Art to a nature scientist

I. Gray weather

The Met, room 823.

He thought little points and blobs of paint on a canvas was a good proxy to “transcribe most exactly the vivid outdoor clarity in all its nuances,” they call it divisionism and we do it in science all the time, and from afar he does convey that nature was made of parts.  But Seurat could never have known, let alone have captured, xylem and phloem cells embedded in mesophyll, or molecules of hydrogen and oxygen bound as liquid, because at some point the concreteness of nature becomes an abstraction of scale that is impossible to render in paint.  ‘Gray weather, grande jatte‘ 1886-1888.

 

II. Cypresses

Van Gough piled up paint in late 19th century 3D-fashion.  Summer painted from an asylum, so many of them went mad painting…  Nature appeared like a whole to him, not dissected by a biologists’ myopic eye.  Me, I see stems of monocots in a mid-, possibly upper-, latitude environment, where it is periodically hot and dry, because the cypresses attest to that, and I think it best Vincent never attempted to capture a hyphal view of the world.  It would have been boringly brown canvas, blurring out everything of interest. ‘Wheat field with cypresses‘, 1889.

29 juli 2015