Today Years Ago
Fragments from western art history, 1906 to 1991
1906> The counter-pole to the need for empathy is the urge to abstraction —
1906> Returning the individual thing to its arbitrariness and seeming fortuitousness.
1908> The telegraph hammers all over Europe, but tells hardly a word of the glory of Messina —
1910> Movement and light.
1913> The world, a monstrous, fantastic, perpetually moving machine.
1914> Painting sets before us that which a person could and should see —
1915> The movement of red, green and blue,
1915> Constructed on the basis of weight, speed, and the direction of movement.
1912> Not the situation of objects, but the situation of a spectator —
1912> An internal strength whose radiance shines all around.
1913> Superfluous development of sentimental and popular subject matter —
1913> This is that.
1913> The fascination of the visible, the charm of the spectacle —
1917> The charm and force of limited means.
1918> Industrious cobblers and noisy fools
1919> Disrupted by ecstatic rotations of colour.
1920> The genital apparatus
1917> Performing the action for the ten thousandth time —
1917> Habituation devours the fear of war.
1917> Make objects unfamiliar.
1917> A special device for prolonging attention —
1917> Attenuated, tortuous speech,
1920> A theory of velocity...
1920> The structure of an instant’s velocity.
1925> Give the poem an orbit.
1932> The picture swings.
1924> Leave your lathe.
1928> Things that I have already seen.
1937> Seductive shop windows —
1937> Poetry's last great refuge.
1935> Destroy the thing, do it over several times.
1935> Our interest is Cezanne’s anxiety.
1935> Temporary and accidental qualities,
1936> Colours and shapes are disengaged from objects.
1936> Pictures' planes are shuffled and disarrayed —
1936> A thoroughly animated, yet rigorous whole.
1936> Numerous complicated things are brought together in apparent meaningful connection —
1936> An orchid in the land of technology.
1936> The surgeon is the polar opposite of the magician;
1936> Multiple fragments are assembled under a new law.
1936> Effects which the public today seeks in the film —
1936> Changes of place and focus assail the spectator.
1936> My thoughts have been replaced by moving images.
1939> If the masses were to ask for avant-garde art?
1940> Always imprisoned by the gravitation of the community,
1940> Sheets of time and space picked from history like cards.
1940> Art's instinct of what is good and bad for art —
1940> Attempt to escape from literature.
1952> Rather than a space in which to reproduce, redesign, analyze or express an object,
1952> A vocabulary of action — inception, duration, direction.
1952> Exercise a constant "No"
1946> Instead of being a moss, or a fungus or a cauliflower.
1946> To choose between this or that,
1946> Facing away from the end result,
1946> Exploitation of these favourable accidents —
1947> Angles of vision upsetting spectral conformity.
1947> Even external nature cannot maintain the same gravitation,
1947> Surrounded by formidable suction —
1948> Too much coexistence of parts in juxtaposition.
1948> He shows us men and women already seen.
1949> Going a little further along a dreary road
1950> In which imagination and nature participate equally,
1951> The shoemaker without Shakespeare is absorbed —
1951> The procedure of beauty is the procedure of rebellion.
1961> Our lips kiss the canvas as we carry our colour ordeal.
1963> Keep the vitality of the accident and yet preserve a continuity;
1963> The story talks louder than the paint —
1957> The concrete potentiality of a particular individual.
1957> There is no law that forbids talking about things:
1958> A technique of transient passage through varied ambiances,
1960> Absolutely colourless or neutral —
1961> Forms of human energy.
1961> Structure of feeling,
1961> Listening even when I am looking —
1961> No tendency toward gesture or arrangement.
1961> I am for art that is flipped on and off with a switch.
1961> I am for the blinking arts, lighting up the night.
1964> "The War of 1870 need never have been fought had people read my Sentimental Education, said Gustave Flaubert.
1967> Apart from one’s experience of it, there is nothing to be known about art.
1967> The center of the center of gravity—
1967> We recognize ourselves at the center of our own sensations;
1970> The juxtaposition of disparate or borrowed elements
1970> Talk of the surface being used.
1967> An object in a situation includes the beholder.
1967> Certain modes of seriousness are closed.
1967> The constant on-rush of the road …
1967> The endlessness of the on-rush.
1967> Endlessness deeply excites.
1967> Presentness is grace.
1969> Because he painted on loose canvas horizontally to the floor —
1969> The state of things beyond physics.
1970> Repetition is the ineluctable means of legibility —
1969> The work of gravity.
1979> "What difference does it make who is speaking"
1971> On the side of a valley?
1971> Untraceable, and yet already read,
1971> But I cannot rewrite them.
1972> The lower edge of the picture plan gravitates to where we place our feet—
1972> The same gravitational force to which we are subject.
1974> Under what conditions does it remain a blind alley?
1973> In what ways does the unconscious structure ways of seeing?
1973> Film scale, space, and stories are anthropomorphic —
1973> I forgot who I am and where I was.
1979> Clouds of narrative language elements,
1979> Clouds of sociality,
1979> A certain level of terror,
1979> Refines our sensitivity to differences.
1981> Clear contours in the work of Baudelaire,
1982> Let us be witnesses to the unpresentable —
1980> Raymond Roussel's parrot —
1980> For wars to come.
1976> The pure gaze.
1976> Always already.
1980> The instantaneous state of rest and the extra-rapid exposure,
1981> Always already divided and multiple.
1982> Simple ineffectiveness, ineptitude, or incompetence,
1982> Unintended consequences of speed, of work, of wandering.
1983> Is the world of surfaces more seductive than the spaces of regimentation?
1984> Most glorious materialization of pure colour …
1984> A strange compensatory decorative exhilaration —
1984> The waning of affect.
1984> Pain vibrates.
1984> Buried alive.
1981> The authenticity of the artist's experience of his own body —
1983> We cannot stop moving.
1985> The problem of seeing, the failures of vision, already taken place …
1985> The joy of the text!
1986> The innocent eye is blind —
1991> Interested in the results of paint tossing.
Excerpted and adapted in 2009-2010 from Art in Theory 1900-1990: An Anthology of Changing Ideas,
Charles Harrison and Paul Wood, editors, Blackwell, 1996
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