Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A concise discourse on philosophies

The Rape of Europa (Titian - ca. 1560-1562)

During my formal education, a memorable dialogue in my 2D lecture seminar took place that briefly touched on a notorious period of history, that being World War II.   This specific lesson dealt with the subjectivity of art and, more precisely, the particular preference of what Nazi Germany saw fit to be considered art at the time.  Now as I said previously, this lecture briefly grazed the Degenerate Art Exhibition, or entartete Kunst, of 1937; a traveling exhibition curated (and I use that term loosely) by the Nazi party to create a spectacle that virtually condemned all known modern art as sub-caliber work - hence, degenerate.

Fast forward to present day...where a much more patient, mature and considerably wiser version of Mike the Younger has imposed a self-initiated sort of master's program focusing on art history as a minor.  Naturally the curriculum includes The Rape of Europa: The Fate of Europe's Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War (Lynn H. Nicholas) as the short anecdote from the aforementioned 2D lecture left a inalienable impression on his malleable twenty-something mind.  The book itself is full of fascinating history and it reads quickly for the amount of information one will get from it.  There is also a film documentary version, made some years after the book was published, which is definitely worth a watch.  As my intentions for this post are not to review this book or movie, I will just say that there is much known now about the atrocities orchestrated during World War II, and furthermore, the cultural destruction that ensued during this era was unprecedented and will forever remain a stigma on humanity and it's capabilities.  Obviously the catastrophic loss of life is the indisputable tragedy involved with all warfare. Peripherally, the works of art created by those lives - whether paintings, architecture, music, film, writing, etc. - are the embodiment of our story as human beings and should thus be treated as such.  

Monday, January 7, 2013

Revitalizing the Spirit

Robert Henri - American Painter and Teacher (1865-1929)
Something that has become an annual ritual of mine is to reread The Art Spirit by Robert Henri.  Delivering seriously raw philosophy, indulgence of pure enjoyment and also the functionality of resetting after another hectic year winds down and a new one begins, I find it to be the single most important text that any artist can have in their personal library.  It serves as a reminder of why, exactly, we do what we do (generally speaking of course). This year I finally decided to purchase my own copy because, as the public library is great, I was getting tired of restraining my self from highlighting and writing notes in the margins of a copy I did not own.  Plus I wouldn't want somebody else to think that previous to them, a maniacal lunatic had borrowed this important book, consequently resulting in deterring them from reading it (that would be a absolute crime).  Henri delves deep into the artistic psyche providing philosophical commentary on lifestyle and technical approach, providing guidance to one exploring and experiencing the world through their unique vision.  Through a series of short notes, letters and lecture-like snippets the the definition of an artist begins to take form, also developing a safe haven for any creative who has felt alone or out of place on their own journey of expression.  It goes without saying that this is a critical book that I highly recommend.  I might also add that it would be extremely beneficial to pass this book along to close family members or friends who don't know exactly what it is you do for a living (and let's face it, that is pretty much everybody in your life, even your own parents).