Monday, September 29, 2008

The Only Thing We have to Fear is Fear Itself

Banned Books Week
Celebrating the Freedom to Read

September 27–October 4, 2008

How are you celebrating Banned Books Week? Observed during the last week of September each year since 1982, the American Library Association event reminds Americans and other interested people not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted.

Reflecting upon the fact that one of the books that is counted amongst the top 100 Banned Books is D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover led me to recall a visit La Fonda de Taos in Taos, New Mexico approximately ten years ago. Outside of the lobby door of the hung a wooden sign bearing the words:

''D. H. Lawrence, Author: Lady Chatterley's Lover. This is The Only Showing of the D. H. Lawrence Controversial Paintings since his Exhibition Was Permanently Banned by Scotland Yard, When his show Opened at the Warren Galleries, London, in 1929.''

My curiosity was piqued; for the paltry sum of one dollar, I gained entry into the hotel manager’s office where the paintings were unceremoniously hung alongside numerous photographs and correspondence from “The British Crown.”

Prior to my trip to Taos, I was familiar with Lawrence the writer, but was blissfully unaware of his experience as a painter. It has been suggested Lawrence's desire to paint was due to his growing disenchantment with words and his sense that language was too civilized to convey the rawness of emotional depth. Additionally, he apparently felt a need to provoke the viewer, not just in words, but in images, for as he wrote to one friend: 'I put a phallus in each one of my pictures somewhere. And I paint no picture that won't shock people's castrated social spirituality. I do this out of positive belief, that the phallus is a great sacred image: it represents a deep, deep life which has been denied in us, and is still denied'.

The story of how Lawrence’s paintings came to reside in Taos, in my opinion, is an interesting tale – one that makes us examine our own social prejudices and re-examine what is truly offensive to the spirit. On 15 June 1929, approximately 20 oil paintings and watercolors by D.H. Lawrence debuted as a one-man exhibition at the Warren Gallery in London, England. Although many of the paintings were inspired by Biblical scenes and mythology, (ie. A Holy Family, Boccaccio Story, Fight With an Amazon, Leda and the Swan and Under the Mango Tree), many (if not most) of the paintings reflected unabashed nudity. As D.H. Lawrence’s book, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, had already been declared obscene in the UK , the exhibition drew additional attention and complaints condemning the work as “an outrage upon decency.” No less than 12,000 visitors viewed the paintings prior to the authorities confiscating thirteen of Lawrence’s paintings, and ultimately forced the Warren Gallery to close.

Paradoxically, when Lawrence’s paintings were censored he responded not with anguish,as when Lady Chatterley's Lover was proscribed, but with a satire of 'Innocent England':

'Oh what a pity, Oh! Don't you agree that figs aren't found in the land of the free! Fig trees don't grow in my native land; There's never a fig-leaf near at hand When you want one; so I did without; And that is what the row's about'

Despite this, he did not want the works to languish in obscurity, or to "be burned". Therefore, after much notoriety, the prosecution and defense counsel final arrived at a compromise by which the paintings were returned to Lawrence on the condition that they would never be exhibited in England again. The paintings were subsequently shipped to the United States, where they have remained since that fateful decision in March 1930.

Some of the paintings are at the University of Texas, Austin, but nine of the thirteen paintings landed in the hotel in Taos. Frieda Lawrence returned to Taos a few years after her husband’s death with her Italian lover, Angelo Ravagli, who became her husband in 1950. After Frieda died in August 1956, Ravagli sold the nine oil paintings to Saki Karavas, a Greek expatriate, art collector, and hotelier of La Fonda de Taos. Karavas, an avid Lawrence fan, hung the paintings in his office at the hotel, amongst stacks of papers, boxes stacked high, and general disarray. Saki. never would disclose what he paid for Lawrence’s paintings and, though he received many generous offers over the years, he refused to sell them. When I visited the “office/Gallery”, there was a copy of a correspondence that had been exchanged between Karavas and Her Magesty’s Government, requesting the return of the paintings to Britain contending the paintings were “National Treasures”. His clever response was to offer to trade the paintings for the return of the Elgin marbles to Greece. Needless to say, both the paintings and the Elgin Marbles remained unmoved. Unmarried, Karavas left the paintings and the hotel to the five children of long-time friends, George and Cordelia Sahd.’ at the time of his death in 1996. I am advised that after the death of Karavas, Lawrence’s paintings were dispersed, although I haven't been able to confirm this inforation.

As a writer, Lawrence followed the principle advocated by Saul Bellow's Augie March that "everybody knows there is no fineness or accuracy of suppression; if you hold down one thing you hold down the adjoining". I suspect that as a painter, he saw things quite similarly, especially as he held William Blake in great esteem because of the visionary quality of his poetry and paintings. Blake was a notable exception in Lawrence’s view, and it is my opinion that he sought to emulate Blake’s prophetic spirit in his artistic works.

In his essay, "Introduction to these Paintings", Lawrence held that the reason why the British and the Americans produce so few Old Masters is because, "The fault, lies in the English attitude to life. The English, and the Americans following them, are paralysed by fear. That is what thwarts and distorts the Anglo-Saxon existence, this paralysis of fear... It is an old fear, which seemed to dig into the English soul at the time of the Renaissance. Nothing could be more lovely and fearless than Chaucer. But already Shakespeare is morbid with fear, fear of consequences."

Alluding to matters of sex, and the impact of Puritanism, Lawrence argued, "Vision became more optical, less intuitive... look at England! Hogarth, Reynolds, Gainsborough, they are all already bourgeois. The coat is really more important than the man. It is amazing how important clothes suddenly become, how they cover the subject..."

Whether one is reading Lawrence or viewing his paintings today, it is hard to evoke the passion the works once induced amongst the public outcry concerning obscenity. Certainly, there are hints of lubricous behavior to act as a pied piper for the mind, but in our jaded society even Lawrence would be shocked to discover that nudity isn’t enough today to scandalize the general public nor has it reduced our fear of inspired and creative spirits.

The contemporary visionary John F. Kennedy held, " If this nation is to be wise as well as strong, if we are to achieve our destiny, then we need more new ideas for more wise men reading more good books in more public libraries. These libraries should be open to all --- except the censor. We must know all the facts and hear all the alternatives and listen to all the criticisms. Let us welcome controversial books and controversial authors. For the Bill of Rights is the guardian of our security as well as our liberty."

Friday, September 26, 2008

Danceband on the Titanic

Stormy Sea
An oil painting by Sharon A. Hart

The thought of buying art whilst worldwide economic tsunamis threaten the stability of countries may seem akin to the proverbial tale of Nero playing his lyre and singing while Rome burned. However, the analogy fails because it does not consider the fact that art is not an empty experience of self-indulgence, but a commodity upon which many depend for their “daily bread”. Professional artists and gallery owners are dependent upon the sales of art work to pay their mortgages and feed their children. Likewise, an entire host of peripheral businesses, both large and small, are closely tied to the welfare of the artists---frame shops, corporations that produce moldings, mat board, glass, clay, and various forms of media that are used in the creation of art. Even shipping companies, stationary and book publishers are impacted by the economics of art, for without the patronage of artists, a significant portion of their business would be lost.

Professor Nicholas Negroponte, co-founder of the Media Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is a visionary pioneer of computer-aided design and is the founder of the One Laptop per Child initiative, which seeks to provide millions of poor children throughout the world with educational opportunities by providing them low-cost laptop computers. Earlier this month he delivered the keynote speech for John Maeda's Inauguration at the Rhode Island School of Design. I was particularly struck by his astute comment, “Hundreds of years from now we will not remember our corporations of today or even prominent politicians. Instead we will be remembered for the great art that our society will leave for future generations. It follows that great art is a great long-term investment. So if you’re going to invest, think about investing in art."

Despite the bearish economic news, the art world has maneuvered through the tough economic times in recent months, and years. One need only look at the highly publicised Sotheby auction where the shameless promoter Damien Hirst flogged his copious wares to recognize that within certain circles money is still flowing freely despite general consumer confidence falling and the economic crisis on Wall Street. In fact, according to Sotheby’s, the eleven days of pre-sale exhibition drew in some 21,000 visitors and the auction house generated a total revenue of £70.5m (over $127m) on 15 September and £40.9m the day after.

Unfortunately, not all art events are as successful as the Sotheby's auction in London. Last weekend I attended Las Vegas Artexpo, at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada. Whereas last year, Artexpo Las Vegas reported 11,000 attendees, the silence of the hall was a dinning contrast this year. The show’s organizers’ marketing information stated, “The 2008 show has moved to a larger exhibit hall in the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in order to accommodate more exhibitors and buyers. The expansion has enabled the growth of the SOLO Independent Artists Pavilion and the introduction of EXPOSURE, a new section dedicated to burgeoning fine art photographers. Artexpo Las Vegas is quickly establishing itself as the premier fine art fair of the West coast.” With this in mind, I was looking forward to an improvement over last year’s event. Despite this, the show was moved into smaller quarters, was poorly marketed at the local level and experienced very little foot traffic. Many exhibitors failed to sell sufficiently to cover their booth space rentals, and attempted to dismissively take solace in the philosophy that the trade show ultimately was about networking, not sales.

It was obvious that the artists who did well at the show were those who were focusing on art that was unique and well-executed. It also was quite interesting that the alarm may have sounded on abstract and conceptual art, for the few works that sold were figurative and landscape pieces forged from the realistic schools.

It is my belief that the difference between the success of the afore-mentioned spectacle at Sotheby's and Artexpo Las Vegas is that one was successfully promoted and the other was not. In fact, I witnessed little promotion of Artexpo in Las Vegas compared to last year's advertising. In the words of an old adage, "the proof was in the pudding"...and in this case, the pudding flopped by all accounts.

In May, I read an interesting article that asked the question “Should you put your assets in art, stocks, or real estate? “ The article quoted the research of Jianping Mei and Michael Moses’s Semi Annual All Art Index, which compares how approximately 11,000 pieces of art fare when sold and resold at auction. This index was compared to the S & P 500 and the S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index to track how real property (houses), stocks and art compared as investment property between the period of June and December from 1987 to 2007. It indicated that art offered a better return on one's investment, although one must realize that art cannot be liquidated as quickly as homes or stocks and is also directly impacted by changing societal tastes.

Considering the spiraling subprime mortgage problems, the stock market crashing, and general economic crisis, these discussions become moot issues when one is concerned about how one is going to put gasoline in the vehicles we drive, heat our homes, feed our families and keep a roof over one’s head. However, if one is not in a place to be concerned about Maslow’s Basic Hierarchy of Needs, it appears that art is not only a better investment option for one’s portfolio, but it is actually a responsible choice, for you ultimately employ a domino effect of individuals who are dependent upon a purchase that will delight you and others, not only through a recession or a depression, a bear or a bull market, or simply provide a safe harbor for your assets while the market tsunami crashes all around.

Nathaniel Hawthorne contended, "Religion and art spring from the same root and are close kin. Economics and art are strangers." I emphatically disagree with the final statement. Economics and art are lovers; society should encourage them to fully embrace each other during these turbulant times.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Artist's Muse Wins Another Award!

Seeing through a lens of gratitude effects the way one can see each moment. As Meister Eckhert counseled, "If the only prayer you ever say is 'thank you,' it will be enough!"

Recently, I was reminded how much I have to be grateful for when I received an award from a fellow blogger, Veronica Escudero, the talented artist and author of “A Painting A Day by Veronica Escudero” . Here’s the Award I was presented:

In this world, we are faced with rules and regulations with the intent that civility is maintained. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that the acceptance of this award also came with rules. They follow herewith:

1. The winner can put the logo on his/her blog

2. Link the person you received your award from

3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs

4. Put links of those blogs on yours, and

5. Leave a message on the blogs that you've nominated

Since my foray into blogging, last January I’ve discovered a diverse array of blogs. There is truly “something for everyone”, and the quality of writing is equally varied. Because there are many blogs I enjoy visiting it was a difficult task narrowing the list down to seven blogs of note. Please check out the blogs I’ve nominated for this award; all of them are worthy of one’s attention. The nominees are listed in alphabetical order......
A Postcard A day
Alex is Wired
Clark’s Picks
Dom Care Dragon
First Door on The Left
From A Yellow House In England
Ken Armstrong Writing Stuff

I am grateful to each of the blog authors for their amazing and fascinating contributions, especially Veronica Escudero at A Painting A Day and Caroline at Dom Care Dragon. Thank you for enriching my life!

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Booker, The Dobell and the Ultimate Prize

The greatest mystery is not that we have been flung at random between the profusion of matter and of the stars, but that within this prison we can draw from ourselves images powerful enough to deny our nothingness.
--Andre Malraux

In 2001, Graham Huggan published
The Postcolonial Exotic: Marketing the Margins, a scholarly book that examines some of the processes by which value is given to postcolonial works within their cultural field. He uses both literary-critical and sociological methods of analysis of the marketing of "products" for Western consumption.

Higgan’s postcolonial study includes a section on the Booker Prize, arguably the world's most important literary award which has the power to transform the fortunes of authors. The 1996 winner Graham Swift commented upon the import of the Booker thusly, "
Prizes don't make writers and writers don't write to win prizes, but in the near-glut of literary awards now on offer, the Booker remains special. It's the one which, if we're completely honest, we most covet."

Now in its 40th year, the prize attempts to reward the author of the best original full-length novel of the year, written in the English language, by a citizen of either the British Commonwealth of Nations or the Republic of Ireland.

Whilst discussing the impact and the history of the Booker Prize, Huggan advised,
Literary prizes have existed in one form or another for many centuries. . …..As state subsidies of the arts have dwindled, alarmingly in many countries, corporate sponsors have emerged to dominate the literary/artistic scene. [The Postcolonial Exotic, pg 105]

Indeed, such is the origin of the Booker Prize, established by the Booker McConnell company, a leading multinational agribusiness, who began sponsoring the event in 1968. In 2002, the administration of the prize was transferred to the Booker Prize Foundation. At that time, the title sponsor became the investment company Man Group, which opted to retain "Booker" as part of the official title of the prize. Although the official name of the award is the “Man Booker Prize for Fiction”, aficionados and the media alike simply refer to it as “the Booker.”

In previous years, the gala dinner, where the winner of the award is announced, was televised in the UK and the Commonwealth nations awaited the decision of the judges with baited breath and much learned debate. I vividly recall one year (1990) when a panel of writers inclusive of Germaine Greer discussed the books that had been shortlisted for the prize, and then did a post-mortem analysis, similar to the way political speeches are addressed by the political analysts and the media in the United States, and movies are dissected when awarded “Oscars”. In fact,
The Economist, a weekly news and international affairs publication, referred to this reception thusly," The {Booker} Prize has become a British institution, rather like Derby Day. "

Recently, there was an excellent article in
The Guardian which provided vignettes gleaned from the annual adjudication of the Booker prize winner. Even if you’re not a bibliophile, it is an enjoyable read, especially as you learn about the horse-trading, the tantrums, and the personality politics that contributed to the awards.

One of the most vocal losers of the award has been Salman Rushdie, when he lost to J. M. Coetzee from South Africa/Australia, author of
Disgrace. Allegedly, Rushdie, who had attended the ceremonial dinner, pounded the table in a rage upon hearing the announcement, and declared to all present that Coetzee was a “shitty winner.” This outrageous show of bad sportsmanship and poor command of language was despite the fact that in 1981 Salman Rushdie won the prize for Midnight's Children.

The reality is that winning an award is a vindication of hard work and most who “lose” feel a sense of disappointment, no matter what a polite smile on their face may attempt to convey. Yet, anyone who is nominated for a prize and loses can count themselves amongst a gallery of time-honored individuals. Review of the distinguished writers of the last century who have been overlooked for the Nobel Prize for Literature include Marcel Proust, James Joyce, Leo Tolstoy and Federico Garcia Lorca. One can also readily turn to celebrated movies that have failed to win the "Oscar" for Best Picture of the Year to see great movies unrecognized by the members of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Here’s a short list of some of those films:
  • Citizen Kane
  • The Maltese Falcon
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • North by Northwest
  • Citizen Kane
  • Vertigo
  • Star Wars
  • Some Like It Hot
  • The Wizard of Oz
  • Philadelphia
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
Oddly enough, although he was nominated for five Best Director Oscars, enjoyed a career spanning 54 years, traversing 65 films, two continents and practically every technical revolution (silents, sound, color, 3D) and directed numerous movies now viewed as "classics", Alfred Hitchcock never won an award for Best Director in Oscar competition, although he was awarded the Irving Thalberg Memorial Award (for lifetime achievement) at the 1967 Oscars.

Ultimately, the evaluative process cannot be truly freed from ideological constraint. As humans, we have social agendas, personal biases, and cultural predilections and while we may try to consciously act impartially, these preferences will determine our concept of “excellence.”

My interest was engaged recently when it was announced at the Art Gallery of New South Wales that Melbourne artist Virginia Grayson is the winner of the 2008 Dobell Prize for Drawing for her work,
No conclusions drawn – self portrait. The Dobell is Australia’s most respected award for drawing

According to The Australian’s national arts writer, Corrie Perkin, “Speaking after the presentation at the Art Gallery of NSW, Grayson said she was shocked to win the award, named after one of the great figures in 20th-century Australian art, William Dobell.

"Recently I have decided I have to resist this desire to wipe out the work, to let it go, move onto another, and return to it later if the need is still there to do so.''

On September 5th, Louise Schwartzkoff, The Sydney Morning Herald, quoted Grayson as saying, "
Honestly, I don't feel like I've quite finished it," she said. "I always feel like there's something more to do. At one point near the end, I was ready to just erase myself and make it more abstract."

When I investigated further, I learned Grayson had also commented, "
I was becoming a bit too obsessive about it, and it just didn't seem to be working. . . . You want to keep a level of play and energy and looseness in the work, and I felt I was losing that. You feel like you're taking the virginity out of the paper if you muck around with it too much. For a minute, I thought about throwing it away."

How many times have other artists and writers experienced similar feelings of inadequacy and doubt? How often have artists and writers abandoned works of quality because of an inner voice that quelled the understanding that the work was “good enough” or ready to be seen by another? I suspect the answer to these questions is “far too often.”

Virginia Grayson, who has claimed that she drew a self portrait as she couldn’t afford a model and has spent the past few years working up the courage to submit her work for the first time to the Dobell Prize committee, should be a source of inspiration for us all. She should be commended, not just for the artistic recognition afforded by the Dobell, but for actively demonstrating how to slay the demons and ghosts of insecurity that haunt most artists and walking away victorious and untrammeled.

As many will attest, there is an intrinsic relationship between art and freedom. The art historian, André Malraux, examined the relationship between art, freedom and reality. For Malraux, the reality in question is not a vaguely defined ‘world in which we live’ nor a nebulous collective reality. All art, he argued, is essentially the individual’s response to a metaphysical reality. He believed the reality to which art responds is ‘the fundamental emotion man feels in the face of life, beginning with his own.’ He further elucidated that same emotion is our underlying and inherent sense of the arbitrariness and contingency of all things.

Gaining from Grayson's experience, and fully recognizing that we have arbitrarily created standards demanded of ourselves, we may start to learn how to confront our fears and empower ourselves, thereby effectively coping with negative emotions and becoming able to obtain greater inner and outer freedom. And maybe....just maybe.... great works of art won't find their way to the dust bin but will receive their due accolades.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

On Writing an Artist’s Statement

Under the Awning
Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida

While preparing a package for a national juried show, I was reminded that Jean Cocteau contended, "An artist cannot speak about his art any more than a plant can discuss horticulture." Despite this, I was required to include an “Artist’s Statement”.

When the esteemed Spanish Impressionist painter Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida, who excelled in the painting of portraits and seascapes, was asked by a journalist, " Maestro, you have had such a brilliant success with works on social themes, will you please tell me what you think about them?" Sorolla responded " My friend, I just paint pictures – other people do the explaining!"’

I can relate to this, as I personally believe that any and all art should speak for itself, allowing the viewer to respond authentically to the work without pre-conditioning due to having read or heard commentary by the artist. Even if one works in an abstract or expressionist style, rather than in an academic realism approach, the audience’s experience should be primary, not secondary, to the viewing of the work. Furthermore, people should be encouraged to trust their own experience of the moment, not discount it.

The concept of the artist’s statement is a relatively modern one born out of the manifestos written by the Italian Futurists in the early 1900’s. Futurism was an attempt to revitalize Italian culture by embracing the dynamic power of modern science and technology.

Umberto Boccioni adapted Filippo Marinetti’s ideas to the visual arts and became the leading theoretician of Futurist art. In 1910 he and Carlo Carra, Luigi Russolo, Giacomo Balla and Gino drafted and published several Futurist manifestos promoting the representation of the symbols of modern technology—violence, power, and speed.

They sought to free all artistic expression from the heavy religious atmosphere that controlled most art produced in Italy. The Futurists promoted art that related to the modern developments of their day - the automobile, the airplane, and mass communication. Perhaps one of their most arcane manifestos was the “The Painting of Sounds, Noises and Smells.” Their philosophies were clearly delineated in their manifestos and make interesting reading. Herewith follows the Technical Manifesto of Futurist Painting:

Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà, Luigi Russolo, Giacomo Balla, Gino Severini On the 18th of March, 1910, in the limelight of the Chiarella Theater of Turin, we launched our first manifesto to a public of three thousand people—artists, men of letters, students and others; it was a violent and cynical cry which displayed our sense of rebellion, our deep-rooted disgust, our haughty contempt for vulgarity, for academic and pedantic mediocrity, for the fanatical worship of all that is old and worm-eaten.

We bound ourselves there and then to the movement of Futurist Poetry which was initiated a year earlier by F. T. Marinetti in the columns of the Figaro.

The battle of Turin has remained legendary. We exchanged almost as many knocks as we did ideas, in order to protect from certain death the genius of Italian Art.

And now during a temporary pause in this formidable struggle we come out of the crowd in order to ex
pound with technical precision our program for the renovation of painting, of which Futurist Salon at Milan was a dazzling manifestation.

Our growing need of truth is no longer satisfied with Form and Color as they have been understood hitherto.
The gesture which we would reproduce on canvas shall no longer be a fixed moment in universal dynamism. It shall simply be the dynamic sensation itself.

Indeed, all things move, all things run, all things are rapidly changing. A profile is never motionless before our eyes, but it constantly appears and disappears. On account of the persistency of an image upon the retina, moving objects constantly multiply themselves; their form changes like rapid vibrations, in their mad career. Thus a running horse has not four legs, but twenty, and their movements are triangular.

All is conventional in art. Nothing is absolute in painting. What was truth for the painters of yesterday is but a falsehood today. We declare, for instance, that a portrait must not be like the sitter, and that the painter carries in himself the landscapes which he would fix upon his canvas.

To paint a human figure you must not paint it; you must render the whole of its surrounding atmosphere.

Space no longer exists: the street pavement, soaked by rain beneath the glare of electric lamps, becomes immensely deep and gapes to the very center of the earth. Thousands of miles divide us from the sun; yet the house in front of us fits into the solar disk.

Who can still believe in the opacity of bodies, since our sharpened and multiplied sensitiveness has already penetrated the obscure manifestations of the medium? Why should we forget in our creations the doubled power of our sight, capable of giving results analogous to those of the X-rays?

It will be sufficient to cite a few examples, chosen amongst thousands, to prove the truth of our arguments.

The sixteen people around you in a rolling motor bus are in turn and at the same time one, ten, four, three; they are motionless and they change places; they come and go, bound into the street, are suddenly swallowed up by the sunshine, then come back and sit before you, like persistent symbols of universal vibration.

How often have we not seen upon the cheek of the person with whom we are talking the horse which passes at the end of the street.

Our bodies penetrate the sofas u
pon which we sit, and the sofas penetrate our bodies. The motor bus rushes into the houses which it passes, and in their turn the houses throw themselves upon the motor bus and are blended with it.

The construction of pictures has hitherto been foolishly traditional. Painters have shown us the objects and the people placed before us. We shall henceforward put the spectator in the center of the picture.

As in every realm of the human mind, clear-sighted individual research has swept away the unchanging obscurities of dogma, so must the vivifying current of science soon deliver painting from academism.

We would at any price re-enter into life. Victorious science has nowadays disowned its past in order the better to serve the material needs of our time; we would that art, disowning its past, were able to serve at last the intellectual needs which are within us.

Our renovated consciousness does not permit us to look upon man as the center of universal life. The suffering of a man is of the same interest to us as the suffering of an electric lamp, which, with spasmodic starts, shrieks out the most heartrending expressions of color. The harmony of the lines and folds of modern dress works upon our sensitiveness with
the same emotional and symbolical power as did the nude upon the sensitiveness of the old masters.

In order to conceive and understand the novel beauties of a Futurist picture, the soul must be purified; the eye must be freed from its veil of atavism and culture, so that it may at last look upon Nature and not upon the museum as the one and only standard.

As soon as ever this result has been obtained, it will be readily admitted that brown tints have never coursed beneath our skin; it will be discovered that yellow shines forth in our flesh, that red blazes, and that green, blue and violet dance upon it with untold charms, voluptuous and caressing.

How is it possible still to see the human face pink, now that our life, redoubled by noctambulism, has multiplied our perceptions as colorists? The human face is yellow, red, green, blue, violet. The pallor of a woman gazing in a jeweler’s window is more intensely iridescent than the prismatic fires of the jewels that fascinate her like a lark.

The time has passed for our sensations in painting to be whispered. We wish them in future to sing and re-echo upon our canvases in deafening and triumphant flourishes.

Your eyes, accustomed to semi-darkness, will soon open to more radiant visions of light. The shadows which we shall paint shall be more luminous than the high-lights of our predecessors, and our pictures, next to those of the museums, will shine like blinding daylight compared with deepest night.

We conclude that painting cannot exist today withc without Divisionism. This is no process that can be learned and applied at will. Divisionism, for the modern painter, must be an innate complementariness which we declare to be essential and necessary.

Our art will probably be accused of tormented and decadent cerebralism. But we shall merely answer that we are, on the contrary, the primitives of a new sensitiveness, multiplied hundredfold, and that our art is intoxicated with spontaneity and power.

We declare:

1. That all forms of imitation must be despised, all forms of originality glorified.

2. That it is essential to rebel against the tyranny of the terms “harmony” and “g
ood taste” as being too elastic expressions, by the help of which it is easy to demolish the works of Rembrandt, of Goya and of Rodin.

3. That the art critics are useless or harmful.

4. That all subjects previously used must be swept aside in order to express our whirling life of steel, of pride, of fever and of speed.

5. That the name of “madman” with which it is attempted to gag all innovators should be looked upon as a title of honor.

6. That innate complementariness is an absolute necessity in painting, just as free meter in poetry or polyphony in music.

7. That universal dynamism must be rendered in painting as a dynamic sensation.

8. That in the manner of rendering Nature the first essential is sincerity and purity.

9. That movement and light destroy the materiality of bodies.

We fight:

1. Against the bituminous tints by which it is attempted to obtain the patina of time upon modern pictures.

2. Against the superficial and elementary archaism founded upon flat tints, a
nd which, by imitating the linear technique of the Egyptians, reduces painting to a powerless synthesis, both childish and grotesque.

3. Against the false claims to belong to the future put forward by the secessionists and the independents, who have installed new academies no less trite and attached to routine than the preceding ones.

4. Against the nude in painting, as nauseous and as tedious as adultery in literature.

We wish to explain this last point. Nothing is immoral in our eyes; it is the monotony of the nude against which we fight. We are told that the subject is nothing and that everything lies in the manner of treating it. That is agreed; we too, admit that. But this truism, unimpeachable and absolute fifty years ago, is no longer so today with regard to the nude, since artists obsessed with the desire to expose the bodies of their mistresses have transformed the Salons into arrays of unwholesome flesh!

We demand, for ten years, the total suppression of the nude in painting.

…..And to think from this manifesto we’ve moved into modern “Artspeak” and opaque jargon in copious artist’s statements!

It is interesting to note that the reality of war dampened, if not killed the Futurisitic movement by 1918. Ironically, one of the shining stars of the movement, Carlo Carrà, subsequently become a metaphysical painter, quite possibly due to his disenchantment with Italy's entry into World War I in 1915. He abandoned the concepts embraced by Futurism in lieu of inspiration from the works of Giotto and Uccello, and by the Modernist, Le Douanier (Henri) Rousseau. It is yet more interesting that Carrà didn’t write another manifesto, he simply painted.

I wish that artists would start to refuse the requests to provide artist’s statements and force the viewers to arrive at their own understanding of the work. But, alas, this will not happen. Failing that, my suggestion is for artists to consider the implicit words of Voltaire, "The secret of being a bore is to tell everything."

Capanni sul mare
by Carlo Carrà