Sunday, January 5, 2014

The New Age, Jan 1 1914

Happy new year of New Ages.

I'm going to hit a few high points rather than give an exhaustive summary of this one.

First, there's an article by painter Charles Ginner  about the state of art (state of the art?). He claims that post-Impressionism is an academic wrong-turn, merely making impressionism into a formula. Van Gogh, Cezanne, Gauguin--these were brilliant because they transmuted nature through their individuality. Matisse and the cubists--fools for thinking they could rip off the formulas of the former. Ginner's just as upset by naturalism, though: "Naturalism  is a kind of poor relation of Realism. It is the production of a Realist with a poor mind. A mind that  goes to search out and  reveal  the  secrets of Life and  Nature,  but  has  not  the power to find. Naturalism is the photography of Nature" (271). Reminds me of passages in Benjamin's Arcades Project where photography is a derogatory term.

Related to this, a letter to the editors from "An Actor" on page 280: "The majority of playgoers will not agree with me when I state  that  the performance of a bad play  by bad actors is. a more important  contribution to life than a great  play presented photographically upon the screen by a   company of excellent actors. But I am justified in making this statement because personality cannot be photographed. The living organism is more vital than its reproduction by mechanical means. Personal magnetism is inseparable from the  man himself and  cannot  radiate from a photograph."

These two passages curl back into an earlier piece about the crisis of mechanization and industrialization, "The Machine Problem" by Arthur Penty. It's about alienated labor, mechanical production, the relationship between proletariat and product: machine production requires no imagination, either for the worker or for the factory owner, and therefore neither profession attracts imaginative people. Workers who would have been craft-artists are crushed in the monotony of their labor, while managers who can stand to manage boring factories end up patronizing boring art, damaging the imaginative professions indirectly.

These three articles triangulate a point of view, an aesthetic, a politics. More on this someday.

No comments:

Post a Comment