What and where is the right stuff? What matters in art? What matters in life? If our work can achieve real interest we have accomplished much, but a special few of us are at times able to achieve works that seem to approach the sublime…and perhaps even catch a glimpse of greatness. A century ago P.D. Ouspensky wrote about “ In Search of the Miraculous” and his experiences with the Sphinx, the Buddha with Sapphire Eyes, Notre Dame, whirling dervishes…phenomena that transcended excellence and communicated a sense of something more.
The pursuit of this ethereal quality may be setting the bar awfully high, but is, I think, an amazing and worthwhile endeavor. Although I am thinking art and architecture it’s just as real in marriage, politics, sports, and science. It’s finding oneself in the zone where every decision is seemingly the right one. It’s the Goldilocks zone. It’s the start of the chain reaction in chemistry and the spark of attraction in physics. Almost always it is the most skilled and gifted among us that are able to find the zone and elevate the composition, point of view, or circumstance to arrive at the doorstep of the sublime.
Anders Zorn’s portraits and H.H. Richardson’s Glessner House are extremely well done, Sargent’s portraits and the Greene Brothers’ Gamble House achieve a level of accomplishment that few can equal, and da Vinci’s best portraits and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water push against the ceiling of the extraordinary – sublime for sure, miraculous perhaps.
In my work I crave for that exceptional quality that resides between man’s rationality and nature’s randomness. Here the struggle between order and chaos and between known and unknown lies a reality found only in the most distinguished works. Many of us work long and hard in pursuit of creativity, but only a precious few are ever able to transcend competent workmanship and discover that magical “right stuff.”