Unreal Nature

December 15, 2015


Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:44 am

… it is necessary to … get away from the skill and cleverness of so many day laborers who call themselves artists.

This is from Art Brut by Michel Thévoz (1995):

… “The thing is that knowledge always tends to be reduced to a system. And systems degenerate into mannerism, and mannerism distorts talent, when it does not destroy it.” [Rodolphe Töpffer, ~1840]

… [Töpffer] displays a wholly new and surprising interest for the graffiti scratched on walls and more especially for the rude figures that children draw with coal or chalk wherever they go:

I have come across some, and so have you, which, awkward and badly drawn as most of them are, vividly reflect not only an imitative intention but also an intention of mind, to such an extent that the latter, precisely because of the draughtsman’s ignorance of line drawing, is much more pronounced and successful than the former …

Take one of those schoolboys who in the margin of their exercise books draw little figures which are already lively and expressive, and send him to drawing school to perfect his talent. Soon, as he begins to make progress in the art of drawing, the little figures he now draws so carefully on a sheet of white paper will be seen, as compared with those he scribbled at random in the margin of his exercise books, to have lost that expression and life, that vivacity of movement or intention, which one noticed in them before. At the same time, however, they will be seen to have become far superior in accuracy and fidelity of imitation.

… It would be going too far to describe Rudolphe Töpffer as a maker of Art Brut. But he was very much an outsider with a most unusual aloofness from the prevailing cultural dogmas and a realization of their cramping effect on the creative artist.

[ … ]

… In art, the most innovating movements in nineteenth-century France sprang from a growing dissatisfaction with what was felt to be an oppressive system of art training and practice.

… “I maintain that an idol carved in a tree trunk by savages is closer to Michelangelo’s Moses than most of the statues in our annual Salons.

Both the savage and the man of genius are distinguished by a boldness, an ignorance, a departure from all the rules which make the two of them go very well together. But it is necessary to penetrate deeply into these rudimentary works and get away from the skill and cleverness of so many day laborers who call themselves artists.” [Champfleury, 1869]

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




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