Is it Good Art?

I am often asked about the value of works of art: "Just 'cause it's a Jackson Pollock they can ask a gazillion dollars for it? Once you're famous you can get away with anything!" I say just forget about it; stop thinking about ideas around the art and start really looking at the art.


There's a Richard Kemble in the shop. There is also one in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Now I have your interest. But is our Richard Kemble unremarkable, fabulous, or somewhere in between?


Richard Kemble, The Tides Ragged Edge

It is big. And that is important. A small work can draw you in, establish a sort of intimacy with you. A big work can engulf you; the room becomes the work of art, and you are in it. This big Kemble dominates the room - and it is intimate. What?


It makes sweeping gestures with bold fields of color. But it is not a painting; it is a woodblock print. The image was carved into a series of wood blocks to which ink was applied and then each block in succession was applied to the paper - in this case very thin rice paper. The registration is the difficult part - aligning the blocks properly with the paper so that there is no overlap of colors or bleeding of ink into neighboring areas.


The registration along the edge of the green is very good, a clear flowing line where it meets the beige. Having shown us that he can achieve clear registration, he allows the far side of the beige to bleed into the white. This creates contrast and brings attention to the absorbency of the paper, a quality he is able to exploit or control as he wishes.


Is it any good? I like it. I like that it is in a medium that encourages close looking and intimacy but executed on a grand scale.

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