Beyond Belief
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Without End: The making of art and the spiritual journey as voyages that never conclude.
Was “AC – testplayer copy”
Brice Marden
Cold Mountain 6 (Bridge), 1989-91. Oil on linen. 108 in. x 144 in. Collection SFMOMA, purchase through a gift of Phyllis Wattis. © Brice Marden/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
Into the Wild
The Jewish mystical tradition, struggling to articulate the contours of God, sometimes calls the divine presence Ain Sof, Hebrew for “Without End.” This term suggests that the divine being is ultimately unknowable, an infinite vastness onto which a human inscription would barely register.

In Cold Mountain 6 (Bridge), Brice Marden evokes the journey of Chinese monks into the wilderness, their search for ultimate wisdom suggested by the random markings on an enormous canvas.
Barnett Newman
Barnett Newman
Zim Zum I, 1969. Weathering steel. 96 in. x 72 ½ in. x 180 in. Collection SFMOMA, purchase through a gift of Phyllis Wattis. © 2013 The Barnett Newman Foundation/Artists Right Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Ian Reeves.
Making Space
Barnett Newman relied on Jewish mystical ideas as inspiration for several important works, including his large sculpture Zim Zum I. The title refers to a medieval kabbalistic idea, known as tsimtsum in Hebrew, in which God partially withdrew from the universe in order to create space for humans to emerge. This withdrawal was followed by the emergence of a divine ray of light which set an infinite cosmic process in motion.
Which of these extensions of tsimtsum most resonates with you?

See how others have answered.

Parents or mentors would be wise to practice tsimtsum, offering space for original ideas to emerge.
Deeply original creativity—emerging from people like Marie Curie, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, or Steve Jobs—opens up a new universe of exploration.
A museum needs to create tsimtsum, making space for visitors to experience their own interpretations of art.
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Round and Round
Some artists describe the relationship between their art and the viewer as being as important as the creative act itself: the work is unfinished unless a reader or consumer interacts with it, creating a never-ending process of creation and interpretation. Two artists in Beyond Belief, Teresita Fernández and Nam June Paik, evoke this aspect of art “without end.”

Teresita Fernández: Fire In this radiant, immersive installation inspired by the ephemeral nature of fire, the viewer becomes a collaborator in the creation of the work by circling the installation and responding to the thousands of richly colored silk threads that make up the piece. In mythology, fire often symbolizes the connection between mortals and gods.

Nam June Paik: TV Buddha Nam June Paik was an important pioneer of video installation art, and TV Buddha is an archetypal example of his work that both embraces and questions modern technology. His work anticipated important aspects of our wired culture, and his Buddha watching a never-ending live feed of its own image prompts profound questions about the spiritual value of an electronic culture.
Teresita Fernández

Teresita Fernández
Fire, 2005. Silk yarn, steel armature, and epoxy. 96 in. x 144 in. Collection SFMOMA, Accessions Committee Fund purchase. © Teresita Fernández.

Nam June Paik

Nam June Paik
TV Buddha, 1989. Closed-circuit video installation, bronze. 23 3/4 in. x 27 1/2 in. x 98 1/2 in. Partial and promised gift of Pamela and Richard Kramlich to the New Art Trust to benefit the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and Tate, United Kingdom. © Estate of Nam June Paik.