Tuesday, December 14, 2010

COLLAGE

Pablo Picasso, 
Still Life with Chair Caning, 1912
(Musée Picasso)




The invention of collage as an art practice was, in the saying of a famous 20th century art critic in a well known essay: “a major turning point in the evolution of Cubism, and therefore a major turning point in the whole evolution of modernist art in this century”. (1)

Collage explodes what we may call  “le cadre de la representation”, namely, the space and the very structure, that is, the context or frame of representation, its boundaries and interior configuration. It does so by admitting a transit between representation and the real, by incorporating elements that may be provisionally or momentarily subordinated to its general structure, but are never fully absorbed into the matter of representation.  A ‘transit’ which is also in many ways a parallel “confrontation” between mind and matter. The collaged elements exist, subsist, persist therefore in the dubious, dual and perhaps dialectic condition of being at the same time vehicle, substance, function of the signifying process and the irreducible, intractable point of resistance in that process. They remind us of the ‘always already’ in-significant foundations, limits and surpluses of the processes of representation and meaning.

Assigned their places and functions within the produced object, or supra-object, the collaged elements become sutures within the flow of representation. They reveal the interstices of representational practices, they are the articulations that bring to the fore the structures and processes of coding, they display the work of elaboration that brings to life representational objects and representing–represented subjects.

In this sense, collage is indeed a self-reflective practice of art, a modern practice announcing,  anticipating, and exemplifying  in the early 20th century (and for the century at large) that “concluding” realization of self- consciousness in which Hegel saw the mark of the modern world and of modern culture as such.


Marcelo Guimaraes Lima



(1) Clement Greenberg - Collage http://www.sharecom.ca/greenberg/collage.html 




Detail of the above


 
 images source: http://www.musee-picasso.fr/pages/page_id18547_u1l2.htm

Saturday, December 11, 2010

LES NABIS


Maurice Denis (French, 1870–1943)
Springtime, ca. 1894–99
Oil on canvas, 80 x 97.8 cm
Signed with studio monogram: M/D (in circle)
Gift of David Allen Devrishian, 1999 (1999.180.2ab)


Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art
http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/1999.180.2ab





Pierre Bonnard,  
Self-portrait
circa 1889





Édouard Vuillard
In bed [Au lit] 1891









Thursday, December 9, 2010

Les Demoiselles d´Avignon, 1907

Pablo Picasso
Les Demoiselles d´Avignon, 1907
Oil on canvas
243.9 cm × 233.7 cm (96 in × 92 in)
Museum of Modern Art.
Acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest, New York City




The Demoiselles d´Avignon by Pablo Picasso, painted in 1907 and publicly exhibited for the first time in 1916, is a work made up of strong tensions, an image on the verge of disintegration, and yet held together by the very forces it brings forth in contradictory relationships, both at the thematic level and in its rather unexpected and unprecedented formal elements.

At the thematic level, the initial symbolic and narrative elements of sexuality and marginality, linking the painting to themes and moods previously explored by Picasso, are exacerbated to the point of dissolution of the painting’s thematic unity and framework. That process is concomitant with the formal disintegration of space and figures, and the progressive reworking of the human figure as the painter reconsiders and restructures the figurative elements into ever more urgent and angular forms.

Indeed form and space are deconstructed into triangular, cuneiform elements that interpenetrate, their hard edges and pointed forms cutting through implied surfaces, exploding the picture plane, blasting the represented surface and its elements as if also cutting through the actual surface of the painting in an intensified play of the ambiguities of figure and ground relationships.

The Demoiselles d’ Avignon is indeed a kind of narrative of displacements and of a severe and deliberate decentering process affecting not simply the artwork but the painter as well. With this painting Picasso deconstructs himself in a kind of cathartic experiment. He clears the ground for the radical shift of Cubism.

In one sense, Picasso’s Cubism can be said to be a response to the irruption of the Demoiselles d’ Avignon, an attempt to come to terms with its challenge, to rationalize the disturbing formal and emotional effects thereby produced, and to channelize the unconscious and subconscious energies and motifs that emerged from and with the artist’s radical gesture: the making and remaking of a painting that represented a remaking of painting itself.

The long interval between the production and the exhibition of the work shows that the Demoiselles was a painting that was able to “complete itself” after being abandoned by the artist in a state of formal and thematic “irresolution”.   That “irresolution” will be the ground of a new art, the experimental, that is, the simultaneous constructive and deconstructive process of creating the artwork, will define the nature of art from now on.

Marcelo Guimaraes Lima




Wednesday, December 8, 2010

FAUVISM

As an art movement Fauvism was short-lived and, in its initial forms, restricted to a few artistic personalities. It was however influential as one of the first relatively unified expressions of the art of the early 20th century. It was an essay indeed of a new art, with all the limitations of a first approach, that is, in many respects tentative and localized. And yet, it was able to reverberate later into the century in the works of Henri Matisse, one of its main representatives.

Fauvism was a moment of liberation of energies for young artists such as Derain, Vlaminck, Matisse and others.  Their examples opened the way to a renewed approach to color in painting. From its beginnings in France, the style was echoed in other artistic centers in Europe and contributed to the elaboration of other viewpoints and new concepts about the structure and the functions of painting in the new century.

Indeed, the foundational or structural role of color in painting is the main or, in a sense, the “exclusive” focus of Fauvism.  The work of art is a heightened expression of the encounter of the artist and his motifs in nature, in the landscape, in the city, or the encounters between the artist and his models and friends. It is a celebration of life energies.

It is indeed one of the first examples of a modern “expressionistic” art form, that is, an art based on the projection of subjective energies and states of mind shaping the look of things, objects, scenes, etc. However, the subjective power in Fauvism is controlled by the search for a new sense of order born from the objective tensions of colors and forms.

In this sense, the spirit of Fauvism, the product of a distinctive French cultural and artistic context, has to be sharply distinguished from Expressionism as developed mainly in Germany, in spite of the many formal analogies and convergences between the two art movements.

Marcelo Guimaraes Lima




André Derain
The Pool of London, 1906
Oil on canvas
657 x 991 mm
Tate Gallery, London






 André Derain
Henri Matisse, 1905
Oil on canvas
460 x 349 mm
Tate Gallery, London








 Henri Matisse
La Femme au chapeau, 1905
(Woman with hat, portrait of his wife, Amélie Parayre)








 Maurice de Vlaminck (1876-1958)
Restaurant de la Machine a Bougival, ca.1905


Photograph by Sharon Mollerus,
Creative Commons licensed
http://www.artcyclopedia.com/artists/vlaminck_maurice_de.html
http://www.flickr.com/photos/clairity/tags/museedorsay/





Maurice de Vlaminck,  (1876—1958)
Landscape with Red Trees 1908




Paul Sérusier, Le Talisman (1888): the lesson of Gauguin


Paul Sérusier, 
Le Talisman, l’Aven au Bois d’Amour
The Talisman, The Aven at the Bois d’Amour. 1888
Oil on wood panel. 
h: 11 x w: 8 inches.


The lesson of Paul Gauguin to the young painter Paul Serusier in 1888 in Pont-Aven, Brittany, where Gauguin had settled in 1886, was stated as:

"Comment voyez vous cet arbre? Il est vert? Mettez donc du vert, le plus beau vert de votre palette - et cette ombre, plutôt bleue? Ne craignez pas de la peindre aussi bleue que possible."

"How do you see this tree? It is green? Use green then,  use the most beautiful green in your palette - and this shadow, rather blue? Don't be afraid to paint it as blue as possible."

The small painting called The Talisman reported the lesson in a concrete form to Maurice Denis and the group that would be consolidated around him as Les Nabis (The Prophets). Denis would synthesize its central aesthetic concept in a famous statement:

"Se rappeler qu'un tableau - avant d'être un cheval de bataille, une femme nue, ou une quelconque anecdote – est essentiellement une surface plane recouverte de couleurs en un certain ordre assemblées."

"To remind oneself that a picture, before being a battle horse, a nude, or any other anecdote, is essentially a flat surface covered with colors assembled in a certain order."


Maurice Denis: 'Definition du neo-traditionism', Art et Critique, 1890. (available here)




Maurice Denis,
Jacob Wrestling with the Angel, ca. 1893.
Oil on canvas 48 x 36 cm




Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Paul Cézanne (1839 –1906)

It is possible to say that the works of Cezanne represent at the same time a conclusion and, in a sense, a new point of departure. Cezanne concludes the 19th century formal developments initiated with Impressionism, and his “conclusion” is a somewhat paradoxical one.

Impressionism is indeed Cezanne’s starting point. And yet, the originality of his art comes from probing the limits of the aesthetics and the practice of Impressionism, pressing the boundaries of the style, touching the limits of the art form. Out of his efforts against the “dead ends” of the new art, out of the “impasse” of Late Impressionism, and by way of a kind of “reversal” of some of the central tenets of the Impressionist credo and praxis, Cezanne was able to produce original works that would point to new developments in the art of the early 20th century. 

The art of Cezanne is in this sense, a “bridge” between the two centuries.  Not so much in the letter, or the flesh of his style, although here also we can see a few seeds of future developments, but in the spirit of his quest, that is, in his demands for a new constructive or structural art.

In the early 20th century, Picasso and Braque, creating the new forms of Cubism, will see themselves as heirs to Cezanne.  Distilled from Cezanne’s works, the geometric “reduction” of Cubism implied also the realization that the construction of a new pictorial language could not be separated from the production of a new pictorial matter, and therefore of a new objectivity of the work of art, a new art-object, expressing the new materiality of the new century.

Marcelo Guimaraes Lima




Paul Cézanne (1839–1906)
Mountain Sainte-Victoire1882-1885
Oil on canvas, 65,5 × 81,7 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York





Paul Cézanne (1839–1906)
Mountain Sainte-Victoire, 1885-1887
Oil on canvas, 67 × 92 cm
Courtauld Institute Galleries
London





Paul Cézanne (1839–1906) 
Road Before the Mountain Sainte-Victoire  1898-1902,
Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg