Delacroix wanted in his work to “prolong the sensation” –  “The arts are not algebra, where abbreviation of the figures contributes to the success of the problem. To be successful in the arts is not a matter of summarizing but of amplifying where it is possible, and of prolonging the sensation by every means”. [Journal, October 20, 1853]  But what sensation are you prolonging, you might well ask?  What sight is is not obvious. It consists of many more perceptual aspects than we typically acknowledge. 

In fact, I believe we tend to understand vision more in terms of concepts than by sensation.  The average man sees the thing.  That’s what he’s aware of – not the appearance of the thing.  Artists are more attuned to the appearance, but artists too understand vision categorically.  Technique breaks perception down into different sorts of concepts – line, tone, color, form, texture, size, scale, proportion….  And the sensation is something else altogether. 

“…le succès dans les arts n’est point d’abréger, mais d’amplifier, s’il se peut, de prolonger la sensation, et par tous les moyens.”

7 thoughts on “You see the dog that is running, not the perception

  1. yes. i agree. the sensation is something else entirely (from the other two – thing and appearance). so… yes. …and… where does this go now?? is what Delacroix said. was after. is that important? to prolong the moment of sensation? hmmmm… i like where you have taken me to think in this. are we to “mark” the moments of sensation?? in order to prolong it?

  2. p.s. i see the dog leaping. that is what is prolonged for me in the image. that leap. …which usually would be brief – a leap is brief (in most cases). he chose a moment that is brief and prolonged it by fixing it in that never ending leap. cool. thanks for this insight and understanding. aloha.

  3. Thank you Rick and Gabe.

    I need to write about the Delacroix quote sometime at greater length — in terms of what I think he’s saying (others no doubt have their interpretations of his enigmatic comments too).

    The sensation that he means is — I think — the painting — its surface, all the physical incident of line, color, tone, paint texture, whatnot that makes up the physical surface that we read also as an image — and the incident there too — the depicted incident (whatever it is).

    I used my dog drawing just because of its having something stopped in time, “prolonged” — but the prolonged sensation Delacroix wants is the visual splendor that in a great picture keeps one looking and looking. When you get lost in a work of art …

  4. ah-ha. i see what you’re saying. okay. cool. and yeah, cool on your dog drawing too (i see i said he when i should have said “your”).

    so. would you say it is something like this: it’s not so much the image moment that is the desired moment to prolong but the work itself. if the work captivates the viewer so that the viewer remains involved and looking, exploring across the surface – that is the desired quality to go after as a painter.

  5. Rick, I think it’s both, the image and the way the image is created. It’s the warp and weft of the picture. But, yes, ultimately the picture has to be made in a way that makes people want to look at it and keep looking at it. He was speaking in an aspirational way, of great art.

  6. thanks Aletha – i’m slow but i keep trying. yes, of course – yeah, the sum of all parts. and hopefully a synergistic effect as well – image, way of working and all that goes with it. presentation i suspect has something to do with it too. which in some ways seems like an outside condition – yet, it contributes. interesting. interesting stuff to think on Aletha – way cool thank you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s