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Marcel Duchamp – The creative act – 1957

30 Oct 2010 | publicado por dedos | 1 comentário
Rose Sélavy (Marcel Duchamp). 1921. Photograph...
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Let us consider two important factor, the two poles of the creation of art: the artist on one hand, and on the other the spectator who later becomes the posterity.

To all appearances, the artist acts like a mediumistic being who, from the labyrinth beyond time and space, seeks his way out of a clearing.

If we give the attributes of a medium to the artist, we must them deny him the state of consciousness on the esthetic plane about what he is doing or why he is doing it. All his decisions in the artistic execution of the work rest with pure intuition and cannot be transrelated into a self-analysis, spoken or written, or even thought out.

T. S. Eliot, in his essay on “Tradition and Individual Talent”, writes: “The more perfect the artist, the more completely separate in him will be the man who suffers and the mind which creates; the more perfectly will the mind digest and transmute the passions which are its material.”

Millions of artists create; only a few thousands are discussed or accepted by the spectator and many less again are consecrated to posterity.

In the last analysis, the artist may shout from all the rooftops that he is a genius; he will have to wait for the verdict of the spectator in order that his declarations take a social value and that, finally, posterity includes him in the primers of Art History.

I know that this statement will not meet with the approval of many artists who refuse this mediumistic role and insist on the validity of their awareness in the creative act – yet, art history has consistently decided upon the virtues of a work of art through considerations completely divorced from the rationalized explanations of the artist.

If the artist, as a human being, full of the best intentions towards himself and the whole world, plays no role at all in the judgement of his own work, how can one describe the phenomenon which prompts the spectator to react critically to the work of art? In other words how does this reaction come about?

This phenomenon is comparable to a transference from the artist to the spectator in form of an esthetic osmosis taking place through the inert matter, such as pigment, piano or marble.

But before we go further, I want to clarify our understanding of the word “art” – to be sure, without an attempt to a definition.


Georges Mathieu – Birth and death of signs

30 Oct 2010 | publicado por dedos | Comente
  1. The first stage is the quest for signs as signs. It is an adventure directed towards the discovery of means of expression and the early beginnings of structuration.
  2. The second stage is the recognition of signs, that is to say, the realisation of their incarnation. Here the signs reach their maximum power. Meaning and style are realised.
  3. At the third stage the signs, loaded with recognized and accepted meanings, have reached complete identification with their significance. This is the period of academic formalism. (The purpose achieved without experiment, through known and exploited means).
  4. When these three stages have been passed through, the next stage is that of the refinement of signs, of the addition of elements which add nothing to the meaning. It is the period of exaggeration and deformation, as in baroque. Of this stage naive “sur-figuration”, expressionism, descriptive surrealism, etc., are the outcome.
  5. The fifth stage is that of deformation to the point where the signs have been wholly destroyed. (The work of Picasso is an excellent illustration of this stage).
  6. We now arrive to the last stage. To be precise, this is the stage which goes beyond Form, that is, the utilisation of means of expression which have no possible intent (except of a purely dialectical character). It is the moment which precedes and anticipates new turning-points, when one has reached unbounded horizons, in full anarchy, beyond bondage and quite free. It is an intermediary stage, no less useful than the sacrifice of ants drowning themselves so that others can continue their march over the dead bodies…

STILES, Kristine e SELZ, Peter (org.). Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art: A sourcebook of Artists Writings. Los Angeles: Univ. of Calif. Press, 1996.

Frank Stella – The Pratt Lecture – 1960

30 Oct 2010 | publicado por dedos | Comente
NYC - MoMA - Frank Stella's Empress of India
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There are two problems in painting. One is to find out what painting is and the other is to find out how to make a painting. The first is learning something and the second is making something.

One learns about painting by looking at and imitating other painters. I can’t stress enough how important it is, if you are interested at all in painting, to look and to look a great deal at painting. There is no other way to find out about painting. After looking comes imitating. In my own case it was at first largely a technical immersion. How did Kline put down that color? Brush or knife or both? Why did Guston leave the canvas bare at the edges? Why did H. Frankenthaler use unsized canvas? And so on.

Then, and this was the most dangerous part I began to try to imitate the intellectual and emotional processes of the painters I saw. So that rainy winter days in the city would force me to paint Gandy Brodies as a bright clear day at the shore would invariably lead me to De Staels. I would discover rose madder and add orange to make a Hofmann. Fortunately, one cand stand only so much of this sort of thing. I got tired of other people’s painting and began to make my own paintings. I found, however, that I not only got tired of looking at my own paintings but that I also didn’t like painting them at all. The painterly problems of what to put here and there and how to do it to make it go with what was already there, became more and more difficult and the solutions more and more unsatisfactory. Until finally it became obvious that there had to be a better way. (more…)

Piero Manzoni – For the discovery of a zone of images (1957)

30 Oct 2010 | publicado por dedos | Comente
Satyr (PSF)
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A common vice among artists – or rather bad artists – is a certain kind of mental cowardice because of which they refuse to take up any position whatsoever, invoking a misunderstood notion of the freedom of art, or other equally crass commonplaces.
Since they have an extremely vague idea of art the result is generally that they finish up by confusing art with vagueness itself.
It’s therefore necessary to clarify as far as possible what we mean by art, so that we can find a guideline along to work and make judgements.

The work of art has its origin in an inconscious impulse that springs from a collective substrata of universal values common to all men, from which all men draw their gestures, and from which the artist derives the “archai” of organic existence. Every man of his own accord extracts the human element from this base, without realising it, and in an elementary and immediate way. Where the artist is concerned it is a question of the conscious immersion in himself through which, once he has got beyond the individual and contingent level, he can probe deep down to reach the living germ of total humanity. Everything that is humanly communicable is derived from this, and it is through the discovery of the psychich substrata that all men have in common that the relationship of author-work-spectator is made possible. In this way the work of art has the totemic value of living myth, without symbolic or descriptive dispersion: it is a primary and direct expression.

The foundation of the universal value of art are given to us now by psychology. This is the common base that enables art to sink its roots to the origins before man and to discover the primary myths of humanity.

The artist must confront these myths and reduce them, by means of amorphous and confused materials, to clear images. (more…)