Saturday, February 18, 2012

saying nothing

Ludwig Wittgenstein: “In art it is hard to say anything as good as: saying nothing.” (In Culture and Value, trans. P. Winch (Chicago: The Chicago University Press, 1984), p.23.)

Wittgenstein can obviously not mean that a blank page is poem or that a blank canvas is a painting – let alone captivating works of art – but what he could mean is that artists should stop producing cynical art just to feed the hungry beasts (their ego, their wallet, etc.) – the spot paintings by Damien Hirst come to mind (shown simultaneously at the eleven braches of Gagosian Gallery). The art market gone wild wasn’t an issue in Wittgenstein’s time. A better explanation, therefore, is that he urges artists to show and not to tell. But, to be honest, what Wittgenstein really means is a mystery to me.

Image: Damien Hirst, ‘Vipera Lebetina’, 2012, silkscreen print with glaze (70x63.5cm).

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