I am afraid that there are more people than I can imagine who can go no further than appreciating a picture that is a rectangle with an object in the middle of it, which they can identify. They don’t care what is around the object as long as nothing interferes with the object itself, right in the centre. Even after the lessons of Winogrand and Friedlander, they don’t get it. They respect their work because they are told by respectable institutions that they are important artists, but what they really want to see is a picture with a figure or an object in the middle of it. They want something obvious. The blindness is apparent when someone lets slip the word ‘snapshot’. Ignorance can always be covered by ‘snapshot’. The word has never had any meaning. I am at war with the obvious.
For me, the subject of a picture and its background have the same value, or, to put it more clearly, there is no principal feature, only the pattern is important. The picture is formed by the combination of surfaces, differently coloured, which results in the creation of an “expression.” In the same way that in a musical harmony, each note is a part of the whole, so I wished each colour to have a contributory value. A picture is the co-ordination of controlled rhythms, and it is thus that one can change a surface which appears red-green-blue-black for one which appears white-blue-red-green; it is the same picture, the same feeling presented differently, but the rhythms are changed. The difference between the two canvases is that of the two aspects of a chessboard in the course of a game of chess.
The appearance of the board is continually changing in the course of play, but the intentions of the players who move the pawns remains constant.
I decided to discard verisimilitude. It did not interest me to copy an object. Why should I paint the outside of an apple, however exactly? What possible interest could there be in copying an object which nature provides in unlimited quantities and which one can always conceive more beautiful? What is significant is the relation of the object to the artist, to his personality, and his power to arrange his sensations and emotions.
Every age manifests itself by some external evidence. In a period such as ours when only a comparatively few individuals seem to be given to religion, some form other than the Gothic cathedral must be found. Industry concerns the great numbers-it may be true, as has been said, that our factories are our substitute for religious expression.
Mr. and Mrs. Wase, both in their dumb way, keep telling you things. They are telling you that Mr. George Bellows died too young. They are telling you that he was after something, that he was always after it.
All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth…The minute you pick up the camera you begin to lie — or to tell your own truth. You make subjective judgments every step of the way — in how you light the subject, in choosing the moment of exposure, in cropping the print. It’s just a matter of how far you choose to go.
“Getting the ideas is the painful part,” Watterson confessed. “The drawing is the fun part.” According to the artist, it took him three to six hours to do the drawing and just as long to come up with the idea for it. “I spend hours in my room just leafing through magazines and newspapers looking for a good analogy,” he revealed. “Then [I] begin to play around with it. Sometimes it is very difficult. Other times, it comes quickly.” No matter what the subject he’s tackling, Watterson wanted to make sure that he always had an opinion. “I don’t want to do greeting cards,” he declared. “I don’t want to just illustrate a situation. Anyone can do that. I want to make a definite statement in a fair and humorous way. I think that in my best cartoons, I have achieved that.”
Dancing is a perpendicular expression of a horizontal desire.
Music is, by its very nature, essentially powerless to express anything at all…music expresses itself.
My profound emotion on reading the news of war [World War I], which aroused patriotic feelings and a sense of sadness at being so distant from my country, found some alleviation in the delight with which I steeped myself in Russian folk poems.
What fascinated me in this verse was not so much the stories, which were often crude, or the pictures and metaphors, always so deliciously unexpected, as the sequence of the words and syllables, and the cadence they create, which produces an effect on one’s sensibilities very closely akin to that of music. For I consider that music is, by its very nature, essentially powerless to express anything at all, whether a feeling, an attitude of mind, a psychological mood, a phenomenon of nature, etc….Expression has never been an inherent property of music. That is by no means the purpose of its existence. If, as is nearly always the case, music appears to express something, this is only an illusion and not a reality. It is simply an additional attribute which, byt tacit and inveterate agreement, we have lent it, thrust upon it, as a label, a convention – in short, an aspect unconsciously or by force of habit, we have come to confuse with its essential being.
Music is the sole domain in which man realizes the present. By the imperfection of his nature, man is doomed to submit to the passage of time – to its categories of past and future – without ever being able to give substance, and therefore stability, to the category of the present.
The phenomenon of music is given to us with the sole purpose of establishing an order in things, including, and particularly, the coordination between man and time. To be put into practice, its indispensable and single requirement is construction. Construction once completed, this order has been attained, and there is nothing more to be said. It would be futile to look for, or expect anything else from it. It is precisely this construction, this achieved order, which produces in us a unique emotion having nothing in common with out ordinary sensations and our responses to the impressions of daily life. One could not better define the senation produced by music than by saying that it is identical with that evoked by contemplation of the interplay of architectural forms. Goethe thoroughly understood that when he called architecture petrified music.
Art is the preservation of something that was. An insight. An object. A view. A story. An emotion. In that way, Gatsby was a misplaced artist, yearning for the past. It ruined him because he tried to recreate the past in the world instead of in art.
Bech had not always been an evil man. He had dedicated himself early to what appeared plainly a good cause, art. It was amusing and helpful to others, he imagined as he emerged from the Army, to turn contiguous bits of world into words, words which when properly arranged and typeset possessed a gleam that in worldless reality was lost beneath the daily accretions of habit, worry, and boredom. What harm could there be in art? What enemies could there be?