SHADOW PLAY 10"x8" private collection
*Art Influences & States of Being*
I was reading Claude Reich’s stimulating thread on influence the other night and this conversation triggered some new thoughts about artist’s influence at various times. Artistic influence in the 21st century is so wide ranging and multiplying at such a speedy rate that it is difficult to define. Hopefully as we progress, or more likely develop more positive ways of being in the world so that the species may survive, art will become so integrated into the lives of most people that living masterful work will be a part of every vibrant community. Rather than having a one, or 3 or even a dozen “geniuses”, there will be thousands, hopefully millions, functioning in communities everywhere. I think most artists understand, even if no one else does, that there are probably at least a thousand artists functioning now that have the talents of a Picasso, a Du Champ or even a Pollock. There are too many of us for this not to be true, The more are empowered to choose this path, the more richly cultured and balanced life will become.
The 20th century still contains enough old paradigm ideas and structures historically to be instructive regarding influence artistically. The rarity of art practice (in the so called west) makes it easier to pinpoint during this time, and perhaps contributed to the massive war and killing taking place in that century. How would history be different if Hitler had the option to just live a simple life in art? The idea that one must conquer competition and be “one in a thousand” is part of a paradigm that is deadly. I digress.
The main art influences in 20th century may correspond neatly with 3 main states of human consciousness which are feeling/emotional states, thinking/intellectual states and spiritual/metaphysical awareness.. The 3 artists that personify these states most clearly are in the same order, Picasso, du Champ and Kandinsky. The strength of their influences are an instructive indication of western humanities general states and value systems. The passion and feeling of Picasso is the base consciousness common to us all. The intellectual games of du Champ, who is mentioned on this thread as the most influential, even now, mirror modern societies love of science. Kandinsky’s abstraction is connected to the evolving, though still by no means prevalent, concern with spirituality. Of course all 3 artists used aspects of all 3 states as any artist does, however this orientation may be useful for illustrating influence which is a mirror of the society it is in. These 3 states of being, when balanced, are all included in human states of being. The imbalances of society are mirrored in the varying degrees of influence accorded these 3 approaches in the 20th century.
It is said by some that imbalance is at the root of most of our problems. This historical approach may be used to illustrate the lack of value placed on things of the spirit by way of Kandinsky’s seeming lack of influence. Things of the spirit have been ignored and denigrated then and still are to a certain extent that is unbalanced. As this changes, art will become a much more widespread process as will self governance. Regarding Kandinsky’s “Spiritual in Art”, the ideas in this book in no way match the brilliance of his early Improvisations, although certainly the title matches the content of his best work. It is worth noting that malnutrition contributed to his early death shortly before WW2 ended, while Picasso went on to fill mansions full of his work. The spiritual is starved, while passionate materiality dominates. Mirrors.
I think it is an interesting and perhaps instructive idea to approach 20th century art through the lens of these 3 states of being and welcome commentary and feedback on this idea, which may be developed further in many ways.
What if all of history were approached through the lens of art rather than war?