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Mondrian and Abstraction

Dec 15, 1997 09:13 PM
by KeithHouston

Keith wrote:
> I haven't been following this thread closely and I'm not sure I CAN.
> I guess this is what is known as a "serious" discussion of theosophy and
> as opposed to our present popular music and movies.  I will try to get in
> this ...
It's just a discussion, one of many. Tosaki is writing his PhD thesis on
Mondrian's theory of rhythm in painting, so it tends to sometimes get
pretty 'researchy' and scholarly. The fact that Mondrian was one of the
most highly published artists of a theosophical bent has made for an
interesting thread.
> but I fear that so much of the de-constructionist activity of
> theosphically inspired modern art has brought us to the point where
> means eveything and nothing in a nihlistic swirling mess of symbols that
> don't attach to meaning or anything.
If anything can be a symbol for everything and nothing at the same time,
then that's a pretty metaphysical place to be, no?
I don't know that I agree with the nihilistic conclusion.  That's
definitely a negative pole of exploring the mechanics of meaning,
sometimes you just don't know what the thing means and you have to
suspend yourself for a while to absorb the new value on its own terms.
It also allows us to come to grips with the ambiguities in our lives and
have a means to express them. Then there is other fruit from the whole
effort toward abstraction, like the ability to see the formal principles
(line, color, shape, tone, etc - and their organizing principles,
harmony, contrast, rhythm, etc) in their own right without external
naturalistic referents. This has allowed us to evolve a visual
vocabulary of emotion and thought that was unavailable and unpracticed
It's sort of, in a certain sense, preparing us as a people, to begin to
understand the natural language of some of the higher worlds.
> The sex, drugs and rock and roll art
> of MTV is the result of a lot of Picasso, Kandinsky and Modrian type
> around - not that I'm against it.
Neither am I. It's all about expression and communication.
> But in classical times art was supposed to
> introduce the order of the divine realms into eveyday life.  Of course art
> can sink to propaganda which is worse.  Think of all the socialist
> Oh, it's unfortunate (?) to live in interesting times the Chinese say.
It is an order. It's just a different kind of order. It's the one in
which you have to be responsible to express how you really think and
feel. It's like learning to drive, at some point the instructor puts you
in the driver's seat and you have to take the reins yourself.
Keith:  I don't want to appear hostile because I visited your home page and
like a lot of POST-modern work but I think it is time that we admit that if
the emperor isn't totally nude, at least his fly is open!

I mean this whole idea that one is a co-creator with an empty or horribly
messy canvas a la Jackson Pollock may be provocative of a certain type of
meditative state, but it depends of what one brings to it, doesn't it?  I
mean Da Vinici could have seen worlds in a Rosarch test, while most would
see just ink blots.

I think the post-modern movement back to neo-classical ehoes in art an
architecture with a lot of humor thrown in, is a very health reaction to the
dead end of giant ash trayes and sliced embalmed cows that are or were
recently exhibited in one of England' most  prestigious galleries to the
chagrin (and some resignations) of some art scholars-  see 60 MINUTES tv
essay on this.

Keith Price

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