Friday, April 24, 2009

Art in Theory 1

Just got this from Amazon a couple of days ago and I'm pleasantly surprised. I read a book by Harrison and Wood from the library some years ago and my personal verdict was "No." So it took a long time to get around to buying this, and the scale was finally tipped by a recommendation from an OCA friend. I looked at it in dismay, paged through the Contents (18 pages) and wondered how to tackle it. Dip in here and there? Or begin at the beginning? I could never read it all, but eventually I decided to begin at the beginning with a flexible approach, skipping without guilt anything that's too boring or tedious or incomprehensible.

The book, 1248 pages, consists of extracts of texts on art theory. It's similar to and complements Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art (1945 to the mid 1990s) but it covers a broader time frame (1900 to 2000). I'm pleasantly surprised because there are so many painters here and lots of interesting stuff that I haven't seen before. There are many theorists and philosophers as well of course, especially later in the century. As I plod through it, I'll post the odd quote here and there.

This one comes from an essay by Maurice Denis published in 1909:

"We affirm that the emotions or states of the soul provoked by some spectacle, create in the artistic imagination signs or plastic equivalents capable of reproducing these emotions or states of the soul without the need to create a copy of the initial spectacle; that each state of our sensibility must correspond to an objective harmony capable of being thus translated."

-- page 48.

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