Monday, September 14, 2009


In 2007, the Portland Art Museum exhibited Camouflage, an exhibition of eight paintings that explored artists’ use of pattern. The exhibit included a large camouflage pattern painting from a series that Andy Warhol did around 1986.

In his 1940 essay, A Mathematician's Apology, G. H. Hardy (full text here) discusses, among other things, pure versus applied mathematics with one difference being the application of mathematics to war. He stated that "a mathematician was a maker of patterns of ideas, and that beauty and seriousness were the criteria by which his patterns should be judged".

In Arthur Danto's The Transfiguration of the Commonplace: A Philosophy of Art, and 25 years later in his 2008 reply to his critics in CA online, Danto uses Warhol's Brillo box to discuss what makes an object an art work. (See Ontology, Criticism, and the Riddle of Art Versus Non-Art in The Transfiguration of the Commonplace. Contemporary Aesthetics, Volume 6, 2008.)

The Warhol camouflage series is interesting in that it turns a pattern designed for war back into art. Hardy said "A painting may embody [an] 'idea', but the idea is usually commonplace and unimportant." I wonder what he would have thought about the Warhol painting's ability to wrap all these concepts — beauty, seriousness, the ontology of art — in one art work.

Here's an unrelated, gratuitous Bezier curve image from a series:

No comments: