Tag Archives: art

Avant-garde movement

The European avant-garde movements can be defined as an attack on the status of art in bourgeois society. What is negated is not an earlier form of art but art as an institution that is unassociated with the life praxis of men. When the avant-gardistes demand that art become practical once again, they do not mean that the contents of works of art should be socially significant. The demand is not raised at the level of the contents of individual works. Rather, it directs itself to the way art functions in society, a process that does as much to determine the effect that works have as does the particular content.

 

Peter Bürger, “Theory of the Avant-Garde”, in Theory and History of Literature, Volume 4, University of Minnesota Press, p49

Art & Freedom

It appears to me that no one can ever have made a seriously artistic attempt without becoming conscious of an immense increase – a kind of revelation – of freedom. One perceives in that case – by the light of a heavenly ray – that the province of art is all life, all feeling, all observation, all vision.

Henry James, “The Art of Fiction”, in Major Stories & Essays, Library of America College Editions, p587

Fiction and Lying as Art

“It is here in very truth that he competes with life;it is here that he competes with his brother the painter in his attempt to render the look of things, the look that conveys their meaning, to catch the colour, the relief, the expression, the surface, the substance of the human spectacle.” James, Henry. Major Stories & Essays. New York: Library of America, 1999. Pg.581. – James’ argument of fiction as art reminds me of research paper I wrote last semester arguing that Stephen Crane is an impressionist writer using techniques of the impressionist painters. Agree with James that fiction writing is “one of the fine arts” (575).

“Try to be one of the people on whom nothing is lost!” Pg. 581 – the definition of an artist, and the way to experience life.

“A novel is a living thing, all one and continuous, like any other organism, and in proportion as it lives will it be found, I think that each of the parts there is something of each other of the other parts” pg. 582 – great analogy – a novel is about life and takes on its own life, needs to be cohesive, a body of parts.

“He forgets that when Art surrenders her imaginative medium she surrenders everything.” Wilde, Oscar. “The Decay of Lying.” In Intentions. New York: Brentano’s, 1905. Pg. 24. – art is not simply imagination, it’s interpretation.

ART

Art lives upon discussion, upon
experiment, upon curiosity, upon variety of attempt,
upon the exchange of views and the comparison of
standpoints ; and there is a presumption that those
times when no one has anything particular to say
about it, and has no reason to give for practice or
preference, though they may be times of honour, are
not times of development are times, possibly even,
a little of dulnes.

Henry James, “The Art of Fiction.”In Partial Portraits.New York: Macmillan 1894.376.

Notes: Art thrives under uncertainty,Presumption that Art thrives under Madness, Personified as having human characteristics
How does society develop ?

When I look at a landscape I cannot help
seeing all its defects.

Wilde,Oscar.”The Decay of Lying.”In intentions.NewYork:Brentano’s,1905.4.

Notes: Comparison, Faults, Special education, The human form,

Viewpoints

“And then Nature is so indifferent, so unappreciative. Whenever I am walking in the park here, I always feel that I am no more to her than the cattle that browse on the slope, or the burdock that blooms in the ditch. Nothing is more evident than that Nature hates the Mind.”

-Wilde, Oscar. The Decay of Lying. New York: Bertano’s, 1905. 9-10. Web. <http://archive.org/details/partialportraits00jameiala>.

Notes: Humans are self absorbed, Nature is always giving

 

“Art lives upon discussion, upon experiment, upon curiosity, upon variety of attempt, upon the exchange of views and the comparison of standpoints; and there is a presumption that those times when no one has anything particular to say about it, and has no reason to give for practice or preference, though they may be times of genius, are not times of development, are times possibly even, a little, of dullness.”

-James, Henry. “The Art of Fiction.” Longman’s Magazine 4 Sept. 1884: n. pag. Web. <http://public.wsu.edu/~campbelld/amlit/artfiction.html>.

Notes: living, malleable, purposeful

Art versus reality

“Art is our spirited protest, our gallant attempt to teach Nature her proper place. As for the infinite variety of Nature, that is a pure myth. It is not to be found in Nature herself. It resides in the imagination, or fancy, or cultivated blindness of the man who looks at her.” (p. 4)

– Wilde, Oscar. The Decay of Lying. New York: Brentano’s, 1905.

Notes: imagination over reality, fiction as art, why “cultivated blindness”?

_______________

“Art, breaking from the prison-house of realism, will run to greet him, and will kiss his false, beautiful lips, knowing that he alone is in possession of the great secret of all her manifestations, the secret that Truth is entirely and absolutely a matter of style; while Life — poor, probably, uninteresting human life — tired of repeating herself for the benefit of Mr. Herbert Spenser, scientific historians, and compilers of statistics in general, will follow meekly after him, and try to reproduce, in her own simple and untutored way, some of the marvels of which he talks.” (p. 29)

– On the “cultured liar”, Wilde, The Decay of Lying

Notes:  life imitating art, union of art and lying, reality as a prison

_______________

“The only reason for the existence of a novel is that it does compete with life. When it ceases to compete as the canvas of the painter competes, it will have arrived at a very strange pass.” (p. 64)

– James, Henry. The Art of Fiction. Upham, Crupples. 1885.

Notes: competition, novel versus life, representation versus competition

Does the novel strive to be life-like, or does it strive to be better than reality?

Wilde n’ Crazy

People tell us that Art makes us love Nature more than we loved her before; that it reveals secrets to us; and that after a careful study of Corot and Constable we see things in her that had escaped our observation. My own experience is that the more we study art, the less we care for Nature. What art really reveals to us is Nature’s lack of design, her curious crudities, her extraordinary monotony, her absolutely unfinished condition.

Oscar Wilde, “The Decay of Lying,” in Intentions (Cambridge: Chadwyck-Healey, 1999), 258.

Notes: personification, nature vs. art, contradiction

 

It is as difficult to suppose a person intending to write a modern English, as to suppose him writing an ancient English, novel; that is a label which begs the question. One writes the novel, one paints the picture, of one’s language and of one’s time, and calling it modern English will not, alas! make the difficult task any easier. No more, unfortunately, will calling this or that work of one’s fellow artist a romance—unless it be, of course, simply for the pleasantness of the thing, as, for instance, when Hawthorne gave this heading to his story of Blithedale.

Henry James, “The Art of Fiction,” (http://virgil.org/dswo/courses/novel/james-fiction.pdf), 7.

Notes: ambiguity in art; “alas!” in the middle of a sentence; “romance” defined differently; Hawethorne/Blithedale?

 

Notes (overall): The title of my post isn’t meant to tag James or his ideas as crazy; I actually find his ideas profound. Crazy profound.

Fertilizing Frankness

“It is a proof of life and curiosity—curiosity on the part of the brotherhood of novelists, as well as on the part of their readers.”

Henry James, “The Art of Fiction,” in Longman’s Magazine 4 (September 1884), 1.

Notes: novels/art imitating life. fiction-induced curiosity. learning through fiction. communal learning.

 

Art lives upon discussion, upon experiment, upon curiosity, upon variety of attempt, upon the exchange of views and the comparison of standpoints; and there is a presumption that those times when no one has anything particular to say about it, and has no reason to give for practice or preference, though they may be times of genius, are not times of development, are times possibly even, a little, of dulness.

Henry James, “The Art of Fiction,” 1.

Notes: art = changing perspectives. art not changing perspectives = brilliant yet boring.

I Wasn’t Expecting a Dialogue

People tell us that Art makes us love Nature more than we loved her before; that it reveals her secrets to us; and that after a careful study of Corot and Constable we see things in her that had escaped our observation. My own experience is that the more we study Art the less we care for Nature. What art really reveals to us is Nature’s lack of design, her curious crudities, her extraordinary monotony, her absolutely unfinished condition. Nature has good intentions, of course, but, as Aristotle once said, she cannot carry them out. When I look at a landscape I cannot help seeing all its defects. It is fortunate for us, however, that nature is so imperfect, as otherwise we should have had no art at all. Art is our spirited protest, our gallant attempt to teach Nature her proper place.

Oscar Wilde, “The Decay of Lying,” in Intentions (New York: Bretano’s, 1905), 1.

Notes: public versus personal opinion. Nature = Nothing. Art = All.

Why are we fortunate to have Art if Art’s only purpose is to protest Nature? If Nature were perfect, then there would be no need to protest. Wouldn’t it be better to not have a problem with anything? …If Nature were perfect would there still be Art? If so, then would it reflect Nature’s beauty and therefore make us love it more?

 

If Nature had been comfortable, mankind would never have invented architecture, and prefer houses to the open air. In a house we all feel of the proper proportions. Everything is subordinated to us, fashioned for our use and our pleasure. Egotism itself, which is so necessary to a proper sense of human dignity, is entirely the result of indoor life.

Notes: fixing Nature. Overriding Nature. Nature = less, a mistake. Art = more, wanted, appreciated, sensible, sophisticated, “proper,” better, purposeful.

The Indoors, Architecture, and Art itself create a new Natural state of mind — Egotism. Art is creating things Naturally — better than Nature can. Better because it is wanted, not wild.

Oscar Wilde, “The Decay of Lying,” 1.

Is life art?

A novel is in its broadest definition a personal, a direct impression of life : that, to begin with, constitutes its value, which is greater or less according to the intensity of the impression. But there will be no intensity at all, and therefore no value, unless there is freedom to feel and say (James 384).

James, Henry. “The Art of Fiction.” In Partial Portraits. New York: Macmillan, 1894. Internet Archive. http://archive.org/details/partialportraits00jameiala.

notes: definition, emotion, connection

Thinking is the most unhealthy thing in the world, and people die of it just as they die
of any other disease. Fortunately, in England at any rate, thought is not catching. Our splendid physique as a people is entirely due to our national stupidity. I only hope we shall be able to keep this great historic bulwark of our happiness for many years to come; but I am afraid that we are beginning to be over-educated ; at least every- body who is incapable of learning has taken to teaching —that is really what our enthusiasm for education has come to (Wilde 5).

Wilde, Oscar. “The Decay of Lying.” In Intentions. New York: Brentano’s, 1905. Internet Archive. http://archive.org/details/intentionsdecayo00wild.

notes: insight, critique, “incapable of learning has taken to teaching”