Monday, April 07, 2008

art loves music

He has Van Gogh's ear for music.

Yesterday I stumbled upon the above quote by Billy Wilder. I laughed, of course, but I was also aware of the coincidence of finding this at a time when my visual art explorations are all about music, probably ignited by my need to draw Stephen Fearing's guitar. Right now I have three abandoned paintings lying around my studio, all works that must be finished within an actual timeline, while I continue to noodle away with guitars as subject matter (while listening to Stephen's music) ~ and have the experimental panels to prove it. Or, as Joe Jackson (a musician of course -- it's all about synchronicity) would say, "the half-finished drivel I'd worked on for days." Gotta follow where the muse leads no matter where he wanders I guess. Turn left before the outhouse please.

Anyway, so I wasn't surprised when Rudy (who does more for this blog than I do these days) forwarded me this amazing article. It's all about the link between a neurodegenerative condition called primary progressive aphasia and creativity, but I also couldn't help noticing yet another link between art and music. The artist who painted the above painting suffered from this condition while working on it:

It is called Unravelling Boléro, by Canadian artist Anne Adams, and is a bar-by-bar representation of the popular classical piece Boléro by Maurice Ravel ... And here's the jaw-dropper: Ravel is thought to have suffered from the same condition, which may have drawn him towards repetitive patterns such as the themes that cycle through Boléro. Adams was unaware of this, and of her own condition, while working on her painting.

Who knew there could be benefits to brain tumours? Seriously, though, I'm fascinated when scientists uncover links between neurology and creativity. I also wonder if my own use of pattern, movement and composition links to my passion for music (and not to a neurological disease...).

20 Comments:

Blogger chocolate covered musings said...

wow, that is really really amazing!

7/4/08 1:01 PM  
Blogger grammacello said...

HUH - and synchronistically as well, there was a program on TV last night (that I just happened on as I was about to turn it off) about this very thing-I don't even know what it was called- it was fascinating-a guy had a stroke that damaged the "creativity inhibiting" as it were- parts of the brain and he now paints, fabulous stuff-without ceasing. Other cases as well- I will try to figure out what it was from the TV guide-it was about savants from a largely neurological point of view..
I am e-mailing, too about house paintings, finally
Grammacello

7/4/08 1:21 PM  
Blogger Alda said...

Crikey! I hope it's not a requirement for creativity.

7/4/08 3:57 PM  
Blogger Alda said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/4/08 3:57 PM  
Blogger Alda said...

(My comment came twice, so I deleted one. Don't want overkill.)

7/4/08 3:58 PM  
Blogger citizen of the world said...

There's an interesting book by Oliver Sacks called "Musicology" about musical alent and cognitive damage. Facinating stuff.

7/4/08 6:17 PM  
Blogger Caroline said...

Lets hope conditions like that aren't catchable by listening to the music!

Hope your guitars are thriving.

8/4/08 3:51 AM  
Blogger carla said...

Wow! I read that article today and was going to send it to you! Did you happen to check out her art? She had some house paintings that made me think of you:> I hope your muse is keeping you happy while she keeps you hopping!

8/4/08 5:00 PM  
Blogger dinahmow said...

Yes, lots of connections when we look around.Some mothers of children with conditions like autism, brain damage, et cetera often say they notice new or enhanced awareness of sounds.Betty Edwards, in "Drawing on the right side of the Brain" cites stroke patients drawing and painting with a skill formerly not noticed.
As for the picture above WOW! I love that!

8/4/08 11:34 PM  
Blogger JafaBrit's Art said...

That is really interesting. oh that muse, gets you into all sorts of wonderful pickles eh!

9/4/08 8:53 AM  
Blogger Kim said...

It is an amazing combination, to be sure. I think many artist are drawn to working to music and find a great need to create a visual to go along with auditory.

While I do not seem to have this illness, I am working on a Music Series, right now!

Thanks so much for sharing this here.

Wonderful blog.

9/4/08 10:20 AM  
Blogger Hayden said...

I saw the article and was amazed. The plasticity of the brain awes me. Damage one center, and another blooms. A tiny evolutionary turn and "normal" would be so much different. Nothing is inevitable, only chance.

It must have been unspeakably frustrating to watch her own *natural* abilities fade - math, language - but to be given the gift of creativity and beauty, even if only for a time, was a wonderful thing.

But such pathos in the double loss: language, and then being no longer able to hold the brushes...

and still we don't know what her mind did then.

9/4/08 9:17 PM  
Blogger Hayden said...

did you see the Ted talks vid - Jill Bolte Taylor? http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/229

so amazing.

9/4/08 9:23 PM  
Blogger HMBT said...

It's not a tumor. *she said in her best imitation of the Terminator*
Great post, once again...love the way you help us all to see the strings that connect and bind us to the world we live in and above.

10/4/08 3:16 AM  
Blogger Toni said...

What an interesting article about her. My son (the music teacher) and I have had many conversations about art and music and their correlation. Especially about layering.

10/4/08 4:44 AM  
Blogger Merisi said...

I read about this artist and her brain condition this morning in the New York Times, both fascinating and sad.

10/4/08 5:30 AM  
Blogger Donn said...

What an awesome story.

We 'ARE' whatever our brain decides to do. Nothing in all of Creation compares to the Human Brain.

We should be dedicating every cent that is wasted on Military endeavours towards investigating the mind...the secrets of the universe are hidden in that 3 pound gelatin blob holding our ears apart.

10/4/08 6:36 AM  
Blogger Janvangogh said...

That would be really cool to see colors when you hear music.

10/4/08 6:57 AM  
Blogger kj said...

i'm struck by the fact that i just cancelled the new york times so i never saw this article. however, i used to see colors when i heard music, but now being a bona fide adult, i won't get into that.

:)

10/4/08 10:06 PM  
Blogger Molly said...

Isn't the mind complex? I've got stuff going on in there I can't even tell anyone about! If I could only get all the stuff out that I want to.
While not the same as above, two books come to mind that I have read with similar themes:
Thomas West's In the Mind's Eye: Visual Thinkers, Gifted Thinkers with Learning Difficulties, Computer Images, and the Ironies of Creativity.
And, Touched with Fire, by Kay Redfield Jamison, "plainly among the few who have a profound understanding of the relationship that exists between art and madness."

12/4/08 7:28 PM  

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