How Art Constantly Moves from Objectivity to Subjectivity and Better Depictions of Personal Sensations: A History Ongoing

From film to the emergence of impressionism and modern art painting. With science, artists know that a photograph is not the way we see the world, the way we focus is always interlaced with remembering of the past and predictabilities of the future. Artists are interested in depicting sensations. The sooner we understand that art lies in subjectivity, we become the better appreciators and creators of Art to soothe the alienating pains of life.

“Today the hope is for makeup generally to pass unnoticed and quietly accentuate expressive qualities of the actor’s face. Because the camera may record cruel details that we wouldn’t notice in ordinary life, unsuitable blemishes, wrinkles, and sagging skin will have to be hidden.” — Film Art, Bordwel, 2012

The camera records cruel details that we wouldn’t notice in ordinary life, much like the argument for modern art, trying to depict sensations and subjectivity rather than boring illustrations of life that actually is not how we see life. The technology does not define what we see (or hear, or feel, depending on the artform). What we see is always distorted, mixed up with memories, predictions of the future, with focus: Not the camera focus we know, but how the eye and our brain focus, it is different: We focus on a face differently, we often mirror: feel a smile, smile back. Each person has it differently as well: I often, especially when I didn’t have enough sleep, or didn’t have a strong protein-based breakfast, my social anxiety increases: When I see a face, I feel anxious, I panic, I get scared. How would that translate into an art piece of a face?

There’s an impressionist painting by a female painter, Berthe Morisot, called: Jour d’Ete, from 1879. Impressionism had its own style, just like a lot of modern art, they didn’t focus on just realistic and ideal depictions, but rather sensations, visible brushstrokes, etc. In this painting, her brushstrokes are squiggly lines, which contrast with other impressionist paintings whose brush strokes are small bubbles. The result? A feeling of vibrations, hallucination, and flow looking at her painting. We are interested in stepping beyond the frame, connecting to the infinite of human sensation, because we do not see the world like we think we see the world: There are many unconscious things to depict still.

Berthe Morisot, Jour d’́e’te’, 1879, via

“ [Like]`poetry’, an ‘invention. Poetry is not nature, but the feeling that nature inspires in the artist . It is nature reflected in the human mind […] one might say that the artist paints a `self on the pretext of painting `nature’.” — Defining Impressionism and The Impression, Richard Siff, 1978

In an essay talking about the emergence of the grid in neo-impressionist paintings and modern art: the abstract paintings of squares in different color values. The author says it started with paintings of a window, and it connects us to something infinite:

“In the increasingly de-sacralized space of the nineteenth century, art had become the refuge for religious emotion; it became, as it has remained, a secular form of belief.” — Rosalind Krauss, Grids, Summer, 1979.

Our goal as modern artists is to create sensations because we cannot rely on our current knowledge of how we experience the world to make art: A camera does not see how we see. The rules of light and shadow in painting take away the emotions in our seeing, and the visibility of colors that flat art wants to get back. It is our job to connect art to our subjectivity and decrease alienation for others.

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