Unreal Nature

October 20, 2014

The Exuberant Forces

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:46 am

… as if they were each time created and defined anew via artistic creation by associating the reason-to-be of the artworks with the unpredictable trajectory of someone’s passage in time …

This is from Art as Existence: The Artist’s Monograph and Its Project (2006) by Gabriele Guercio:

… The “who” question says a great deal about the methods and aspirations of the life-and-work model of the monograph. It sustains its attentiveness to being singular by pointing to a situation in which considerations of what an artist does go along with considerations of who an artist is and becomes through artistic creation.

… the “who” question raises others: about historical and biographical issues, stylistic attributions, manifestations of character, the vindication of the status of an artist, and the expressive power of his or her works. In particular, asking “who?” vis-à-vis the works of art is to see them as things that can materialize anthropocentric qualities, personality, the facts of a life, and history itself. In a monograph, whether the biographical and the artistic dimensions are dealt with separately or interwoven, the “who” question almost always precedes the “what” question. What is art? What renders the works specimens of the category of art, and what do they convey? Whereas the “what” question is more likely to suggest the search for an essence, the establishment of a supposedly solid ground, in asking “who?” a monograph uncovers an irregular, mutable territory of inquiry. It seeks answers that take into account the fluctuations of life itself, as they affect the history of an artist and are in turn reflected in it. These fluctuations can hardly be grasped according to prefixed general criteria; their comprehension must originate from a readiness to discern that particular constellation of elements that makes up the oneness of the artist as author and as human being.

… Despite bearing different, even contradictory results, the nineteenth-century life-and-work model always delivered visions of identities in the making. Art was no longer evaluated solely according to technical merit or conformity with established standards of beauty. Sometimes reviving the histories of the old masters or debating the status of contemporary artists, sometimes based on new documents, aesthetic criteria, emotional responses, connoisseurship, and art historical expertise, envisioning “who” the artist is encouraged a transformation in the perception of what artworks are and do.

… “Who?” addresses the figures of the human as if they were each time created and defined anew via artistic creation by associating the reason-to-be of the artworks with the unpredictable trajectory of someone’s passage in time and the disclosure of a singularity of being. The monograph therefore subverts any supposition of essence regarding both art and human identity and interrogates nothing but pure existence. Monographers tend to ascribe to artworks, and to art itself, the very characteristics of life, with “life” signifying the life of the artist as well as life in general.

… “Who” — the artist — embodies the breakthrough into the visual of the exuberant forces, elements, and tensions of human existence. Over and above any evaluations of artistry and aesthetic worth, “who?” ponders how and why the artist’s works transform existence into presence and presence into existence. While methods and responses may vary endlessly, and while there may be no final answers, the “who?” of the monograph nonetheless radically affects the view of the visual arts. It gradually but systematically transforms the field from a repository of objects severed from the world and reality into a space where art shows its power to condense, trace, and disseminate states of being and becoming.

My most recent previous post from Guercio’s book is here.

-Julie

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