Tuesday, January 15, 2008

one hundred years ago

I'm reading all of this stuff written by painters one hundred years ago and it all feels like it was posted by some angry theater blogger yesterday. Here's Kandinsky writing about theorists and critics, (emphasis mine):

There are also philosophers of aesthetics who write profound books about an art which was yesterday condemned as nonsense. In writing these books they remove the barriers over which art has most recently stepped and set up new ones which are to remain forever in the places they have chosen. They do not notice that they are busy erecting barriers, not in front of art, but behind it.

And later in the same paragraph:

Theory is the lamp which sheds light on the petrified ideas of yesterday and of the most distant past.

The parallel is obvious, I guess. These were guys (mostly all guys) trying to move a mummified art form forward, bored with "creating a window" or "representational accuracy" or whatever. Critics and patrons were intrigued but deeply distrustful and frankly a little spooked by what the artists were putting out. Imagine the first time anyone ever looked at a Cubist painting. With no context, no one telling you it was a masterpiece, you'd probably think one of two things:

This is complete bullshit, where's the real painting?


This is a joke, right? You're putting me on, seeing how big an idiot I am?

The beginnings of a thing are never clear and a baby doesn't look like a complete person you should take seriously.

Nancy and I rocked that APAP yesterday. Matt was OK, didn't drag us down, anyway. Now we're strapping in for the big auditions tomorrow. And then Edinburgh on Saturday.

Ah, Scotland in January. Sun goes down around 1:30 in the afternoon, howling winds, drunken Lothians everywhere.

It's a sight to see.

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