Nov 19, 2010
Is it just me, or is Robert Moskowitz's "Hard Ball III" especially weird and oddly effective? It seems simple, but I don't think it is.
I'm a baseball fan--lukewarm, but a fan. Also, I can fake enough understanding of art to mention Moskowitz's play with depth perception, the smudged background strokes, the hyper drama of this perspective (might it be considered a cheap shot or gimmick?), and I notice that the pitcher might not be in a baseball uniform, which is strange. I can allude dumbly to the impact of red on my cones and rods, or the sentimental and sensory associations of a baseball and childhood--the hundreds of idle tossings of a ball into an oiled leather mitt, never mind the actual playing with buddies or tossing with The Dad or The Son and Daughter and students.
But none of that is adequate to explain why no other work at the D.I.A. (or any museum?), not even the nekkid women, makes my head whirl on its axis the way this one has.
Am I trying to duck from the pitch? If so, how did Moskowitz achieve that much realism in a painting that's so hyper-realistic it transcends realism?
I just learned that Moskowitz, now 75, is a respected though under-recognized hybrid between minimalism and abstract expressionism, and "Hard Ball III" makes sense in that context as well.
Yes, that's all fine and good, but none of it explains the impact this picture has for me. Can anybody help? Some regulars here know their art. Is this picture any good? Is it unusually inventive? Is it outside the box, the way its ball almost is? Does it illustrate the mind and talent of a quasi-obscure genius? Is it a psychological, neurological sneak-attack?
Or does it all amount to just a quirky connection between my brain and those shapes? If so, is that what all artists, poets, musicians, and clog-dancers are after, just some quirky connection, which just might bowl over or decapitate some innocent stroller?
I suppose I shouldn't have to ask. Emily Dickinson said, famously, "If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. . . . Is there any other way?"