Michael Ayrton

1921 - 1975

An Essay by J.C. Leissring


have earlier written that my attention to a work of art concerns an

emotional, gestural, wordless, feeling state-of-mind. Thus, I am

moved by art as one who falls in love is moved. Putting this matter of feeling states into words is essentially impossible, however every writer tries. Since I have already repeated myself, once, let me do so again and say I appreciate most those critics of any form of expression–food, music, art, literature–who tell me forthrightly whether they like a given experience and, if they are able to do so, to tell me why they do (or do not).

There is a peculiar mystery about Michael Ayrton that I am unable to unravel from this position in space and time. It may come to pass that at some future time I will encounter just the person who will tell me why Aryton has not achieved the kind of artistic reputation he clearly deserves and why he seems to be hidden in the cracks of art history. This will likely not always be so.


Michael Ayrton

This essay is to be a brief view of his life and of some of his work. Mainly, it intends to be a description of my own reaction to him, and by this pronoun I mean his work. A few momentous encounters exist that, on retrospect, form the points on a complicated pathway of discovery and self-discovery forming a given life. When viewed as a two-dimensional figure, such an analogical construct, this path, might be revealed as a pattern of a maze interior, with many dead ends, switchbacks and changes of course which, plotted as a plan on paper, will reveal much. My architect friend, Carson Bowler tells me when the plan view of a complicated dwelling and its surrounds looks good, a building constructed from such a plan will feel good when lived-in. And, when I take out my metaphorical maze-plan and plot my encounters, with specific individuals in mind--the writers, artists, musicians, thinkers, jesters--the re-living of the life that was built from such a plan feels good for me.

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 Bronze 1956
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