link to that beautiful image of his? images of that style of his work are hard to come by on the net any more

  • OOPS ! spoke too soon. Thank You so much for including that link. sure wish he or someone would do work like this today

  • Princess, Tina, Carla, and Daniel: Thanks for sharing your ecstatic encounters. Laura: You can use the term. Just remember me when you do. :)

  • Anita

    I’ve had those ecstatic moments in front of a Monet, Bonnard or Sorolla. But the most recent winner: Manet’s shimmering Bar at the Folies Bergere. How amazing is that brushwork, the glow of the skin and the lights, the textures! I never paid much attention to his stuff in art history classes but slides don’t do justice to this painting either…in fact, many pieces I’ve seen look much better in person.

  • I just wanted to take a minute to tell you what makes me ecstatic to be an artist- The look on someone’s face who gets My work and buys it. To me there is nothing greater.

  • Cyn

    One Ecstatic Moment I had was in college painting class in the 90s. We’d been assigned to copy a “master” to learn techniques, and basically how to ‘see’. I flipped through a big art book in the Library and found Portrait of a German Officer by Marsden Hartley and knew I wanted to copy that one. I had to argue with the instructor that I considered Hartley a “master” and won, so I painted away happily with good results. Then later in the semester we all got to take a bus trip to NY and at the Met I rounded a corner in one gallery and came face to face the the original! It stunned me all over again because in person is was so much MORE! I researched more about the artist and recently, many years after the first event, my husband and I got to see a show of his works at the Wadsworth Atheneum and were blown away all over again! So that was Three Ecstatic Moments by one artist!

  • What makes me ecstatic to be an artist? It’s the door that flings itself wildly wide, blazing white heaven rushing in at me flowing with love, clamoring with images and knowings, making my right hand impatient to move faster and my left to grab a pastel and all of a sudden I am ambidextrous while the faeries sing hallelu. When I do my art I am in heaven. Thanks for the question.

  • What makes me ecstatic to be an artist? It’s the door that flings itself wildly wide, blazing white heaven rushing in at me flowing with love, clamoring with images and knowings, making my right hand impatient to move faster and my left to grab a pastel and all of a sudden I am ambidextrous while the faeries sing hallelu. When I do my art I am in heaven. Thanks for the question.