Monday, May 11, 2009

"the Talisman"

"Comparison of others' attempts to setting off on a sea voyage in which the ships are drawn off course by the magnetic north pole. Discover that North Pole. What for others are deviations, for me are data by which to set my course."

- Walter Benjamin

Impressionism had always had a mannerist side. It wasn't all about optics. But the idea that it was all about optics was allowed to stand as a total explanation. Sérusier's, or Sérusier's and Gauguin's the Talisman, is meant as a sort of painted manifesto to a style where the mannerist side of impressionism is to be stressed exclusively, and the alibi of optics dropped. In one respect this style stresses the richness of human experience, by showing what would correspond to a superlative form of human experience, and as such can be understood as arguing against the real immiseration of human beings. On the other hand, what is actually shown as a possibility of human experience is an invention, an impossibility. It is as if the work "supposed" a superhuman author given to superperception. Sérusier had been reading Hegel, in whose works such contradictions abound. Gauguin's career in the financial sector had been ended by the recession. He had abandoned his family in Denmark and was working in Pont-Aven, Brittany, which became a sort of hipster Lourdes.

I wanted to explain the theory of avantgardism. If the lead up to this has concentrated exclusively on "celebrity masterpieces" this is because the theory of avantgardism is a theory of "celebrity masterpieces".

No comments: