the role of magic in the creative process

El Anatsui/Metropolitan Museum of Art

El Anatsui/Metropolitan Museum of Art

We are smitten with this short, illuminating online slideshow in which Marco Leona, chief scientist at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, talks about the role of magic in the creation of art. It is so delightful and illuminating, we’ve watched it several times: a rich 4 minutes.

“Magic traditionally was about transformation: taking something baser, less refined, less valuable and making it something resplendent.”

He shows a wide array of artworks to illustrate this transformation, ranging from Ghanaian El Anatsui’s stunning tapestries made of twist-off bottle caps, to Hokusai’s famous blue wave to Anish Kapoor’s high-tech wonder. We particularly love slides 14 through 17 where Leona speaks about the process an anonymous 12th century Persian artist went through to make a gorgeous frieze tile:

12C persian tile

Metropolitan Museum of Art

“…through a process of trial-and error and logical deduction…he created a technique to disperse gold, silver and copper nanoparticles throughout a glass layer.”

Best line (and lesson):  “Magic is still possible.”

The Alchemist by Peter Bruegel the Elder

the alchemist: pieter bruegel the elder

via Cara de Silva

Related posts: what bottle caps can be: el anatsui’s liquid mosaics
intention + chance, in color: holton rower’s pour paintings
everyday brancusi: mailbox, lamps, platters…
rules for living: just one from pablo picasso

One Response to the role of magic in the creative process

  1. carol 09.29.2011 at 10:26am #

    We saw an exhibit of El Anatsui’s work at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto last winter. It was magical how he transformed such simple objects that most of of us discard into such beautiful tapestries.

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