gall and gumption

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

buckner: More on Modern/PoMo

In relation to Harold Rosenberg’s The Old Age of Modernism I found this in Van Gogh’s letters to Theo:
I can hardly say that I share your thoughts which you express in the following words: “To me it seems quite natural that the desired change will occur.” Just think how many great men are dead or will not be with us for long—Millet, Brion, Troyon, Rousseau, Daubigny, Corot—so many others are no longer among the living; think further back, Leys, Gavarni, de Groux (I name only a few), still further back, Ingres, Delacroix, Géricault, think how old modern art already is, add many others who have already reached old age.

Van Gogh wrote this letter in November 1881.

This is from a book review of The Nancy Book, by Joe Brainard in the Nov. 3 New Yorker:
The guileless heroine of Ernie Bushmiller’s long-running comic strip “Nancy” is an unlikely icon in contemporary art, recurring in work by postmodern cartoonists like Bill Griffith…

Zippy the Pinhead is postmodern?

On a different subject, here is another interesting thing from Van Gogh’s letters:
The sooner one tries to master a certain profession and a certain handicraft and adopt a fairly independent way of thinking and acting, and the more one keeps to strict rules, the firmer the character one will acquire, and for all that one need not become narrow-minded.

It is wise to do so, for life is but short, and time passes quickly; if one is master of one thing and understands one thing well, one has at the same time insight into and understanding of many things into the bargain.

And here is Marvin Mudrick from Mudrick Transcribed:
If you learn how to know something, if you work hard in a particular area and seriously, you will learn what it is like to know. And once you know what it’s like to know, you will never mistake partial knowledge or ignorance for knowledge. And then you’re in a position to learn anything you want.

Mudrick had recently read and written about Van Gogh’s letters.


At 10:51 PM, Blogger Kia said...

Which edition of the van Gogh letters are you quoting from? I used to have the one-volume version edited by Auden, but I think I lost it on my travels and now you're getting me all curious about them again.

Oh, the other painter who writes as if he knows what it is to know what he's doing is Delacroix.

Van Gogh is talking about authority, which MM used to distinguish from power: mastery, independent thinking, strict rules, i.e., principles, routines, habits (Fellini would have agreed with this 100 percent). And then yeah, at least in relation to your art or profession you know who you are.

At 8:45 AM, Blogger buckner said...

My Van Gogh is the one volume edition edited by Mark Roskill. I didn’t know Auden did a translation. The quote about mastering a profession was written in 1878, when Van Gogh was 25—a few years before he seriously took up painting.

My students will be reading Delacroix’s journal next.


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