starry starry night

Strange deformations attributable to tradition as it buckled and flared, gasping under the pressures of the pathologies of time.You can see the visible world as a vortex of lines. Or so said Vincent van Gogh. He used the collision of colors to depict a place, a sphere, where one could go mad. “The color must carry it off,” he wrote to brother Theo. Was it mystical self-obliteration, or the discovery of repressed zones within him? …

It was the so-called golden age of modern art;  revolutionary experiments pushed by a desire to articulate aspects of the newly-discovered unconscious mind, the sensorial values of shock that Baudelaire wrote of, the poet, the flaneur, and the new sensations of industrial consumer society that Rimbaud reconfigured into innovative poetic form.The so-called disordering of the senses. The rebel, the deviant, the radical. Today, we can pontificate on the aesthetic qualities of the every day object, the Hirst ashtray, and other pop culture artifacts following in the path of Marcel Duchamp. Critics like Kuspit compellingly assert that this  postart is superficial,degrading, banal, and driven by a desire to be institutionalized;   part of the mainstream .Baudelaire saw the artist as prostitute, fencer, stroller, but never as celebrity. Within the context of postart, Kuspit said the messianic zeal with which Van Gogh approached his work, a kind of religiosity, is  an ideal, one that represents an authentic and individualistic commitment to artistic expression that post modern artists are found wanting.

---"Nothing conveys as accurate a conception of the genuine aura as van Gogh's late paintings, which could be described as all things painted with their accompanying aura," wrote Benjamin reflecting on a hashish session in March 1930....He was affirming, contrary to the sense in which the theosophists used the term, that the aura was not a "magic ray" attached to just a few things or people, but was instead an "ornamental periphery" to all things and beings. As usual, Benjamin did not make himself unambiguously clear, but in his remarks on Van Gogh he was linking "aura" not only to the drugged state but also to aesthetic experience. Perhaps the expressionistic painterliness of the late Van Goghs, combined with some knowledge of the Dutch artist's quasi-religious understanding of his paintings, suggested to Benjamin that the thick impasto and vivid colors could be understood semiotically. Van Gogh's distinctive style thus becomes the outward and visible sign of a particular attitude towards persons, places, and things within our sensory experience. In this attitude, the objects of that experience present themselves to us, evoking a contemplative pleasure at once exalted and disinterested, dependent on our senses but not purely sensual, and indicative of concerns of universal importance that nevertheless lie beyond our perceptual and conceptual horizons. The reader familiar with the literature of hallucinogens will be reminded of Aldous Huxley's writing on mescaline, mysticism, and art....----Read More:

…Kuspit points out that it was to a very different kind of institution – the psychiatric ward – that modern artists were drawn. In an attempt to understand how the unconscious and madness can affect the creative process, modern artists turned their attention to the artworks of psychiatric patients. Modern art went on to find its greatest glories in the dark and mysterious world of the human unconscious. This is the anti-Allegory of the Cave, an emergence into night.

---Is Jewishness why Schama prefers van Gogh's moralizing paintings to Gauguin's hedonistic paintings? Is it why he prefers van Gogh's "dense and textured" colors to Gauguin's "two-dimensional and vaporous" colors (321), promising "a trip into the tropics of the mind on Spaceship Purple" rather than an earth that was a pseudo-heaven? ("Van Gogh wants to pull heaven down so that it becomes indistinguishable from the earth.") Van Gogh's suffering and idealism -- he sacrificed himself to his beliefs -- appeals to Schama, and makes him superior to "the worldly, cynical, self-consciously swaggering Gauguin," who (paradoxically) wanted to mystically "swim in pure sensation," take "the beholder into a blissed out state of alternative consciousness." But isn't achieving a state of alternative consciousness what modernism is about -- what all of Schama's artists aimed at?--- Read More: image:

…Van Gogh, among others, believed in the religion of art, which, whatever else it involved, made it clear that art is more than the sum of its material characteristics and not simply a reflection of everyday life. This is the reason Jacques Barzun celebrated it while acknowledging its limited appeal in a psychoaesthetically indifferent and materialistic society. As you say, artists are neither little gods nor (pseudo-proletariat) workers on a postmodern (re)production line, but they do have and represent certain values and attitudes, for which they are responsible whether they know it or not. I prefer the values and attitudes that van Gogh (and others) represents rather than those Warhol and Hirst represent. The former conveys respect and concern for the all too human – and shows how art can make us aware of it and become all the more convincing as art by doing so (indeed, showing how such concern can catalyze creativity and innovation) – while the latter are profoundly indifferent to it and produce an indifferent art, more of interest as a social symptom than as a vehicle of insight into (and thus psychic transcendence of) the materialist society and social indifference it is symptomatic of. Their work suggests the cheapness of human life and the dumbness of art, while van Gogh’s suggests the preciousness of life and art’s empathic engagement with it.Read More:

---The name is the high-priced, desirable, one-of-a-kind commodity, not the work, which has a certain incidental relationship to it. This has to do with the celebrity culture: artists have been absorbed into its spectacle. Their creativity has been appropriated by it, making every celebrity seem like a great artist in the making, and every artist a celebrity in the making, aspiring to make spectacular art. The cult of celebrities among artists has replaced that of heroes. As long ago as 1961, the historian Daniel Boorstin observed, “The hero was distinguished by his achievement; the celebrity by his image or trademark.” Picasso and Giacometti are avant-garde heroes to art historians; to the market they are big names, amplified by money as well as the media. It is this that gives their art surplus value well beyond its aesthetic value.--- Read More:


The faces of the peasants seem lonely and the bodies isolated. Vincent outlined heavily the walls to further the isolation, his isolation. “Isolation is a kind of prison and I feel more at ease with peasants and weavers who do not even know the word isolation than with educated people.” (Letters 3 47 and 3 51)

Collins  writes that Donald Kuspit suggests that what makes van Gogh’s art important is not its “banally illustrative” subject matter, but its unprecedented tactility. Van Gogh’s combination of mountainous heaps of impasto and strenuously hepatic line transforms seeing into “a sort of intense touching.”

Lubin  states that Vincent once exclaimed, “How beautiful the mud is, and the withering grass.” Vincent put himself into its gnarled ugly peasants, the “grimy cottage,” the unsmooth brushstrokes, the muddy colors, and the energetic rapid execution. For others to accept its ugliness as beautiful was to accept him. When van Rappard criticized the painting on aesthetic grounds, he was in effect, reminding Vincent that he was ugly and repulsive. Vincent learned to recognize and to render what Joyce has called the “radiance” of all things, as an epiphany or showing forth their truth.Read More:
DT: Just like with Van Gogh. I remember in the 1980s before the sale of the Van Gogh Irises painting sold for $49 million there were no ropes cordoning people to distance them from the Van Gogh painting section in the Met, but the week after the auction they set up ropes and there were tons of people in th

om. It was just a bizarre mass phenomenon. It was like this commercial I remember seeing on TV where they ask the viewer “Do you want to invest in oil?” They show a Van Gogh painting on the wall. Then they take the painting off the wall and this giant avalanche of money comes pouring out of the wall from behind the painting, and then I said, “My God, they’ve really said it exactly the way it is!”

DK: That’s extraordinary. That was an ad in TV?

DT: Yes – from sometime in the 90s.

DK: So no one is looking at the Van Gogh – it’s a cover.

DT: Right, it’s a cover for this giant pool of money…

DK: It’s a symbol of money. The same thing happened when they bought the Velázquez painting of Juan Pares. It was the first work they purchased by Velázquez that had a sort of Hispanic, not exactly black man, but a mulatto, and it cost a fair sum of money. People came to see it not because of that, but because it was an item that cost so much money.Read More:
What is most compelling for me about Benjamin is his timeliness, his almost palpable sense of time, which can only come from being thoroughly immersed in time. More than any other thinker I know, he felt time as a medium, a texture, the way it warps and folds back on itself, flows or congeals, inhibits action or gives it grace. He once wrote that the best visual equivalent of the aura was to be found in Van Gogh’s late paintings, by which he meant not simply the halo which surrounds his objects, but the coarse weave of Van Gogh’s brushstrokes, the wrinkled effect which it gives to his objects. Benjamin was particularly sensitive to the strange deformations wrought by tradition as it faltered or flared out under the pressure of time, particularly conscious of what could be called the pathologies of time. This is most obvious in his interpretations of Kafka, the way, as he notes, the threatening force of the future is felt in Kafka’s work as a distortion of the present, so that he is incapable of portraying any event without distortion; the way, again, the present is slowed down by the terrible weight of an uninformed past, especially apparent in Kafka’s figures of authority, who seem to wake from a vegetative existence, and act out of a deep sense of exhaustion, as if they lived in the time of cosmic epochs, had eons to move, displacing the sheer mass of dead time in every gesture they made. Read More:

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