|Posted by Anna Belleforte on June 15, 2017 at 4:30 PM|
A final tourist stop at Vaux-le-Vicomte, the precursor to Versailles, built by Louis XIV’s finance minister. I’m of two minds. The ridiculous opulence of it all. It’s what happens when someone has too much money, or rather, access to too much money since it was embezzled from taxpayers (for which he was fortunately jailed). But then, how amazing that creativity was funded and given free reign; architect, artist and landscaper working from scratch to create a kind of perfection in their time. Inside I was most drawn to the furniture and its total outmodedness: daybeds, skinny-legged writing desks, cabinets with a hundred tiny drawers. One such cabinet had splices of polished rock, framed as special features, which had the look of tonal landscapes. It’s interesting that in the 17th century, an age of realistic painting and portraiture, they recognized a sort of abstract art in these.
It is the tangible aspects of making art that appeal to me most: lines (clean or broken), creating tonal contrasts, making marks, mixing colours and seeing what happens… while I struggle most with the intangible: deriving purpose out of these actions and injecting or uncovering ‘meaning’ in the art, which seems to be what the art world deems necessary. (Though I do believe the meaning is often attached by others in that art world after the making.) But these 17th century designers weren’t at all concerned with this. They just put the materials they worked with out there, in the best possible light. Purely for the visual pleasure of it. If there is such a thing as universal beauty, then I believe it is what results from human hands crafting materials from their surroundings, which can take any number of forms but will never fail to be visually appealing to the human eye.