Art as Microcosm (2004)

Roger Bissell

Recommended Posts

On 5/25/2016 at 1:16 AM, Ellen Stuttle said:
On 5/16/2016 at 9:51 AM, Jonathan said:

[....]  other people with normal aesthetic and visual/observational capacities see much more, such as the expressiveness of colors, surface textures, reflections, proportions, etc. And then there are people who have even more advanced knowledge, experience and sensitivities who see even more.

Let's try this one, from the final paragraph of Hilla Rebay's Introduction to the 1947 English translation of Point and Line to Plane. (The Introduction was originally written as a comendatory piece upon Kandinsky's death):



// Quote - Hilla Rebay said - link:

// [...] conceived from the primary essence of creation.


In order to demonstrate that Hilla Rebay really was experiencing said "essence" upon contemplating Kandinsky's art, you'll first need to make a plausible case that there is said "essence."  

I can read Jonathan's argument more charitably.  He thinks there are people with "normal aesthetic and visual/observational capacities." There are other people with lesser capacities to the norm, and still others whose capacities rise above the norm.   His operational term was 'see,' a simple act.  

This argument is in service of various goals in discussion, some of which we can agree upon, and some not. I'd like to have more examples of the 'see much more' people.

An 'uncultured' person, a 'primitive,' a tribe not yet fully incorporated in the modern world -- in this person a lesser ability to 'see more' is arguable, if not plausible.  Can one be educated to 'see'? Perhaps. Perhaps the post-contact primitive wass a native genius in art, and in his  life since meeting modernity has 'come up to speed' in terms of sight -- seeking, probing sight. Over time, more insight. Over time, much more appreciation of the great human enterprise of art.

A charitable reading of the 3-tiered classes of the sighted can also supply an 'upper-class' example, a person whose educated eye out-sees the middle-class and the primitive and the conventionally educated. I have to supply this in imagination: a person who is always visually curious and analytical, who front-loads imagery from the manifest of creation, who appreciates the evolution of styles, cultures, nations, and traditions, who can discriminate between best of breed and imperfection. 

I'd say there are folks like this who might become curators, collectors, promoters, teachers, leaders of 'schools' and givers of rich grants. They are also maybe the reviewers and the weather-men of the world of arts, the scholars and encyclopedists of this trend or that, this epoch or that, this evolutionary sport or that. 

Hilla Rebay was not someone I had in mind as an example of the upper seeing classes, interesting though her life and desires were (eg, her drive in re the Guggenheim).  What sets her apart from that seeing much more  is the spiritism of her essay.  It is kind of funny to read in the modern context, where I bet we cannot find an equal.  I think her 'sight' was indeed above the norm, as was her capacity to focus, to serve as amanuensis, spark and tinder to creation.  And yet I set aside her claims to observe the divine.

So, I consider the 'essence' effusions in her prose not evidence of a greater sight,  but evidence she had a flea in her ear -- the Great Spirit and its tuning-fork conduit in Kandinsky.

In a perfect and perfectly reasonable world, Jonathan and Ellen would agree on the example of Rebay's divinity-observing capacity as a sight too far, a witchiness not relevant to rational appreciation of art.


Note: I'm not accusing Rebay of pretentiousness.  I think that she really was sincerely, deeply, profoundly moved by Kandinsky's art.  But must one be lacking in artistic sensitivity to doubt that whatever she experienced was in fact "the primary essence of creation"?

Oh, Great Spirit, show yourself.   And teach us how to corroborate the process when someone finds You as the prime mover in the process of art. One of your people, Oh Spirit, has spied You infusing yourself into Kandinsky's production.  What say Ye?

(I am going to copy this to Ellen's new thread, which looks to be a fun excursion. I'll leave a link here. My own observations are terrifically naive and near-sighted, but that is how I square the circle.)


Edited by william.scherk
This thread is dead to me; added link to Ellens Stuttle's new thread, where I copied this text.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 years later...

  • Replies 501
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

On 5/16/2016 at 9:26 AM, anthony said:

Apparently he was irritated that Chicagoans affectionately renamed his piece 'The Bean', and he has since then painted over the mirror finish in an extreme black pigment developed by the military (which he is the only artist with the rights to use!) and so almost destroyed its attractiveness I'd imagine.

From LiveScience: There's a New Blackest Material Ever, and It's Eating a Diamond As We Speak

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now