“Painterliness” generally refers to works with visible brushstrokes, “the result of applying paint in a less than completely controlled manner, generally without closely following carefully drawn lines,” in the apt words of Wikipedia.
I’d like to offer a possibly clunkier, but arguably more useful working definition. Painterly paintings openly express, rather than absorb or synthesize, the aesthetic choices made at each stage of the creative process.
|Henri Matisse, Fruit and Coffeepot, c. 1898|
In painterly painting, the painter’s presence is palpable in various aspects of the work (especially brushwork, but also composition, coloring and object relations, and tonality). The artist gives us the object depicted dynamically, the depiction visibly fused with the thought process behind depicting it.
Such painting is often said to be primarily “about” painting or “about” seeing rather than primarily (or just) about the subject chosen. It invokes and includes the process of painting (as well as the more or less conscious act of "seeing") in the service, simultaneously, of realism, subjective expression, and an exploration of the processes at the heart of art and perception.
|Stuart Shils, Big Sky, Sun Breaking Through Lackan Haze, 2003.|
What's your take, and could you suggest any favorite "painterly" painters or paintings we should know about?