Friday, November 27, 2009

Beauty, Order, Pattern

Nature is always one step ahead of art; the wise artist pays close attention. Patterns I've noticed recently in nature have led to thoughts about pattern in art. In Islamic culture pattern is both beauty and prayer - the two are inseparable. In the ordered, mathematical designs of rugs, tiles, and other characteristic forms is endless meditation on the infinite space of God. Celtic patterns are among the most familiar in this category, with or without the weaving in of Christian motifs after the conversion era. Pattern based on nature are the lifeblood of 19th century Arts & Crafts movment, especially in wallpaper and fabric designs of William Morris. Some beautiful patterns can be found in patchwork quilts, with names and motifs that clearly reference nature as a design source. An art movement in the 60's and 70's known as Pattern and Decoration reacted against the dry aesthetics of Minimalism with explosive color and design, often making intentional use of traditional materials and processes as a feminist statement about the association of decorative arts with functional "women's work." The example here is a mosaic by Robert Kusher, installed in the 77th Street stop in the NYC subway. It's a beautiful world, outside and in.

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