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by Ford Weisberg
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The Nature of the World vs. the World of Nature

We encounter Nature before we understand 'the nature of the world.' We seek 'the nature of the world' through art. Paradox: seeking 'the nature of the world' by regarding an abstraction of nature itself. An artists subject ceases to belong to nature. Art is an attempt to reveal the secrets of our world. 'Art is ...the communication of what is secret by what is secret'.---Kandinsky.

The Nature of the World Versus the World of Nature

Most of us encounter Nature before we understand the nature of the world. As infants and very young children, we seek to learn the nature of the world through the exploration of our immediate surroundings, the people in it, and the objects that occupy its space. Whether man-made or natural, we learn the properties of objects and how they play their part in relation to heat, gravity, acceleration and other physical laws.

Often, we seek an understanding of the nature of the world through art, which is able to suggest those truths without having to imitate nature precisely. Art can also engender a mental state wherein a sort of spiritual musing may take place. The somewhat paradoxical result is man seeking the nature of the world by regarding an abstraction of the very content he seeks to understand.

Sometimes a photographer sets forth in search of Nature and returns with an abstraction. Sometimes, a painter begins an abstract composition only to find himself startled by the obvious natural metaphor. Similarly, Goethe wrote an artist has only to choose a subject for it to cease to belong to nature.

Art is often an attempt to reveal the secrets of our world. However, in art...there remains a final secret where the light of reason wanes miserably as Paul Klee memorably has written. Leonhard Emmerling wrote of Wassily Kandinsky and Jackson Pollock's "evocation of a non-empirical spiritual reality". Perhaps one of the most telling quotations from a great artist is Kandinsky's: art is...the communication of what is secret by what is secret.

Some things we may never know.


Ford Weisberg



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