Thursday, July 30, 2009

myron stout on josef albers...

josef albers hommage to the square

myron stout 1950

"... i suppose albers came to his purism out of de stijl and kandinsky, and with the strong touch of 19th century scientific idealism which brought such a strong pragmatic note to the bauhaus - together, of course, with the german mystical-metaphysical idealism.

the earlier purists were so much more the poets and the mystics in their work than any now practicing and these are the very qualities which gave their work more validity (together, of course, with greater artistry) than that of the ones now practicing. i include albers, of course, with the earlier ones, though i can not feel him the artist that mondrian was, of course. he certainly does have the transcendental ideal, though, and he not only does not lose it with increasing age, but seems to strengthen and clarify it. his work always gives me pause, because the scientifically "measured" quality always stops me (at least momentarily - and sometimes blocks me) on the way "through" his work to what he has to say or present. on the other hand i always come again and again to a great admiration for the consistent and truly integrally held vision which impels him and is, on the whole, revealed in his work. that he can hold it is very remarkable, for it's almost as though he were a man out of his time - he should have lived a generation earlier when the materialism and lack of faith and conviction of today would not have been there to beat on him and his audience. the solitariness of his powerful idealism would have been easier to bear, so to speak, had he come to full flower in 1900 or 1910 instead of now. i think possibly he has not been able to reconcile his ideals with the world he finds himself in - his work is not embracingly "telling" enough. but he still holds to the basic - to the fundamental of what he knows will give expression to what he means."

april 28, 1960

top: josef albers hommage to the square
bottom: myron stout, 1950

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Blogger ArtSparker said...

This conclusion is strange to me - and certainly I lack art historical knowledge in depth - but my impression was that after the renaissance, it became pretty typical for artists to work against the grain of society.

7:56 AM  
Blogger sroden said...

i think what he's talking about is how much the artworld and the world in general (particularly in america) became concerned with materialism and advertising and for the most part had begun to let go of modernist ideals - we can certainly see folks like warhol and rosenquest going against the grain of society on one hand (many non art folks probably hated their work), but these guys became celebrities and embraced popular culture and approached being an artist outside of "the solitariness of powerful idealism" in terms of the kind of against the grain i think you are speaking about. he also means, i think, that artwork at that time was really beginning to "say it all", and the conversation was mostly public, while stout's ideal in albers is about the kind of private dialogue that can go on between an artist and an artwork that is not only outside of the concerns of society, but also the culture of the artworld - which many artists since the 60's have embraced. i think alber's insistence that the work speak for itself even if it whispers or perhaps is even silent upon first viewings. this was the moment artists were being covered in life magazine, on television shows, etc. it was the beginning of the artist celebrity - not as in the case of someone like picasso, but in terms of artists in general. stout's own work was cryptic and difficult to enter at times, particularly in terms of where he went during the later part of his life. he's clearly talking about his own isolation and looking at albers, but thinking also very much about himself.

5:44 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I've only just discovered Myron Stout. Thank you for this post... endlessly beautiful

1:07 PM  

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