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Constructivism quotes p9) At the end of the 19thcentury numerous but iolated artists were already considering an art

without subject. For example, around 18990, Augusyt Endell, the Munich Jugesndstil sculptor and architect, envisioned a new art: An art which stirs the human soul through forms which resemble nothing known, which represent nothing, and which symbolize nothing; an art which works solely through invented forms, like music through freely invented notes. The idea was not new even then. Plato had written in the Philebus, concerning geometric forms: For I say that these things are beautiful not in relation to something else, but naturally and permanently beautiful, in and of themselves, and give characteristic pleasures, not at all like the pleasures produced by physical stimuli. And colours of this sort are beautiful because they have the same character and produce the same pleasures.

p13) Others found Cubism becoming too sensuous, too lyrical, too permissive. They believed that once the object as subject had been dethroned, it should be liquidated. Three statements made in 1912 by earlier converts to Cubism epitomize such thinking: Albert Gleizes: "Let the picture imitate nothing and let it present nakedly its raison d'etre." Morgan Russell: "It is purposely that there is no subject (image), it is to glorify the other realms of the spirit." Umberto Boccioni: "The straight line is the only means that can lead to the primitive virginity of a new achitectural construction of sculptural masses and zones."

p17) It was Tatlin's colleague, Alexander Rodchenko, who used the term 'non-objective' (later adopted by Malevich) and made drawings with compass and straight-edge only an echo of the constructions of Euclid's geometry. Malevich... was formulating "Suprematism", and, as he later wrote: "Trying desperately to liberate art from... the representational world, I sought refuge in the form of the square." He acknowledged a debt to Futurism "the expression of the rhythms of our time... Already pointing toward abstract art, [it] generalizes all phenomena and thereby borders on a new culturenon-objective Suprematism." Suprematism was non-objective, non-social, non-utilitarian. Malevich "compressed the whole of painting into a black square on canvas." He said: "I felt only night within me and it was then that I conceived the new art, which I call Suprematism... The square of the Suprematists... can be compared to the symbols of primitive men. It was nto their intent to produce ornaments but to express the feelings of rhythm." He thought that art transcended religion and that Suprematism was the most spiritual and pure form of art. Furthermore, he believed that its purest example was a square drawn with a pencil

p22) For Kandinsky, a triangle had "its own particualr spiritual perfume," and "the impact of the acute angle of a triangle on a circle produces an effect no less powerful than the finger of God touching the finger of Adam in Michaelangelo."

p28) Naum Gabo: "The school of Constructivist art is... the first ideology in this century which for once rejected the belief that the personality alone and the whim and the mood of the individual artist should be the only value and guide in an artistic creation. It was also the first manifestation in art of a totally new attitude towards the artist's task of what to look for. It has accepted the fact that we perceive with our five senses is not the only aspect of life and nature to be sung about; that life and nature conceal an infinite variety of forces, depths, and aspects never seen and only faintly felt which

have not less but more importance to be expressed and to be made concretely felt through some kind of an image communicable not only to our reason, but to our immediate everyday perceptions and feelings of life and nature."

p35) In Holland, Piet Mondrian, a former Cubist, had transposed nature into his "plus and minus" pictures. By 1914 he was painting compositions that were severe abstractions from landscape. Although they seemed non-objective, he gave them such titles as The Sea, Facade, and Scaffolding, and they contained obscure symbols from his deeply-held theosophical beliefs. He envisioned an art of relationships which later became generally known as "Neo-Plasticism".

p37) The essential character of Constructivist art was not in style or material or technique, but in the image. This image required of the artist a radical shift from ideas held for thousands of years. Now the image itself was real. Gabo summarized it as "we do not make images of... The image in Constructivism... has these characteristics: 1. The subject of the work of art is the image itself is impossible for our consciousness to perceive or arrange or act upon the world and in our life in any other way but through these constructions of an ever-changing yet coherent chain of imagesconceptions... I maintain that these consciously constructed images are the very essence of the reality of the world which we are searching for."

p38) (contd.) Further The elements of a visual art such as lines, colours, shapes, possess their own forces of expression independent of any association with the external aspects of the world. 2. The image does not depend on any recollected experience, event, or observed object, nor on any kind of association or suggestion, nor on projection of experience onto an evocative form. The image does not result from "emotion recollected in

tranquility", nor from fantasy, from "automatic" gestures, or from any kind of trance or emanation from the subconscious. However, it need not be regular nor geometric. 4. The choice of the nature of the image is within the authority and free will of the artist. The artist may choose geometry, intuition, or a combination of both; he may delegate his determination to some mathematical expression, to chance, or even to a computer. Yet the initial choice which determines the character of the eventual image is made by the artist. 8. There are no symbols.

p46) "Design" is a threadbare word, worn thin in teachers' colleges, automobile factories, and advertising studios. Yet Albers made a poem of it: To design is to plan and to organize, to order, to relate and to control In short it embraces all means opposing disorder and accident. Therefore it signifies a human need and qualifies man's thinking and doing.

p54) It was Kandinsky's idea of "inner necessity" rather than Gabo's idea of the "real", or Mondrian's "balanced relations", which was to dominate for a dozen years... The abstract pictorial gestures made an art of vigor, not of rigor. They were also supremely autobiographical, not as self-portraiture, but as unguarded relevations of the psyche, like handwriting.

p68) ...these developments which, within a short time, came to be known as the "New Tendency". It involved depersonalization of the work; group activity and a cult of

anonymity; borrowings from science; use of new materials and techniques; use of direct stimuli such as light, sound and movement; a dialogue with the spectator who assumes the role as a responsive (rather than educated) organism to be stimulated; and a generally anti-aestthetic iconoclastic attitude.

p72) Groups have always been a disease of the young.

p77) Experiment is not art; discovery and invention are that and no more; newness is irrelevant to art, in which there is change rather than progress. Purity can be a vice. Much great art is impure; the impurities, like trace elements in soil, strengthen it.

p79) There is also a belief, special to our time, that an artist must develop exhaustively all the possibilities of minute differences within a particular idea. This procedure, while resembling science, is not borrowed from it; the scientist, as soon as a new door is open, passes through. But an artist will linger and examine every aspect of the room, even when the doors are open. So it is to be expected that Heinz Mack will make a series of round glasses, Uecker will continue to use nails, Dorazio will makes nets of coloured straight lines, mavignier will paint only dots, Poons only spots, and Albers need never leave the square.

p80) Though titles of works of art are sometimes omitted by the makers and ignored by the connoisseurs, one finds them still in use today in a variety of ways other than summarizing the content of the work; for example, as (1) identifying inscriptions, (2) vivid literary allusions or poetic figures of such power that roles are reversed and the painting or sculpture becomes an illustration of the literary idea, (3) enigmatic and, possibly, deliberately obscure and frustrating titles, sometimes a slightly sadistic jeu d'esprit by the artist, (4) provocative or evocative words, which direct the thought of

the observer without fixing it on a particular interpretation David Smith's Tank Totem or Agricola, (5) meaningless words attached arbitrarily almost like a code designation, (6) opus numbers as in music, (7) date of execution, (8) a group of words which combine their associative power with the visual image to make a new total, greater than the sum of the parts, (9) an inventory of the formal components of the work Thirty Systematically Arranged Rows of Color Tones or Cubes. The differences between these ways of labeling indicate differences in point of view on the part of the artist. Even with an abstract work, an evocative title gives a figurative overtone to the image; it commemorates, not the idea the artist had before he made the work, but how it struck him afterward a self-imposed Rorschach test where the artist's projection is part of his Gestalt. Some titles are witty, some romantic, some frightening, some especially in recent Constructivist art conceived with the neutrality of a parts catalogue. Sometimes, the title is as important as the picture. Paul Klee is the master of the... p81) ...combined verbal and visual image, each intensifying the other. This psychic collage and, as in all good collage, each component is transfigured. Klee's titles are part of his style. The tradition of titles is strong and durable. A romantic attitude toward them clings to otherwise purely Constructivist works like musk. Albers, in his long series of Homage to the Square, often attaches an associative qualifier for each colour experience, such as Blue Promise and Late Forest. Mondrian's last two works wihich omitted black lines, Broadway Victory and Broadway Boogie-Woogie, suggest an imminent shift away from purely relational painting. Titles, therefore, are biographical footnotes and miniature manifestos. A further extension of Constructivist thought in the last decade, which appears sporadically and by implication in the "New Tendency", and more consciously elsewhere, is a resort to nature, but with a difference. Nature as landscape, still-life or portraiture is ignored; but nature, as a great fount of physical phenomena, inexorable laws and orderly relationships, is investigated by the artist and made the vehicle for his statement. Forces such as gravity, or energy such as light, serve as stimuli for the observer, supplanting those projections of the appearance of the natural world which formerly had made the face of art. Thus nature, as aerodynamics, mathematical relationships, probability, chance or magnetic lines of force is turned, by the artist's hand, to confront the observer. The artist himself then withdraws, sometimes covering his tracks by the use of an alter fabricator as his alter ego, and a title which reads like a science textbook.

These artists have created new space in and around the object, which itself exhibits new kinds of surface; they exploit the peculiarities of the human optical system itself, instead of that system's record of the world outside; they use randomness, indeterminacy, exact repetition and self-perpetuating diversity as expressive means; they divide a surface into minute autonomous particles and render infinitesimal differences as active contrasts. While neither mathematical nor scientific, they borrow the material (not the method) of mathematics and science and set them up as "found objects" in contexts of their own making. There are aspects of nature as viewed by artists in our time, just as artists of other times have had their visions of it. One may quote Andre Maurois quoting Gide to describe Balzac: "The true formula of all art is 'God proposes and man disposes'. Nature supplies the materials, the artist shapes them."

p91) Geometry is inherited from the Classical world. It is a precise and logical ordering of thoughts about space arising from the human experience of it. It is not surprising, therefore, that artists in the twentieth century, in search of order, turned to geometry. The painting of Malevich and Mondrian and of the non-objective artists who followed, is a thoughtful ordering of forms found in geometry. It is precise; it employs the geometer's tools the compass and the straight edge yet it is not tied to logic. It makes a human, not a mechanical statement. The Constructivists yield to Kandinksy's "inner necessity". Rodchenko, Lissitzky, van Doesburg, Sophie Taueber-Arp used geometric forms for spiritual ideas. This Classicism is in contrast with two other kinds of "necessity": romantic, which is also inner but relies on overwhelming compulsion rather than on discipline to establish its ragged form; and experimentalist, where the urge is bred of curiosity and the reward is wonder, not art.

p117) ...It is a fallacy to regard the relief as necessarily or exclusively a transition between painting and full three-dimensional sculpture... between a painted square and a sculptural cube there is nothing. A square cannot be rendered in relief. In the square and the cube, therefore, we have two distinctly different forms involving different sensory experiences. (Victor Pasmore)

p136) It is natural to include Albers' work among the "target" paintings, for the square in its regularity is only a step removed from the circle. The square has much in common with the circle: uniformity, symmetry on four axes, possibility of repetition in widening concentric bands; both are perfect images mechanically producible (with

straight edge and compass), independently of the artist's personality. Long used in decoration, they were brought into "fine art" by Malevich and Rodchenko and propogated by the Bauhaus.

p145) Some artists have sought, in the authority and order of mathematical laws, a simliar relief from the responsibilities of personal freedom. Instead of deciding how to put a painting together, the artist submits it to a mathematical formula, which he then obediently carries out. Mathematics is to be found not only in the candid squares and circles of Malevich and Herbin, and the ruler and compass drawings of Rodchenko, but in the hidden plots in the pyramids, in the ground plans of Gothic cathedrals, in the "golden section" of the Greeks, and in Hambridge's revelations of "dynamic symmetry".

p147) While Bill argues for mathematics as "power", as authority, his compatriot and elder, Richard Lohse, also from Zurich, uses mathematical ratios in a less doctrinaire way to establish rhythmic proportions in an otherwise intuitive and lyrical situation. His preset proportions seem to be a catalyst rather than a source of power, and he writes: "An impersonal medium is the primary condition for full and varied development." For Lohse, the work of art is a complex of "logical sequences" with an "endless series simultaneously controlled"; "form is anonymous."