When you view a painting or sketch you are looking at the world through the artists’ eyes. The same applies to poets. The joy is in the sharing of expression, a rendering of perception and conception, presented as a gift for all interested. You may scoff at such generalizations, but simple words and colors can form works of splendid complexity. My introduction to Fairfield Porter was in the late 1990s. I spent an entire afternoon at the Parrish Art Museum in South Hampton doing research for a paper I was writing. You might say I stepped into a world of local art I had no idea even existed.
Porter was a Realist painter in a time of Abstract Expressionism. 1) Look at the glass vase. It is real in its dimension, opaqueness and near transparency. The flowers and leaves are real in the sense that are recognizable for what they are but not perfectly real. Flora does not manifest itself in nature with Van Gough style brush strokes. “He (Porter) was a Realist painter, working from observation, painting scenes of domesticity.”1) The way he painted these common scenes showed us a unique interpretation of the world as he viewed it, “making him a paradoxically subversive artist.”1) “A realist in a time of time of abstraction,” so well put.1) All art forms are related. Words, brush strokes, sounds and pictures have one common purpose. They show us a creative rendering of what it is in the mind's eye. It could your mind, mine, just about anyone's’ whose intent is sharing their interpretation of something real or abstract. Poetry is the shortest of short stories. It exchanges pictures with words in a compact package.
Fairfield Porter-the Poet
A pen and paper, a word processing computer, or an old typewriter all can be palets filled with strokes and colors. Fairfield Porter painted with words. Read about a summer evening on Long Island. It looks and sounds familiar to me.
Realism, abstraction, or a combination of the two? A well-dressed pyromaniac at odds with the ocean, two opposite forces struggling for dominance, what do you think? Comments, ideas, or interpretations are welcome. I could use help with The Pyromaniac.
There will be more to come on Fairfield Porter and other Poets featured in the 1986 anthology, Long Island Poets.
1) Fairfield Porter: A Realist in the Age of Abstraction