“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see,” French artist Edgar Degas said. If this were the case, then 27-year-old artist, Lana Newstrom, who recently created quite a stir because of her “invisible art,” would be one of the greatest artists of all time.
Her exhibit at the Schulberg Gallery in New York some couple of weeks back which featured invisible paintings and sculptures was attended by art enthusiasts and by people who were simply intrigued by this whole event. Some didn’t appreciate Newstrom’s art works, but others – especially those who have pockets to burn – happily bought some of the pieces that even commanded millions of dollars.
Does this sound insane? Well, it is. And satirical, too. Apparently, this news was merely a fabrication of CBC Radio’s Pat Kelly and Peter Oldring for their show, This is That. Many fell for it, though, and as much as I would hate to admit it, including me.
“Is this really the future of art? Nothingness?” I asked myself after reading the article. Although I love going to museums, the art world is still distant to me – its history and evolution, the different movements, the styles, the criticisms, the who’s who, etc. My knowledge and experience of it is scanty, so certain concept art or any avant-garde style can sometimes make me scratch my head in confusion. That is why I thought it was real – not the art works themselves, but the idea that some people would actually “create” something that is unseen and have the public agree with them. Art can be weird at times, and the same can be said for those who worship it, purchase it, or pretend to appreciate it.
Reading about Newstrom’s invisible art news reminded me of another (almost) “invisible art” straightaway. It was a poem that was included in my Philippine Literature class back in college – The Emperor’s New Sonnet . It was created by poet, writer, literary critic, and painter Jose Villa Garcia (1908 – 1997).
Compared to Newstrom’s invisible art, Garcia’s work is more understandable because the title is a dead giveaway. It is a clever poem, not in the way the words had been used – because obviously there isn’t one – but on the manner that his message and his art are conveyed through a blank sheet of paper.
Maybe you’d think that I am “hopelessly stupid” for thinking that it actually conveys a message. But whether you think of this as art or simple nonsense, there is no way denying that once you look at it, you get it, despite of the fact that nothing is written there.
Or is there?
“Everything you can imagine is real.”
― Pablo Picasso