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honoria in ciberspazio

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Spiritual in Art
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honoriartist
Reading Kandinsky in the spring is a spiritual meditation on color as well as a practical look at how color functions in artists' conceptual palettes.

For example, at one point Kandinsky see's art as an arsenal when he says:
Painting has two weapons at her disposal:
1. Colour
2. Form
(page 28)

And Kandinsky talks about Picasso as the master of form because Picasso used brown and black (not colors) and newspaper to create his emerging cubist work. Picasso was doing this formative work at the time Kandinsky wrote; it is intense to read Kandinsky's appreciation for Picasso's breakthroughs as they were happening.

The inner need is built up of three mystical elements:
(1) Every artist, as a creator, has something in him which calls for expression (this is the element of personality).
(2) Every artist, as child of his age, is impelled to express the spirit of his age (this is the element of style)--dictated by the period and particular country to which the artist belongs (it is
doubtful how long the latter distinction will continue to exist).
(3) Every artist, as a servant of art, has to help the cause of
art (this is the element of pure artistry, which is constant in
all ages and among all nationalities).

A full understanding of the first two elements is necessary for a
realization of the third. But he who has this realization will
recognize that a rudely carved Indian column is an expression of
the same spirit as actuates any real work of art of today.

In the past and even today much talk is heard of "personality" in
art. Talk of the coming "style" becomes more frequent daily. But
for all their importance today, these questions will have
disappeared after a few hundred or thousand years.

Only the third element--that of pure artistry--will remain for
ever. An Egyptian carving speaks to us today more subtly than it
did to its chronological contemporaries; for they judged it with
the hampering knowledge of period and personality. But we can
judge purely as an expression of the eternal artistry.

Similarly--the greater the part played in a modern work of art by
the two elements of style and personality, the better will it be
appreciated by people today; but a modern work of art which is
full of the third element, will fail to reach the contemporary
soul. For many centuries have to pass away before the third
element can be received with understanding. But the artist in
whose work this third element predominates is the really great
artist.

Because the elements of style and personality make up what is
called the periodic characteristics of any work of art, the
"development" of artistic forms must depend on their separation
from the element of pure artistry, which knows neither period nor
nationality. But as style and personality create in every epoch
certain definite forms, which, for all their superficial
differences, are really closely related, these forms can be
spoken of as one side of art--the SUBJECTIVE. Every artist
chooses, from the forms which reflect his own time, those which
are sympathetic to him, and expresses himself through them. So
the subjective element is the definite and external expression of
the inner, objective element.

The inevitable desire for outward expression of the OBJECTIVE
element is the impulse here defined as the "inner need." The
forms it borrows change from day to day, and, as it continually
advances, what is today a phrase of inner harmony becomes
tomorrow one of outer harmony. It is clear, therefore, that the
inner spirit of art only uses the outer form of any particular
period as a stepping-stone to further expression.

In short, the working of the inner need and the development of
art is an ever-advancing expression of the eternal and objective
in the terms of the periodic and subjective. (page 33)


Wassily Kandinsky. Concerning the Spiritual in Art. 1914.
Project Gutenberg has put the whole book online: http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/gutbook/lookup?num=5321

One good thing about being out of a job is having bit of time to reflect on these timeless issues of art. Today I am going to make Katie's cradle pad and complete a few of the color explorations from Kandinsky's book. Today I am going to add black to yellow which surely goes against my nature and see what the rebound is. I always read Gertrude Stein in the spring. So, meanwhile Stein was thinking similar thoughts in her fabulous essay Composition as Explanation and building a literary cubism alongside Pablo:
The only thing that is different from one time to another is what is seen and what is seen depends upon how everybody is doing everything. This makes the thing we are looking at very different and this makes what those who describe it make of it, it makes a composition, it confuses, it shows, it is, it looks, it likes it as it is, and this makes what is seen as it is seen. Nothing changes from generation to generation except the thing seen and that makes a composition. Gertrude Stein. 1926.

Kandinsky births new
non-figurative spirits
of color and form

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Thanks for reminding me of Project Gutenberg. I had it bookmarked on my old computer. Now I have it on the new one. :-)

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