Get Back. Get back to where you once belonged. Can art exist if it falls off the precipice into a void where there is no transformational effect on the individual and little or nothing to do with what constitutes the human condition? At what point can the disruptive sense of the tragic be completely diluted into a form of decorative unity where core emotion becomes part of a longer decorative narrative nicely packaged, marketed and sold, all with its own elaborate system of ordinal ranking; an overall sanctity and extolling of liberal rationalism and our nonsensical belief in linear progress.
Critic Clement Greenberg thought Modigliani failed to measure up to prevailing standards- vis a vis Picasso for example- because he had excess felling in his work as if the quest for an equilibrium of feeling without the detracting from the extremes of emotional intensity were a betrayal of absolute art, a term to encompass the rupture with the old Masters and a form of identity that served to repress libertine instincts as well as that dogged spiritual ambition that resurfaces occasionally as a chronic and bad rash.
Donald Kuspit:I am arguing that Modigliani rehumanized what Picasso dehumanized, as Jos Ortega y Gasset famously argued. Or rather Modigliani refused to dehumanize the figure in the name of form, that is, to achieve a formal rigor that seems superior to the informal figure and more artistically authentic by reason of its supposed autonomy. For Modigliani form was a way of bringing out and accenting inner human qualities, rather than some intriguing pure thing in itself. Austerity of form was a betrayal of the feeling of being human — and the feelings human beings had — for Modigliani. Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazine/features/kuspit/kuspit7-27-04.asp
There is a dialectic between suffering and the spiritual that the Old masters understood very well before the world became awash in “isms” of every possible sort catering to every taste and pocket book. The spiritual being a buffer, an artistic firewall against toxic suffering, different from Foucault’s Madness and Civilization, suffering that contaminates life taken in a taste of the tragic in order to have mastered it, a confrontation ingeniously by passed in our post-modern age through a circuitous avoidance iced with the aesthetics of mastering it.
Kuspit:This fusion of traditional humanism and modernist formalism is their innovation, one perhaps more important than purely formalist innovation, for it showed that pure forms have human relevance. Indeed, in their different ways Modigliani and Soutine successfully adapted modernist means to the expression of archetypal feeli
explicitly showing, as the Old Masters never did, that feelings are rooted in instinct even as they make one conscious of oneself — a service to consciousness and selfhood that is spiritual in import. Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazine/features/kuspit/kuspit7-27-04.asp
Kuspit:… It is also well-known that Greenberg eschewed spirituality in favor of materiality — he thought the former was an incidental and irrelevant byproduct of the latter [the supposedly strictly material facts of art] — which I want to suggest is part of what he himself called his Jewish self-hatred. The paradox of the Jews is that they are a pure spiritual people — the people who discovered the oneness or unity of God or the sacred — who have been forced to become materialists to survive in a world that however much it yeasays spirituality refuses to accept the control of instinct that is a sign and proof of being truly human, that is, a spiritual being. Spiritual consciousness in fact brings with it a sense of the oneness or unity of self that the instinctive never affords. Pagan religions, which are purely instinctive, randomly — promiscuously — find the sacred in an endless variety of objects [animal, vegetable, and mineral], suggesting that they lack a concept of unitary selfhood and the concentration of purpose that comes with it. These are exactly what one finds in Modiglianis figures: they are always one with themselves and resonate with a sense of existential purpose.)
There is some truth to Kuspit’s assertion, that Jewish destiny, whether dragged kicking to it or by amiable willingness, is too imbued with the metaphysical to be explained in purely materialist terms or by the archetypes of political ideology that transcends that process of adaptation to materialist thought, that kind of prozac induced dependency. There is something to Edgar Cayce’s assertion that Jews occupy a spiritual space and not a material one. However, telling that to holocaust survivors and those escaping Europe is almost cruel to deny them Eichmann’s apologetics for looking for ” a little firm footing” for his undesirable pets, fleeced and ready to waste management. Remember though,that the essential premise of the Cayce philosophy is that we are all attempting to manifest the Christ Consciousness in the earth. And, though we find ourselves in the physical dimension, we are not physical creatures with souls; rather, we are souls who happen to be expressing ourselves in materiality.
“I have already explained with clear proofs that the soul is the dominant factor in the nature of the Jew. For example, being stiff-necked is one of the bad qualities that Jews have. Practically speaking, that means that Jews refuse to accept criticism and will not listen to corrective advise. This is in fact because they are not essentially materialistic. Only something which is materialistic is readily altered. Consequently Jews are very resistant to change and will not accept the advise of others. Further, the Rabbis say (Talmud – Beitzah 25b) that they are the most aggressive and pushy people.”
- Maharal of Prague (Rabbi Yehuda Loewe, 1526 – 1609)
Michel Foucault:Madness has become man’s possibility of abolishing both man and the world and even those images that challenge the world and deform man. It is, far beyond dreams, beyond the nightmare of bestiality, the last recourse: the end and the beginning of everything. Not because it is a promise, as in German lyricism, but because it is the ambiguity of chaos and apocalypse: Goya’s Idiot who shrieks and twists his shoulder to escape from the nothingness that imprisons him-is this the birth of the first man and his first movement toward liberty, or the last con-vulsion of the last dying man?…
…And this madness that links and divides time, that twists the world into the ring of a single night, this madness so foreign to the experience of its contemporaries, does it not transmit-to those able to receive it, to Nietzsche and to Artaud-those barely audible voices of classical unreason, in which it was always a question of nothingness and night, but amplifying them now to shrieks and frenzy? But giving them for the first time an expression, a droit de cite, and a hold on Western culture which makes possible all contesta-tions, as well as total contestation? But restoring their prim-itive savagery? Read More:http://prernalal.com/scholar/Foucault%20-%20Madness%20and%20civilization.pdf