Unreal Nature

December 28, 2015

Spawn

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:39 am

… the dreams of retail produce monsters, … the obscene fecundity of commercial image production, can serve as a giant gene pool …

Continuing through High & Low: Modern Art and Popular Culture by Kirk Varnedoe and Adam Gopnik (1990):

… The mutual infatuation between modern art and advertising chilled quickly after 1930. The Great Depression brought capitalism under fire, and the rise of the dictators threw a different light on methods of mass persuasion.

… American advertisers who had used modern design inflections to entice prosperous consumers now felt impelled to make a harder sell to a broader audience with less money to spend.

… The visible result was not clear information aimed at a reasoning audience, but a hard-sell look, devoid of subtlety, that the advertisers called “buck-eye” style; tailored for an audience presumed dumb.

… [However, in art] two remarkable instances of engagement with the material of advertising, on opposite sides of the Atlantic, kept alive in the domain of private fantasy what had been and would be again, one of modern art’s primary linkages to the broad public forces at work in the society around it.

… [Joan Miró] wanted to find out what the unconscious looked like — the grail quest of all the Surrealists — and he intuited that the way in led through the hardware department.

Miro_collage
Joan Miró, Collage (study for Painting 1933), 1933

Miró understood that nothing may be so limiting, and so prone to merely reproducing itself in standardized form, as fantasy with no flint to strike against — and that the realization of what is uniquely personal, or original, may emerge from dialogue with what is external and not under one’s control. Opening up to seemingly petty irritations, choosing to devote an extra measure of attention precisely to dime-a-dozen things others regard as useless or merely functional, can sometimes be the crucial step in making powerfully original art.

[line break added] More specifically, though, his remarkable experiment belies the familiar notion that the world of commercial reproduction is hostile territory for the artistic imagination. Miró saw that the dreams of retail produce monsters, that the obscene fecundity of commercial image production, can serve as a giant gene pool in which, if one keeps an attentive enough eye, bizarre prototypes of potential new life forms are constantly, carelessly spawned.

Miro_Painting1933
Joan Miró, Painting 1933

… for a man on Utopia Parkway in Queens, New York, advertisements were tickets into a social, cosmopolitan world he would otherwise never know. Joseph Cornell’s boxes collapse one of advertising’s standard distinctions, for in them notices that are straightforward informational prose are also fetishes of longing and dream association.

Cornell_box01
by Joseph Cornell

… Newspapers, notices, and wrappers that for Picasso and Braque were chips in the game of urban life become the tarot of a stately solitaire in Cornell.

… by then drenched in nostalgia,souvenirs of a world Cornell had never known: the daybook of the flâneur become the historical romance of the shut-in.

My most recent previous post from this book is here.

-Julie

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