Dorothy Koppelman,

Dorothy Koppelman
Not Summed Up, oil on canvas with sand, 1961

This painting of my father placed on a beach is based somewhat on a memory, partly invented. I did this painting in 1961 having learned from Eli Siegel that the members of one's family should not be seen (as I had) as relatives one was simultaneously bound to and had to get away from, but as beings existing in and related to nothing less than the whole world. The great idea that every person is a self in the world,   and having in him the opposites of reality itself, literally deepened and widened my sight—not only as a painter. What that means is very large, but that is why I called this work Not Summed Up.

      Eli Siegel asks about Universe and Object in his Fifteen Questions:

Does every work of art have a certain precision about something, a certain concentrated exactness, a quality of particular existence?—and does every work of art, nevertheless, present in some fashion the meaning of the whole universe, something suggestive of wide existence, something that has an unbounded significance beyond the particular?

I think what he describes as the necessary relation of "a quality of particular existence" and "unbounded significance" has centrally to do with what I was after. Certainly these opposites must be in the mind of any artist, however unconsciously, wanting to do a portrait, whether of a person or a particular object.

      I put the thickly painted white pages of a book in the center of the figure as a sign of something not yet known, and yet very much there. I wanted to show the hands as strong and yet graceful, remembering him as a craftsman, doing careful, delicate work.  

      I placed the figure with feet both at rest—folded ankles—and going up towards the horizon, as a way of having the man be seen as both in himself, almost asleep, and at ease in space.

      In my opinion, to love the opposites, want to know them, to see them as the beginnings of all that is real, as Aesthetic Realism has taught me, is the same as liking the world. —And I think that is a necessity.

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