Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Serendipity strikes again -- looking up a date and finding an ekphrastic poem along the way

Looking It Up and Finding an Ekphrastic Poem Along the Way
"Red, Yellow, Blue II," Ellsworth Kelly, 1965, Milwaukee Art Museum

I'm a pushover for primary colors, especially in combination, so it's not surprising that I've always loved this Ellsworth Kelly work at the Milwaukee Art Museum. I was going to post this photo, but then wanted to add the work's date, and so I went to Google.

I found the date, alright, but I also found an ekphrastic poem -- one that is written in response to a work of art and tries to capture its spirit or essence. The poet, James Gapinski, thinks of Kelly's three colored rectangles as imprisoned within white, close but unable to touch or even really meet.. This inspired Gapinski to write "The Color of Life," which is about two people in an analogous situation. I enjoyed the poem and thought I'd pass on a link to a post at the JSOnline art blog, Art City, where you can read both the poem and Gapinski's essay about it.

There's also a link to an earlier post about the huge controversy that ensued when a suburban mommy blogger posted indignantly on her family blog about the same work, which she encountered on a visit with her young daughter, and which she described as "those primary colored rectangular pieces of crap."

It's sort of touching that they care so much about a 45-year-old modernist painting as to argue about it fiercely in Milwaukee -- where, apparently, one person's crap is another person's poem.

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