Unreal Nature

February 25, 2017

In This Confusion

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:42 am

… We are living in a formless age of transition …

Final post from Language of Vision by Gyorgy Kepes (1944):

… Literary imitation of nature tied to a fixed point of observation had killed the image as a plastic organism. It was quite natural, therefore, that the associative meaning should be identified with the literary content and hence disposed of as unnecessary [in early modern art]. Non-representational art clarified the structural laws of the plastic image. It reestablished the image in its original role as a dynamic experience based upon the properties of the senses and their plastic organization. But it threw overboard the meaningful signs of the visual relationship.

Juan Gris, one of the foremost of the painters working toward the new language of vision, made it clear that new, healthy plastic structure is not an ultimate goal, but only a new start toward the understanding of values inherent in the relationships of the meaningful elements of visible nature. “I try to give concrete form to what is abstract, I pass from the general to the particular, by which I mean that I take abstraction as my point of departure and the real fact as my point of arrival … I consider mathematics to be the architectural side of painting, the abstract side, and I want to humanize it; Cézanne makes a cylinder of a bottle, I began with the cylinder in order to create an individual unit of special type. Of a cylinder I make a bottle, a particular bottle. Cézanne works toward architecture, I work away from it … ”

… Values are, in human terms, the recognized directives toward a more satisfactory human life. They are the comprehended potential “order” in man’s relationship to nature and to his fellow men. Order makes sense only as an order in a definite field. Values are conditioned by concrete events of the physical, psychological and social realms. Values have not yet been formulated for our time. We are living in a formless age of transition, a chaos, incomparable to anything man has ever experienced before. In this confusion, plastic art, the most direct experience of order, the forming activity par excellence, gains significance.

… There are many convergent directions in these attempts to bind the liberated meaning-facets into a new dynamic whole. Painting enriched with new idioms, collage and photomontage, contributed toward the structural understanding of the relationship of representational signs, and cleared the way for this redirection. The motion picture made the first thorough analysis of the structural connection of representational images in actual time sequence. Advertising art pioneered in testing representational images in combination with pure plastic units and verbal elements.

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

-Julie

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