Wednesday, May 23, 2007

these bits and pieces

"...for certain I am sending you the pictures I told you about yesterday in my letter ... there are three of them the biggest a violin on its side and then a still life done at Druetrx the hotel-keeper's place with the letters Mazagran armagnac cafe on a round table a fruit bowl with pears a knife a glass. The other still life Pernod on a round wooden table a glass with strainer and sugar and bottle written Pernod Fils with in the background posters mazagran cafe armagnac 50..."

- Pablo Picasso

"The Architect's Table is cluttered by objects that had traditionally been either hand-made or produced by relatively simple, if not pre-industrial techniques. That is to say, the 'object-world' evoked or depicted by this and other such Cubist paintings is the precisely object-world that was -- at that very time -- being rapidly destroyed, and replaced with a new one, by mass industrial production. Every conceivable object -- no matter how 'aristocratic' or 'banal' in past times -- was then beginning to be mass-produced and widely distributed by huge industrial combines. The reign of the spectacle-commodity had begun. Tables and carafes and posters and pieces of furniture and glasses and calling cards and knives were mass-produced by complex electrically-powered machines. The skilled artisans of the past were now unneeded, obsolete; the relatively scarce objects formerly reserved for the bourgeois alone could be increasingly be purchased by anyone, anywhere."

"Clark notes that 'viewers of Cubism have always relished the sheer banality of the things it does denote,' but is unable to rise above this banality himself. He asks, half-rhetorically, 'What could we find to say about them?' If this were the T.J. Clark of the chapter on Pissarro and anarchism, the answer would be: 'These bits and pieces are fragments of the world hated and bombed to pieces by Seurat and Ravachol.'"

- Bill Brown

Already we can do more to categorise the object-world of cubism.

Firstly the recapitulation of the baroque ensemble that itself registers delight, fascination and horror with regard to the passage of time:

(Kautsky: "we see that identical words change their meaning over the centuries, that ideas and institutions that resemble each other externally have a different content, because they arise out of the needs of different classes under different conditions")

so, perishable precious items: fruit, flowers; stringed instruments;

(Plato: "for harmony is not like the soul, as you suppose; but first the lyre, and the strings, and the sounds exist in a state of discord, and then harmony is made last of all, and perishes first" )

objects mass-produced through the factory system and consumed straightaway, or nearly: newspapers; tobacco;

objects petitioning for an alternative use of time: aperitifs; the calling card.

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