Stage 5: Re-Creative
Re-Creative viewers, having a long history of viewing and reflecting about works of art, now willingly suspend disbelief. A familiar painting is like an old friend who is known intimately, yet full of surprise, deserving attention on a daily level but also existing on an elevated plane. As in all important friendships, time is a key ingredient, allowing Stage 5 viewers to know the ecology of a work — its time, its history, its questions, its travels, its intricacies. Drawing on their own history with one work in particular, and with viewing in general, these viewers combine personal contemplation with views that broadly encompass universal concerns. Here, memory infuses the landscape of the painting, intricately combining the personal and the universal.
At Stage V, Re-Creative viewers, having established a long history of viewing and reflecting about art, now willingly suspend belief, as described by Coleridge (1983). The work of art is not just paper and paint. The viewer sees the object as semblant, real, and animated with a life of its own..
- The more I look at the painting, the more I have this sense of the sexuality as being a kind of pressure that pushes away from the canvas but in some ways is tightly held by the canvas itself. (Picasso, Les Demoiselles d'Avignon)
The viewer begins an imaginative contemplation of the work (Baldwin, 1975). Transcending prior knowledge and experience, the viewer gives himself permission to encounter the artwork with a childlike openness. A trained eye, critical stance, and responsive attitude are his lenses as the multifaceted experience of the artwork guides his viewing. A familiar painting is like an old friend, known intimately yet full of surprise, deserving attention on a daily level, but also existing on a more elevated plane.
- "I think just the freshness of it just keeps coming through continuously even though it's quite an old painting at this point it still seems very new to me." (Picasso, Les Demoiselles d'Avignon)
Drawing on their own history with the work in particular, and with viewing in general, these viewers combine a more personal, playful contemplation with one more broadly encompassing and reflecting universal concerns. As with important friendships, time is a key ingredient, allowing the Stage V viewer to closely know the biography of the work: its history, its questions, its intricacies, and its ecology. Here, memory infuses the landscape of the painting, intricately combining the personal and the universal.
- "There are preliminary drawings for this painting which incorporated a sailor and a doctor, I believe, standing to the side and pulling back a curtain and seeing the interior of a whorehouse, and the idea that Picasso eliminated those male figures and just presented the painting directly to the viewer, almost asking the viewer to be in that position seemed to be a very interesting change in the thinking about art." (Picasso, Les Demoiselles d'Avignon)