Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Taking a wrench to reality

with 3 comments

From a very interesting review that discusses Cubism:

In his artistic researches, Cézanne had been intent to paw at the boundary between his personal visual sensations and the “Nature” (or “the real world,” as we might now say) that he could walk through and handle and inhabit. I can go beyond that, Braque seems to claim. I can take a wrench to reality. Look, my brush lays hold on the angled planes of the object world, its facets; look, it locates the edges on which Nature must turn; see me unfasten the presented scene, open it up, seize it by a firm and encompassing grip.

I think what has been most lacking in my own appreciation of art has been my ignorance of the process and history: to see what a painting means in itself and in the context (and timing) of its creation. The discussion of Braque’sTrees at L’Estaque, I certainly see more in it—the rebellion evident in the canvas is heightened by the history.

In this general context, I highly recommend seeing Martin Scorsese’s Picasso and Braque Go to the Movies.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 November 2014 at 1:07 pm

Posted in Art, Books

3 Responses

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  1. The way the Tower of Babel was explained to me is that words are symbols of symbols. Of course a word is a symbol for something, but most people don’t realize that their very perception of reality is a symbol unto themselves of their understanding of what they see, hear, or touch. Thus words are twice removed from reality. No wonder there is so much misunderstanding and conflicts in our so very literal leaning world use of words. Music less so.

    So we have Art Historians’ words as a path to yet another magnitude away from reality since “art” is a symbol of the artist’s understanding of their visually expressive literacy and emotional cues of reality. My wife says, “Good Art is when it shows the familiar in a way you haven’t seen it before.” In my not-humble-opinion, most all cubist paintings stink except for Cezzane and Saul Steinberg and Steinberg wasn’t a cubist. He just made fun of them. Some artistic research doesn’t pan out very well, but wait until the Art Historians get a hod of it and we’ll make millions.

    Arne Nyen

    18 November 2014 at 7:13 pm

  2. I am afraid I don’t share your cynicism, nor (apparently) your taste. I find a lot of Braque quite absorbing, and the painting mentioned in the post is a good example. And I do recommend the movie for a reason: it helped me the see process in action, as it were.

    I am really somewhat shocked at your view of art history. Are you so cynical about every area of learning?

    Let me be specific: I’ve read writings by several art historians, and the sense I got was they were actively and intensely engaged with their studies and were by no means simply trying to turn a buck—and moreover, I found many of their insights enlightening: that is, once it was explained, I could see it, or their writing confirmed some things I already saw.


    18 November 2014 at 8:10 pm

  3. I am not cynical about learning. I am cynical about “Art” history authoritarians. My experience is they teach bandwagon theoretical presumptions. For many, art is not a spiritual experience, but a big cabbage to unravel for meaning and a mechanical function.

    I didn’t mean that art historians were turning a buck, Lord knows art historians are low on the pay scale, but that they play (unwittingly?) a big part in the marketing of fame. When artist’s work is firmly escalated into the conventionally linear history books it gets the stamp of a solid investment and eventually insane $ values.

    In art, I think our purpose should be aimed at a shared experience, not a shared deluded explanation. Just think how much fun it would be for a naive art student to be handed a big thick art-history book with only pictures accompanied by artist, medium, dates, and country of origin. I love history, but not spiritually destructive, plausible or not, endless explaining. Of course, I’m in the minority with my not-humble opinions on art, but then I would argue I have substantial street cred and dues paid to buck art historians. Fine people, most of them are. Bless their hearts.

    Arne Nyen

    19 November 2014 at 6:51 am

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