Julian Bell, himself a painter, interprets art from the standpoint of the creator, trying to establish a rapport between the viewer and the artist. Its purpose is to encourage the viewer to, first, look at the artwork, and only then, equate the essence and meaning. Challenge us here to look at art as a reflection - mirror - the human condition.
Mirror of the World traces the evolution of visual arts through time and space, breaking down boundaries between tribes, nations and religions, giving us an analysis - and cross-cultural - the diversity of works of art and how these may relate to from or even rooted in each other and in their social and political contexts.
Humans tell stories, and humans make objects to dazzle the eyes. Sometimes, these stories relate to those objects. This kind of narrative, which is called history of art, born from the desire to imagine how someone would live in another time, and be amazed at what these hands have done. Art historians have also tried to explain why objects are made of different ways, depending on the time and place. That is what this book intends to do.
But a report of this type has an inherent difficulty. A work of art seeks to capture and hold our attention: a story of art pushes forward, paving the way through the territories of the imagination. In an art history of general scope, like this, the voltage can be constant. At each step, the narrator and the listener will feel the desire to have a little more and look longer.
Why then insist on this model? We live smothered by images. Worldwide, streets and screens offer a diverse jumble of visual information and rambling. We are confronted with an amalgam of quotes art - Japan century. Nineteenth-century France, Thirteenth-century Rome XVI, Aboriginal Australia - and it would be good to know the vocabulary where it came from what. And it would be good to understand your grammar. How they interact images? How are rooted in the experience of others? What we have in common with the perpetrators?
Questions like these lead stories, not scientific certainty. The story below is told by someone in England in the early twenty. XXI, which tries to encompass thousands of items of clothing on six continents, hoping that on this basis, the reader can continue their own stories. It's more a general introduction to objects and subjects of art history than a comprehensive set of conclusions about them. Do not want to define or redefine what constitutes art, but describes its range of content commonly accepted. The aim is more amplitude than the depth, the opening than be precise.
However, the method of this work could be considered to be relatively thorough. The narrative is woven around objects that have a large reproduction seems good result on the page. The art is not just a question of image compact and easy to fit, although the reader may have that impression here. In this respect, I must admit a personal bias.
I undertook this task after a lifetime of painting. As such I have a habit of being in a room before a given subject that I hope will have a life and stick to a speech of their own. In this work, I see the images the same way: the kind of art on which it focuses less on what is around us - an environment, buildings, decorations, utensils, clothes, jewelry - than what we face, from painting up to the statues and monuments. The immobility of each image introduces another limitation to the discussion.
In writing this report, I worked under three general rules. First, if there is no way to show one thing, it is better not to refer. Choose something like three hundred and fifty works to encompass the history of world art means a difficult balancing act. Many will be disappointed with what was left out, others upset that I mention too many names, without giving them a face. When necessary proved to mention the name of some important figure or phenomenon that cannot be illustrated, I opted for a policy of "looks a lot like". In other cases, preferred to ignore what I cannot offer.
Second, keep the chronological sequence. This directive advantageous for the reader not always proved possible at all, because the analysis varies from one country to another, but I hope that, if working, have a perspective of contrasts from region to region, as well as the affinities between cultures.
My title, Mirror of the World, suggests a third of my premises. I understand the history of art as a frame within which we continually reflected universal history in all its breadth - and not as a window that opens to an independent aesthetic realm. I admit that the records of the changes are related to artistic records of social changes, technological, political and religious, however reversed or reconfigured show that these reflections.
The mirrors can only work with the light they receive, although they may show us things in a different way. My title also indicates what I believe - that the works of art can reveal otherwise invisible realities and act as frames of truth. However, it is mostly the way these objects are made, not its final status, which will dominate the story. The main reason why I got interested in the history of art is the fact that she seemed to make me closer to some extraordinary things and the people who made them.
Because in reality, the art consists of objects created so refined, is not it? Objects that demonstrates its intrinsic value: that is not what the market wants? Thus, any artist should create a niche for professional products, whatever their mode of expression.
The "imitation of nature", an old European recipe for paint, no longer relevant.
The doctrines of the "new era" gained momentum and visibility with the arrival of the century. XX. By 1910, several raids were on the march in pure visual music, the "abstraction," among the artists of Eastern and Western Europe - the Czech and Lithuanian Frantisek Kupla Mikalojus Ciurlionis, to mention just two. The moment of rupture of Kandinsky, as he describes it, occurred when he entered the studio one night and saw a bridge over the "image of elusive and glowing beauty who posed no identifiable subject." Did not recognize one of his vibrant landscapes, which was on its side. From that moment on, filed Kandinsky, the painting could go without representation. The visual elegance that pervades composition VII his masterwork of 1913, undoubtedly inspired by the Russian folk ornaments, with its lovely colors, however, he insisted, all the elements dictated by the spirit, and were filled with symbolic intent.
The visible world is not simply evaporated in the new art. Their essences had been distilled and freed, as formulas with which one could build a new pictorial universe. They were not only those things that the eye loves to do: recognize contrasts discern images and limited ways, wander, focus and twist, dip in intensity of color, rush and jump to the side. During a concentrated period of four days, the brush of Kandinsky raged on the huge canvas of three meters, with the joyful innocence of a bee to explore a flower.
Short of sight, beyond sight
Europe, USA, 1920-1940
So then, these were some of the tears of the world's leading artists after traumatic wars and revolutions of the 1910s: a series of new - and mostly "harder" and leaner - colors, meaning open. The hypnotic power of what came to be known as the "culture industry": Hollywood, advertising, photojournalism, etc. Plans progressive reduction of visual, the idea of revolution of the masses on the Left, the uncompromising desire to break with all previous forms of human experience. And in contradiction with this, or blending with it, the yearning for stability, restoration and tradition. In this part and the following will make a visit to the ways in which a few artists and groups have made their way through all these pressures.
Other initiatives of the twenties reflected the Russian constructivism. In the Netherlands, formed a group of avant-garde design around the magazine De Stiff in 1917, while in Germany Walter Gropius created the seminal progressive and social design when he founded the school known as the Bauhaus in Weimar in 1912. In both projects participated painters. Piet Mondrian was one of the most important members of the Dutch group, like many visitors to Paris for ten years, this landscape and theosophy had been inspired by the experiments of the Cubists. Than Picasso and Braque had done suggested one could systematically examine the clues that gave us the vision. Was willing to cut the components of the images of landscapes such as Brancusi silhouetted their figures, and with similar intent: the closer one is its simplicity, is closest to a spiritual ideal. In 1920, he was with an absolutely minimal signs of grammar: vertical lines, horizontal lines and primary colors. The sequence of the holdings that led to this abstraction seemed to proceed with an inexorable logic reduction.
Piet Mondrian, Composition I: with red, black, blue and yellow, 1921
From that moment the only way forward was to start building again. In Composition I: with red, black, blue and yellow, 1921, Mondrian asked the eye that has focused in their own ability to judge the relationships and balances, and their own desire for clarity. Initially, the exercise seems vigorous, fresh, stunningly cold (like this old Dutch resurfaces by austerity that we saw earlier in Vermeer). And then slyly begins to conquer. The closed rectangle in the center and its larger cousin in the upper left of the address space to dance, and everything seems to revolve around him, as if they were catalyzing a chemical reaction, an explosion of order. The red, black and yellow open to the world beyond the edge of the frame, projecting through redesigned the dream that you liked De Stijl was undefined spaces that are out. Perhaps the abstraction was in fact a parallel with the newly created figurative painting, a more potent to induce illusions.
The Bauhaus in Germany, had hoped to get an honest progressive and established standards for a clean design lines, ergonomically efficient than would be replicated across the world. However its internal history, over 12 years of operation and change of location, varied because of the excruciating tension between the charismatic host of innovators who were there. One was Vasily Kandinsky, who joined them with a friend who had met in Munich before the war, Paul Klee. Klee - a dry and obstinate presence personnel - carried out a visual investigation honored with enormous implications. Would give the democratic aspirations of the school a whole new level of resilience.
Paul Klee, Twittering machine, 1922
Like Kandinsky, Klee mattered to him relate the painting to music, but brought a more analytical intelligence to the subject. Like Mondrian, Klee separated and isolated the fundamental components of conducting a painting. But in your hands is converted in a box of playthings. Played by testing many things without limits. In his drawings and watercolors, logical thinking academic stretched a hand and communed with the anomalies of the imagination alone, who discovered the dignity and scribbles a resonant power in the fragile and wobbly. Klee's investigations were on par with those of psychology, a science that was expanding. From 1900 onwards, the researchers had opened his eyes to the children's art and the mentally ill. A kind of empathy turns the charm of a crazy experiment, pen and watercolor as machine chatter: in a sense, anyone take a chance to put their imagination on paper, whether skilled or not, is venturing into the absurd. The title contains that Klee had found himself doing: a device that geometric flowers organically, by clicking on a song. In fact, this sheet of 1922 is installed with a reciprocity between the hard and soft that it had begun to resonate through the field of "advanced" art. It is a masterpiece of innocent echo much wider and infinitely cooler than the absurd sexual mechanical Duchamp devoted his ingenuity between 1915 and 1923, called the Large Glass, one of the great black hole that absorbs all of the interpretation of modern art.
Klee and Mondrian, with his desire to re-educate the eye, seem to cast doubt on any possibility of painting based on observation.