Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 61

“…the goal of art is to put the spectator in a state of a mathematical quality, that is, a state of an elevated order.

To conceive, it is first necessary to know what one wishes to do and to specify the proposed goal; to know if one wishes to settle for pleasing the senses,

or if one wishes the painting to be a simple pleasure for the eyes, or to know if one wishes to satisfy the senses and the mind at the same time.”

Le Corbusier and Amédée Ozenfant’s “Purism (1921) – Modern Artists on Art, Edited by Robert L. Herbert

Is a piece of art tasteful?

What exactly does tasteful mean?

I got to thinking again about what Rex Brandt (1914-2000) wrote in his seminal instruction book, Watercolor Technique in 15 Lessons (1948 – Reinhold Publishing) that, painting is communication or decoration.  Communication is concerned with ideas.  Decoration embellishes a surface.

Decoration may be judged by the presence or absence of taste, which is as enigmatic as beauty.   The manner or method of communication may also be judged as tasteful or otherwise.

What is taste?  According to the dictionary, it’s all about… distinguishing the flavor of something by taking into the mouth.

It’s to sample by eating or drinking (sipping) a small quantity of food.  Taste is also about partaking of or, experiencing something, especially for the first time.

We perceive things by the use of our sense of taste.  We experience or enjoy or, partake either firsthand.  Ah, to taste of the life of the true artist!  How about the skill or ability in discerning what is, or what is not, aesthetically excellent or appropriate?

Some people, it is said have taste.  While for others, it’s all in their mouth.  Humm, a compliment for some perhaps and an insult to most.

But, is having taste a sense of what is proper or that which is least likely to give offense in any social situations or just good upbringing or manners?  Do you need taste to either appreciate or dismiss this old piece of mine?

No Title 10" X 12" Mixed Media on Canvas 1980
No Title
10″ X 12″
Mixed Media on Canvas

Is it, …”a simple pleasure for the eyes”?  Does it, “…satisfy the senses and the mind at the same time”?

Here are some opinions of the luminarium of history about taste

Love of beauty is taste.  The creation of beauty is art.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

A man of great common sense and good taste – meaning thereby a man without originality or moral courage.
George Bernard Shaw

What lies at the heart of every living thing is not a fire, not warm breath, not a ‘spark of life.’  It is information, words, instructions.”                                                                                  Richard Dawkins

Taste cannot be controlled by law.
Thomas Jefferson

One cannot develop taste from what is of average quality but only from the very best.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Good taste is the first refuge of the non-creative. It is the last-ditch stand of the artist.
Marshall McLuhan

My favorite Art Historian Ernst Fischer said, “The usefulness of a work of art is determined not by its capacity to satisfy a determinate human need, but by its capacity to satisfy the general need that man feels to humanize everything he comes in contact with…

Art is the creation of objects that essentially satisfy only spiritual needs; that is, these objects are distant not only from direct, physical, immediate needs, but also from the practical needs that are satisfied by the products of labor.”

“…work for an artist is a highly conscious, rational process at the end of which the work of art emerges as mastered reality – not at all a state of intoxicated inspiration.”

Taste – try, experience and have a sense of what is right for you!


Posted on: 25/06/2013, by :
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