when a piece of victorian scrap suddenly feels connected...
recently picked up this small victorian trade card for the mason and hamlin organ company. and while it did catch my eye in regards to its relation to my collection of early music related photographs, i suddenly found myself realizing that much of the design seems totally compatible with my own aesthetic sense.
for over 20 years i have found inspiration in modernist graphic design/architecture and abstract painting, but slowly i have been discovering that my own aesthetic is messier, more awkward, and less inclined towards empty space (i.e. i love the "clean" stuff, but it just doesn't seem to want to come out of me as a maker). what struck me about this image is how the hanging banner on the left totally disrupts the symmetry. the amount of ornament, repetition, and general visual noise also seems consistent with my own work, as well as with the repetitions of tramp art and so-called outsider art. on many levels, i can look at the way this image was constructed and can see certain visual decisions that feel familiar.
this painting from 2008 "the same sun spinning and fading..." certainly seems aesthetically compatible with the old paper object i found a few weeks ago:
what is interesting to me is that this relationship suggests an evolving aesthetic rather than a dedicated card carrying member of single aesthetic or historical club. as much as i still gush over the norton simon's maholy-nagy painting every time i see it, i have also begun to feel a strong connection to some of the victorian era's awkward and complex way of visual composition (and how much of its awkwardness is an artifact of an analog and/or mechanical process - rather than a digital/virtual one).
it isn't so much that i am looking for inspiration in such things, as much as discovering that i feel some sort of sympathetic relationship to certain objects and eras that never seemed to be an influence or interest.
rather than working from the printed object above, i'm more interested in the potential of having deeper conversations with things that are able to unexpectedly reveal things to me about my work that has previously been unnoticed or unacknowledged... once again proving that these old things can not only inspire work, at times, but can also expand the conversation.