Second year Constellation- dissertation ideas

After the series of lectures by Andrew Broadey I decided that I wanted to focus on the relationship between art and life. I specifically found the phenomenology of Autonomous and Heteronomous art fascinating, and the way that art can essentially be both, you can have a personal reaction to any art however you cannot control the effect it will have on society. Despite this I am very much keen to write about the motives and the art of Paul Cezanne, my practice is currently very heavily based around the ‘master of Aix’s’ paintings. However I feel this is rather fitting as many critics have commented on Cezanne’s ideals of making nature and art the same. He did not believe one should exist without the other. Cezanne’s ideas were revolutionary and he has been described as one of the most influential figures of the 20th century within the art world, catalysing the movement of Cubism. I don’t think it can be denied that the artist has directly influenced societies means of thinking through his means of bringing his work into realisation. My intention is to justify how his work has changed our perception of reality/ conveying reality.

I will investigate into how scientific developments and modern day research has altered our critical understanding of the painter Paul Cezanne and his works, with regards to the phenomenology of perspective. In order to fully understand the artists methodology I will be comparing the conflicting viewpoints of critics over the past decades, specifically when dealing with perspective and  attempt to recognise the catalyst for this change in critical interpretation. I will be comparing the writings of Emile Bernard, Maurice Marleau-Ponty, Robert Pepperell and even some letters from Cezanne himself I will investigate what are the reasons behind the change of interpretation in the artist’s conveying of visual perspective and space. I also intend to question whether or not the progression in the scientific understanding of the way in which our retina receives and interprets visual imagery can completely alter our critical reception of the artists paintings. will this also allow us to gain some perspective as to how successful was Cezanne in achieving the truth in visual experience. Hopefully the visual analysis of his paintings will also aid me in achieving my conclusion.

I will hopefully achieve my answer by firstly exploring cezanne’s intentions through the interpretations of his contemporaries. I will consider critics; such as Emile Bernard’s understanding of Cezanne’s techniques and aims on an aesthetical and conceptual level, questioning what was the explanation of Cezanne’s juxtaposing viewpoints. I then Intend to examine the phenomenology of Maurice Marleau-Ponty and its significance with the art of Cezanne. Exploring his interpretations of Cezanne’s contemporary critics and his own ideas of Cezanne’s handling with the phenomenology of perspective.I also aim to investigate into contemporary critical readings based on the phenomenology of ‘lived perspective’. My final objective is to connect the scientific developments of our retina onto our understanding of Cezanne and uncover how close to realizing visual truth was the artist.




Second year Constellation

I chose ‘Critical practices’ with Andrew Broadey for I believe art and life should come hand in hand, whether or not it is considered Autonomous or Heteronomous art it will always have an impact on our politics and our society, one will always influence the other regardless of there being any intention of this. I am interested in the means of conveying this phenomenon and I also have a developing interest in the role of art within politics.

We are living in an era where practitioners are contesting arts relationship to society. I was excited to study the works of artists that sought to change the institutional separation of art and life. Hopefully to gain a different perspective as to whether or not this was possible.


Notes from Andrew Broadey lecture

Andrew Broadey’s lecture on Autonomous and Heteronomous art.

  • autonomous art is art that seeks independence from practical life. It is most commonly associated with notions of modernism. As Frascina notes it is art ‘concerned with its own specialised laws, issues and competencies’, In contrast intervention within and political commentary upon contexts of practical life are core values of Heteronomous art, which seeks to break out from of artistic production and reception, Heteronomous art might be associated with impact, activity, dynamism, scandal, outrage and above all rejection. Autonomous is art that is independent from society and political agenda and participates in individual reception whereas heteronomous art is completely dependent on society and has a direct impact on day to day life.
  • Greenberg claimed that in avant-gardism ‘Western bourgeois society had produced something unheard of heretofore’. As part of its process of specialisation, Greenberg argued, avant-garde art had succeeded in ‘detaching itself from society’, Greenberg identified this process with abstraction grounded in medium specificity. ‘In turning his attention away from subject matter of common experience’ abstract painting and action painting are considered modes of creating autonomous art.
  • Rosenberg’s article begins with an analysis of how the emergence of a distinctly American vanguard took a critical stance towards formalist tendencies within pre-war European modernism (Cezanne) in order to focus upon expression. ‘The apples were not swept off the table in order to make room for perfect relations of space and colour. They had to go so that nothing could get in the way of the act of painting.’ According to Rosenberg’s theorisation, the act of painting was harnessed not only as a form of self-expression, but more accurately, as a form of self-questioning, a site where such received identities were interrogated and over-turned in search of hitherto unrealised forms self-understanding.
  • Heteronomous art
  • In 1930 a revolutionary potential had been outflanked in two ways by the mix of capitalism and liberal democracy that dominated the west. –the allure of consumerism generated by advanced commodity production appeared as a much more attractive option.If we look at warhos 100 cambell soup cans, Warhol has chosen a mass produced commodity as his subject. And repeated the image of the same commodity in grid format. One could argue that Warhol is suggesting the mass process through which the object came to be. However they have been hand painted. The work adjusts itself to the commodity driven culture (heteronomy) but it is done through a medium that orientates around individuality in production and reception (painting) this is autonomous. Burger believes the painting contains resistance to commodity, society only for the person who wants to see It there. A manifestation void of sense and permits the posting of any meaning whatsoever. The image is an outcome of the artists own meditations on the wall the painting exists as a record of these movements and gestures which now occupy a public space.
  • Adornos argument is that the value of such practices lies in refusal to picture. And the works rejection of tradition. Even in Warhols early commercial work a proximity to pollocks practice is already evident. In advertisement made by Warhol 1956 an index of human presence appears in a footprint drawing on concerns of advanced artistic production into the service of shoe advertising. Burger fails to accommodate changing circumstances to which post-war American artists reacted strategies of resistance as opposed to the modes of transgression Burger insists upon.
  • Pollock worked with his canvas stretched out on the floor. Progressively marking it to create a dense web of composition for Rosenburg the absence of picture allows the painting to stand purely as a record of the artists own decisions before the canvas.
  • However if we consider Adornos critique on the 19th century poet Charles Baudelaire ‘it is only by assimilating it’s imagery to the autonomy of his poetry that Baudelaire reaches beyond Heteronous market. This could be used to argue that by reverting to advertisement of the basic foods Warhol refuses to comment beyond what is In lack/subsistence an absolute commodity . Negative statement however the works negativity might make something recognisable that would have been unseen.
  • This creates conflict between the manual and the mechanic, for Berger this collapses avant garde transgression,
  • Anti-communist sentiment became a key driver within America at this point. Implied in the narrative of films like 1956’s ‘invasion of the body snatchers’ an alien invasion in a town where they simulate physical characteristics, memories, personalities yet devoid of emotion…they think on mass. 1950s American culture, individuals and consumerism became synonymous. Dynamic that was also reproduced at the level of artistic reception within galleries.
  • Duchamp’s urinal. The intrusion of this mass produced item into such an exhibitionary context caused embarrassment for the committee charged with rationalising why it was not art. The work was compromised as a critical gesture orientated towards the institutional separation between art and life.