Michael Naimark’s text on First Word / Last Word art brings up invaluable arguments about the temporal and relative qualities of prolific work in our day and age. However, I disagree with him in his belief that Last Word art achieves it’s “virtuosity” only following established rule and form. Virtuosity in itself seems to be less tethered to the passage of time and establishment and more about innovation through the hyper-expression of a medium rather than altering it/transforming it. For instance, I think it’s entirely possible to create a painting using established methods and materials that is completely revolutionary and “outside the box” in it’s thematic expression and doesn’t necessarily need to deviate from a formal materiality. I think that the process by which a painting emerges is where virtuosity can be found.
There is also something to be said about innovation through constraint, whether that constraint is a formal medium or process- I think that constraint is a reckoning force through which true innovation and “First Word” art can be birthed just as much as “Last Word” art. I think the most clear cut differentiation between the two terms was established with the statement about not confusing exploration with expression. With Last Word art, the innovation is a quality of an emergent expression from an established medium, while First Word’s innovation is in it’s unestablished, experimental speculation.