60 to End

60. “representationalism”

There is no doubt whatever that all our cognition begins with experience; for how else should the cognitive faculty be awakened in exercise if not through objects that stimulate our senses and in part themselves produce representations, in part bring the activity of our understanding into motion to compare these, to connect or separate them, and thus to work up the raw material of sensible impressions into a cognition of objects that is called experience? As far as time is concerned, then, no cognition in us precedes experience, and with experience every cognition begins.

– Immanuel Kant: ‘The Critique of Pure Reason’

See also, Robert M. Coates: ‘The Art Galleries: Creeping Representationalism‘, The New Yorker 36, no. 8, 9 April 1960.

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61. “Motion of non-events”

B. The situation is that of him who is helpless, cannot act, in the event cannot paint, since he is obliged to paint. The act is of him who, helpless, unable to act, acts, in the event paints, since he is obliged to paint.

D. Why is he obliged to paint?

B. I don’t know.

D. Why is he helpless to paint?

B. Because there is nothing to paint and nothing to paint with.

D. “And the result, you say, is art of a new order?” A friend of mine recounts the story of his college art history professor who introduced the work of Piet Mondrian by projecting a slide of the Dutch countryside near the Hague, where topography approaches zero. The implication, of course, is that Mondrian’s extreme rectolinephilia was a function of his environment – his paintings, in spite of their putative abstraction, are inevitably informed by History. I am by nature skeptical of this stripe of historical determinism. In fact, until I learned recently that Jackson Pollock grew up next door to a spaghetti factory, I tended to agree with Dr. Freud, who argued that what comes out is more than likely to be the opposite of what goes in. That is to say, I would not be surprised to learn little Piet spent his formative years in the Himalayas.

– Samuel Beckett: ‘Proust and Three Dialogues with Georges Duthuit’, Calder and Boyars, 1965

See also, Vivian Mercier: ‘The Mathematical Limit’, The Nation, Vol. 188, 14 February 1959.

“Reinhardt made the slideshow all his own. He referred to his lectures as “non-happenings” – they were often send-ups of both the avant-garde “happenings” also taking place in New York at the time, and the traditional university art history lecture, affectionately known as “darkness at noon.” Reinhardt staged his presentations to thwart expectation and even exhaust his audience. (He once showed over 2,000 slides in one sitting at the Artists’ Club, in a talk that began at 10 pm.) “He’d sit with the tray in his lap, feeding the slides into the projector, improvising as he went along,” Dale McConathy described. “His commentary ranged between art history and a devilish parody of the travelogue.” Reinhardt’s seemingly infinite catalogue mirrored his interest in two influential postwar theories of art classification: André Malraux’s conception of a museum without walls, and George Kubler’s framing of objects and history in The Shape of Time.”

– Prudence Peiffer: ‘Ad Reinhardt: Slides’, The Brooklyn Rail, 16 January 2014

62. “Status in imagination”

The Imagination then I consider either as primary, or secondary. The primary Imagination I hold to be the living Power and prime Agent of all human Perception, and as a repetition in the finite mind of the eternal act of creation in the infinite I Am. The secondary I consider as an echo of the former, co-existing with the conscious will, yet still as identical with the primary in the kind of its agency, and differing only in degree, and in the mode of its operation. It dissolves, diffuses, dissipates, in order to re-create; or where this process is rendered impossible, yet still at all events it struggles to idealize and to unify. It is essentially vital, even as all objects (as objects) are essentially fixed and dead.

– Samuel Taylor Coleridge: ‘Biographia Literaria’, 1817

63. “Deprived of their tyranny”

If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.

– John Stuart Mill: ‘On Liberty’ (‘Of the Liberty of Thought and Discussion’), 1859

64. “fashionable facts”

As of her great proto-type, it may be said of her that “in this young lady there was nothing real” (or si peu giie rien) except vanity. She could take the colour chamseleon fashion of all the fashionable facts and fancies; she could simulate the fashionable sentiment; she could be artistic, passionate, and so forth by turns.

– George Saintsbury: ‘The Later Nineteenth Century’, 1907

66. “Do nothing but repeat its dead form”

Does Islamic non-figurative art triumphantly proclaim the “Infinite Oneness of God” or does it triumphantly proclaim again, with all other art, only the same “endless sameness of art”?

– Ad Reinhardt: ‘Art Vs. History’, Art News, January 1966

This new part of your ‘art-as-art dogma’ looks like the same old thing. Are you still saying the one thing you say needs to be said over and over again and that this thing is the only thing for an artist to say” I asked.

“Yes,” he said.

“There’s nothing else to say?” I asked.

“No,” he said.

– Ad Reinhardt: Autointerview, Art News, March 1965

The necessity of doing nothing

(The necessity of) not doing anything

“Striving” for nothing.

– Ad Reinhardt: ‘[Notes on the Black Paintings]’, Unpublished, undated notes

Where there is nothing but the one, nothing is seen

Ad Reinhardt: ‘ONE’, Unpublished Notes, 1966-67

Endless repetition of infinite sameness / Not sameness but oneness?”

– Ad Reinhardt: ‘Art-As-Art’, Unpublished Notes, 1966-67

Because there is nothing to paint and nothing to paint with.

– Samuel Beckett: ‘Proust and Three Dialogues with Georges Duthuit’, Calder and Boyars, 1965