Anthony Miler, A Fluent Master of Angst

THE DAILY PIC: Anthony Miler's expressionist canvases at Thierry Goldberg – a soulful outpouring that's like a pianist's scales.

THE DAILY PIC (#1638): This is one of the amazingly fluent, wonderfully adept expressionist canvases of Anthony Miler, whose solo show is now at Thierry Goldberg Gallery in New York. Miler’s paintings simply work as coherent images and surfaces.

Which I find kind of astounding: How is it possible for soulful outpourings to also be fluent and adept?

Back in 1961, Ernst Gombrich argued that success in making realistic pictures doesn’t depend on simply observing the world, so much as on coming up with a series of devices and techniques (“schemata,” he called them) that let you achieve fluency in depicting it. You don’t learn to look more closely at a horse; you learn that to draw a horse you need a certain series of marks and shapes on the paper, which you keep correcting until they work to conjure a horse.

I think that Gombrich was right for all art, realistic or not. You don’t learn to pour out your soul; you learn what it takes to make soul-pouring pictures that work.

Nothing wrong with that. But it does signal that you’ve arrived late to the game. The great moments come when the schemata are still being worked out.

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