It is also difficult to compare the emotional response inspired by a weeping woman compared to the outre subject matter preferred by Spare. Thats why I see him as more than an Illustrator (a term I do not find to be pejorative) This isnt a Frazetta masterpiece of barbarians in snow or an expertly executed Rockwell scene from middle America. Spare is dealing with a difficult subject matter.
This is going over old ground for me, and I thought I had made this clear. Ok, I will recap; if we look at the Picasso picture, it's very clear that the woman is weeping. The visual devices that Picasso has used, communicate that experience well. Now Picasso, could have drawn - very accurately and academically - a nice delicate pencil sketch that shows a woman weeping. But, he chose not to; because that would have communicated a lot of other things; and what Picasso was really interested in, was communicating the fact that the woman is weeping - what it looks like and what it feels like. Anyone who has done any drawing or painting, would know that the more laboured or rigid a drawing or painting becomes - i.e. the more photographic - the more that almost all other qualities tend to disappear.
Getting back to Spare. Now, a lot of people talk about Spare being sublime, and ecstatic vision etc etc, but that is simply not what I see in his work - that is missing and, generally, no attempt is made to even communicate anything about it - just nice draftsmanship. Don't you find this a little odd?
I think it's because he isn't particularly critical of the materials he uses and generally fails to get the most out of them; you could say he is lazy and expects the subject to do all of the work for him.
A lot of surrealism lacks the expressionist elements you get in Cubism. Expressionism plays on the emotions by design and Picasso was known for mixing the schools.
A lot of surrealism is very, very expressive - look at Chagall - very surreal and very expressive. Look at Gorky, Matta there are quite a number of artists who used elements of surrealism as a vehicle for their expression.
I feel that expecting a Spare to inspire the same kind of emotions as a Picasso is difficult because they are different "veins" with different concerns and different intentions.
They aren't different veins at all. They are both artists who choose to communicate visually. I am looking critically at their work and looking at (1) what they are trying to communicate and (2) how they are communicating it and (3) judging them on that basis.
Would you fault a Futurist painting for not inspiring the same emotions as a Caspar David Friedrich? The former inspires passion while the latter inspires the horror of the sublime.
I am most certainly not advocating one type of emotion or sensation over another, I am just saying that Spare is more-or-less completely empty. A great Futurist painting may seek to give the user the experience of mechanical dynamism, a Caspar David Friedrich may offer the viewer the experience of the majesty of the landscape, or the vunerability of humanity within the landscape. They are deemed good or bad on the basis of the quaility of the experience.
I don't think that depicting mythological characters qualifies for the sublime.
An image can be sublime regardless of what is depicted. If you have ever been to any national collection in the UK, US, Paris or Italy you will know what I mean; unless of course, you are just talking about reproductions in books.....because they probably aren't.
The sense of the sublime, in my opinion, comes from trying to deal with vast spiritual concepts and render them in aesthetic language. How does one communicate the experience of passing between worlds? I would think this qualifies as sublime.
I think you have a very narrow definition of the sublime; it can be found all around us - one most certainly does not have to go to the trouble of ''passing between worlds'' to experience it. It could be witnessing an absolutely fantastic sunset - which may have a quality of passing between worlds.
Now if you feel he fails at that depiction (which I think you do) thats fair enough. Personally I feel he is successful here and I feel like he communicates something unique in a compelling way.
He fails because the visual experience he offers is very poor. He is lazy in that he is depending on the imagery to do all the work for him. He fails and the work fails; if you have ever seen the original work, that is.
But my point is just that Cubism is part of the modern project's drive to be reductionist. The intention of rendering painting to its most basic tenants and stripping away anything else.
The question of reduction in modern art is more a question of art criticism rather than an issue for the artists.