Rob Adams a Painter's Blog painter's progress

December 31, 2017

The Physics of Art

Filed under: Art History,Philosophy,Satire,Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Rob Adams @ 5:29 pm

Do you have art on your walls? How long has it been there? When did you last actually notice some of it? If the answer to the first is, yes, the second, ages and the third years then maybe the art is worn out and has become uncontemporary. You may well need to replace it entirely with fresh stuff. Completely worn out art of historical significance gets retired into national institutions so that no one except the staff have to look at it every day. Any art over time becomes worn and faded and the “art” potency becomes discharged. Much like biscuits art has a best before date.

Art is you see not like a bit of practical furniture that gains longevity and aesthetic patina through usage over time. It is an object charged with art power that has half life much in the way that radioactive elements do. A new bit of art, if it is potent, fires out aesthetic particles at a certain rate. Leave it on the wall for 10 years though and that rate will have decreased by at least 50%. Leave it there for a 20 years and it will barely register as art and become just decor. There is no way at present to recharge a discharged art object, though work is being carried out at the Cern laboratories to measure the exact weight and properties of the Icon particle, as they have named it.

For this reason it is important to renew the art on your walls a regular intervals. Iconic radiation has been shown in several influential studies to fight depression and SAD, so keeping  a fresh display of recently created art on your walls can extend active life and keep cognitive faculties in tip top condition. I need hardly point out that art comes in different qualities with some artists imbuing their work with a more potently charged Iconic particle than others. However potent the original aesthetic charge of a work is the passing of 50 years will see it sadly diminished and in need of replacement.

Different people are receptive to various wavelengths from the Conceptual at 20,000 Hz through to Kitsch at about 89 Hz, some poor souls are unable to detect the radiation at all and others such as critics are over sensitive to the higher frequencies. Great art emits on a wider band of frequencies so there are many things to consider when buying new, or replacing discharged art objects. Art objects have distinctly variable half life, Iconic and Sublimic radiation has a half life measured in years but Ironic radiation wears thin very quickly, this is known as the Dada effect.

The aesthetic field and the Iconic particle are of course liable to the same weird and unintuitive properties as other sub atomic particles. For example you can measure value by auctioning the work but not aesthetic quality. If you measure the aesthetic strength then value becomes uncertain. This is known as the Rauschenberg Uncertainty principle. This in turn means that an artwork can be in a state of worthlessness and high value at the same moment until a sale makes the probabilities to collapse one way or another. Paintings or sculptures of cats are particularly prone to this effect.

This is not really an article for painters or other practitioners of art, but for buyers and collectors. Buying art is not something you do once and you can then forget about. If any work of art in your art in your house becomes overly familiar and does not draw your attention as it used to then it needs to be replaced with a fresh work from an artist or a gallery. Collectors don’t seem to realise that when buying paintings by an artist a 100 years ago they are not buying an object of high aesthetic charge, but one only with  historical and rarity value. For these objects of much reduced potency storage in a vault is more appropriate that actually hanging them on a wall.


  1. Where did this one come from!? I have followed your blog for some time; inter alia it has kept me sane but now 2018 will be uncertain…will it be Rauschenburg or Heisenburg?

    Comment by Philip Montgomery — January 1, 2018 @ 12:01 pm

  2. This is a wonderful post. I love the analogy to the physics of subatomic particles!

    Comment by Michael Chesley Johnson — January 1, 2018 @ 12:57 pm

  3. Well I learn something new every day!

    Comment by Robbie Murdoch — January 1, 2018 @ 5:11 pm

  4. Wow… i simply do not agree… there are some paintings (the paint may be 100 yrs, or 50) that stir my soul every time i observe them…no… this simply is not true of all art hanging on our walls..

    Comment by vanaly palmer — January 2, 2018 @ 12:55 am

  5. Ho! Ho!,Ho!

    That was really funny! I admit you got me until the second paragraph! Then I got my tongue in cheek detector cranked up. I specially like the DAda , I’ve sometimes thought that ‘ irony’ is the last resort of those who don’t really have anything original,to say.

    On a slightly more serious note, you are right about not letting your reactions get stale. I do actually spend quite a lot of time looking at the art on my walls, ( mainly Piper and Tilson) , but I like to at least consider having a rehang every now and then,,to refresh the impact. Changing the order, or the background, can make you see freshly.

    So I must go and have a look at the stair hang, that’s where I put lots of little things like framed postcards or bits of needlework…and the found objects are due for a wash and brush up, and a rearrangement. So that’s next week sorted.

    You are probably right about the cats though. You can add in pictures of horses bought at racecourses as well.

    Happy New Year. keep painting and posting

    Comment by Niobe — January 3, 2018 @ 8:57 am

  6. Hi Rob

    How do I subscribe to your blog. I’m on my mobile so maybe the suscribe box isn’t showing. I read you article in The Artist magazine and felt instantly warmed by your honesty. Many thanks Paulette

    Comment by Paulette Farrell — January 17, 2018 @ 3:45 pm

  7. Hi Paulette, Thanks indeed! Sorry I missed this, you subscribe by registering, at the very bottom of the list to the right. Rob

    Comment by Rob Adams — January 31, 2018 @ 9:38 pm

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