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.

Andrew Broadey constellation Lecture.

Lecture on Neo-plasticism and non-objective art by Andrew Broadey.


–        The term non-objective art emerged within a range of discussions around Europe in the postwar period, but can be rooted in the pre-war Orphist abstractions of Robert Delaunay, which were purely dependent on colour contrasts and harmonies. These pan European tendencies sought to locate, and convey the ordering principles that structured natural phenomena, such as the laws of geometry. The core intention that shaped the deployment of the term non-objective during this period was for the artwork to transform itself into “an absolute entity with no relation to objects in the visible world, and that it should be composed of completely abstract forms whose origins were in the mind”. Thus whilst some artists were idealist others were materialist in orientation.  Bois continues, “This tension between idealist and materialist imperatives runs throughout modernist abstraction, and it is not solved by related terms such as “non-objective”, and “pure”. Abstraction approaches the non-objective by definition; on the other hand many artists sought “objectivity” above all – to make an art as “concrete” and “real” as an object in the world”. Artist’s such as Mondrian and Malevich sought to promote abstraction as “pure”, a pictorial manifestation of ideals, whilst for others such as Tatlin fidelity to materials led the process of his works development.

–        Despite these contrasting objectives each of these tendencies shared a common root in Cubism, which shattered the assumption that pictures referred directly to physical reality, emphasising instead the structures of meaning that made them comprehensible. David Henry Karnweiller notes, “ The products of the arts are signs, emblems for the external world, not mirrors reflecting the external world”.[1]

–        Malovich’s utilisation of collage and configuration of disparate pictorial elements demonstrates the influence of synthetic cubism, which explored the diverse modes of depiction through which various scenarios might be rendered comprehensible.

–        From this Malevich went on to develop Suprematism, which radically reduced the practice of painting down to its base constituents, affording colour a new “supremacy in art”.

–        Hepworth’s sculptures developed from a figurative origin, and whilst they became rigorously abstract, seeking “some absolute essence in sculptural terms”, the artist felt that this essence “had to convey the quality of human relationships”.

–        Yet Hepworth’s work was always determined by the sculptural potential of the natural materials she used, and the values drawn from nature that she sought to express.

–        The manner in which Cubism re-conceptualised pictorial representation, and fragmented pictorial space provided another avenue of developments for another group of artists and designers working in Holland, called De Stijl, whose radically abstract works sought to symbolise a primary or universal order that they felt underpinned material reality. To manifest this order artists and designers affiliated with De Stijl tookit upon themselves to develop new plastic modes by which to convey this order.

–        Cubism straddled the paradox of appearing simultaneously to be abstract and representational. Mondrian felt that the discovery made by the cubists concerned the freeing of formal or “plastic” elements from a representational function.

–        Mondrian’s use of the term “plastic” translates from the Dutch beelden meaning to form, to shape. Here Mondrian uses it to characterise a concern with or emphasis upon form.

–        Mondrians style developed into neo plasticise. Mondrian’s aim here was to symbolise the balance and order that he recognised in nature, but emphasise a dynamic process of development, generated by the opposing forces within it. Golding notes “spatial tensions are what gives Mondrian’s art that sense of dynamic tautness that he was now coming to seek. Having achieved it he can hold the spectator’s eye in thrall almost indefinitely. He was coming increasingly to believe that equilibrium could exist within dissonance.

–        Differences between these practices that seem at a glance to be insignificant, can make them perform in ways that contrast entirely. To illustrate this point we might consider how Strzeminski and Malevich treated the surfaces of their paintings. One conjured flat planes floating in an indeterminate pictorial space, whilst the other made the motifs within his work’s refer the viewer back directly to the shape of the pictorial support, and the physical unitary nature of the painting.



constellation notes- Surrealism. By Andrew Broadey

in the first two decades of the twentieth century in search for a means of self expression people would affiliate themselves with Die Brucke and blau reiter, a group that looked at primitive art. During this time the works of Nietzsche popularised. Nietzsche understand modern man to be possessed of intellectual power and moral awareness, but considered these to be subservient to his psychological drives. Overcoming this state depended, Nietzsche felt, upon re-connecting with these primal drives.  Nietzsche argues that the mastery of nature that man has gained through his rational mind has disconnected him from the world he seeks to dominate. Instead of the cool abstractions that he considers man to have produced through his conceptualisation of the world, Nietzsche believed that art could help man to rediscover the heat and intensity of his primal connection with the world. Sigmund Freud drew similar emphasis to “the primitive” in the development of his theory of Psychoanalysis, and his ideas of the unconscious, entered popular awareness in the first decades of the twentieth century. Freud considered that the human psyche is a dynamic structure shaped by opposing forces. The id is made up of instinctual, and unconscious drives, and the super-ego is the individual’s conscience, produced through the internalisation of societal norms, and morality. The ego or conscious mind integrates the drives of the id and the prohibitions of the super-ego, and neurosis are the outcome of a clash between these dynamically opposed aspects of the human mind. Freud felt that dream thoughts play an important role in working through tensions within the psyche, allowing for the “condensation and displacement of pictorial material”.Displacement is the process whereby excessive psychic tension based in one thought is literally displaced into another. The process of condensation is the embedding of the associations created by the displacement. Freud also considered that the dream work has the character of a “regression”. Indeed, the associations created in dreams provided a visual language that was drawn upon by many different artists in the 1920s and 1940s.  This process began   in the second decade of the 20th century when artists such as Max Ernst and Paul Klee shifted their focus onto the art of children and the mentally ill. Surrealism can be thought of both as a broad philosophical sense, as an enthusiasm for the world of dreams, and fantasies irrationality, and inspiration that values free-play, and imagination over convention, rules, and the imposition of social order. Surrealism can be thought of both as a broad philosophical sense, as an enthusiasm for the world of dreams, and fantasies irrationality, and inspiration that values free-play, and imagination over convention, rules, and the imposition of social order. Another Spanish artist Salvador Dali was heavily influenced by de Chirico’s landscapes. He settled in Paris in 1928, and he set about scandalising Parisian sensibilities. He produced film collaborations with Luis Bunel, such as Un Chien Andalou (1929), and L’Age d’or. (1930). These featured images of mutilation, and putrification.  In summary the popularisation of Freud’s notions of the unconscious had a profound effect on the work of artists in the 1920s and 1930s.  These developments centred around the Surrealist movement, which grew out of Paris Dada, but eventually broke with this group in order to bring about focused social transformation by releasing repressed and undisclosed thought and desire.



Constructivism and Suprametism – Lecture by Andrew Broadey

Both Constructivism and Suprametism were informed by Western European art movements, such as Futurism, and Dadaism. Both also owe a technical debt to  Cubism. The task in Russia for Lenin and the Bolsheviks was to build society anew, and thus the figure of the engineer or constructor, developed as the dominant metaphor for the Russian vangard artist.Consequentially, artists of the Russian avant-garde stressed collectivity over individual production, and a utilisation of the methodologies of modernist art as a means of re-imagining applied arts such as architecture, graphic design, fashion, and developing new approaches to photography and film.

Works such as Warrior of the First Division (1914) were informed by Synthetic Cubism, and affixed whole objects onto the picture surface, serving both as part of the pictorial structure of the work and as a literal presence upon the picture plane. It was these planes that provided Malevich with means of realising how he might radically reduce painting down to its core, or as he put it discover “the zero of painting”.  Tatlin sought a “truth to materials”. For him machined wood suggested rectilinear forms, metals could be curved and bent, so suggested curvilinear forms, and the transparency of glass mediated between interior and exterior. Like Malevich, Tatlin drew these methods from an engagement with the language experiments of Kruchenikh and Klebnikov, whose play Zangezi Tatlin designed in 1923. Malevich’s development of Suprematism, and Tatlin’s development of Constructivism were both brought together at 0.10: The Last Futurist Exhibition in Petrograd in 1915. As the title suggests works in the exhibition each sought in their contrasting ways to demonstrate their own distinct pursuit of art’s furthest points of reduction.

Both wings of the pre-revolutionary avant-garde scaled down their emphasis on inspired creation, and individual encounter, yet it was Constructivism with its connotations of building and engineering that was most successful. However Malevich often evokes the confining of our perception of space by the Earth’s horizon. Thus to reach cosmic integration we must break free – and this involves not only replacing the forms of nature with completely abstract  forms in art, but also venturing into a new space continuum, which extends beyond the circumscribed horizon.

Andrew Broadey

Constructing movements within art. DADAists

Constellation. The DaDaist manifestation. A lecture by Andrew Broadey

Dada was a movement of negation, formed by disparate groupings of young artists who were appalled by the violence of WW1, which they viewed as a symptom of the wider failure of the modernising tendencies that had brought it about. Dadaists attacked convention, normality, and rationality, which they understood to be linked with control, manipulation and domination. Dadaists subverted traditional media such as painting, sculpture, and photography, whilst they also initiated new modes of performance, which brought their work into spaces of social interaction. Zurich was neutral during the WW, this is where Hugo Ball and Triatan Tzara founded the Cabaret Voltaire. The cabaret ran nightly on a small stage in the back room of a bar and featured poetry recitals, dances, readings of the Dadaist texts, plays, and songs presented by Hennings. In 1852 Karl Marx issued the following claim. “Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like an nightmare on the brains of the living.”

Jean Arp

–         These convictions were also shared by Hans Arp. “Revolted by the butchery of the 1914 World War, we in Zurich devoted ourselves to the arts. We are seeking an art based on fundamentals to cure the madness of the age, and a new order of things […] We had a dim premonition that power-mad gangsters would one day use art itself as a way of deadening men’s minds”.  Arp experimented with accident and automatism. He tore up paper and dropped the fragments onto another sheet affixing them where they fell, Arp sought to produce works where the laws of chance might become tangible. He felt chance to be the fundamental basis of all rules as it “embraces all laws and is unfathomable like the first cause from which all life arises.

Tzara Dadaist manifesto.

By setting forth a series of contradictions the text dismantles established procedures of sense making. “I write this manifesto to show that people can perform contrary actions together while taking a fresh gulp of air; I am against this action; for continuous contradiction, for affirmation too, I am neither for nor against, and I do not explain because I hate common sense. Within this procedure of rejection lays the seeds of Dada as anti-art (art that challenges the existing accepted definitions of art). Like Tzara Duchamp sought to question accepted conventions of artistic appreciation, and he nominated objects as readymade’s because of the “visual indifference” they engendered. Instead of art’s existing pre-occupation with visual pleasure, or as Duchamp says the ‘purely retinal’, Duchamp titled his works in ways that complicated our cognitive relations to the objects. Picabia produced drawings such as Portrait of a Young American Girl in a State of Nudity (1915), which like Duchamp’s readymades presented the viewer with a disjuncture between title and motif which poetically drew out the message that modern life was making people like machines.

Dadaists in Berlin were highly aware of the rise of the mass media and in particular photo-journalism. Montage and collage became strategic modes of intervention within the German social life. Burger believed that Dada practices were formulated in recognition to the role that art played in society at this time.

Burger identified Dada with a radical questioning of art’s status in society, and a refusal to play along with the role that had been pre-determined for them as artists. Their works were a rejection of these institutional conventions, fulfilling what Tzara referred to as the need of “accomplishing a great negative work.

Andrew Broadey

Notes on Futurism- By Andrew Broadey

The movement was generated in the fervour of rapid social modernisation at the turn of the century and took its cue from the transformations surrounding it. The motor car, telephone, the aeroplane,, and Edward Muybridge’s stage by stage photographic capture of movement all fuelled the engine of Futurism. The Futurists drew upon these aspects of city life and sought to intensify them through their work. Gripped by tensions between the industrially powerful north of the country and the largely agrarian south. Anarchists, Socialists and Nationalists, cajoled the government to pursue radical approaches to the country’s modernisation, including war and increased social integration, generating conditions that were conducive to the eruption of a politically motivated avant-garde such as Futurism.

Marinetti heralded dynamism and simultaneity of modern experience, and he promoted modes of Futurist art that functioned as analogies for such modes of experience, rather than representations of it. City life became both the subject and context of Futurist art. The movements name, initiated by Marinetti, suggests not only that the movement was concerned with producing the art of the future, but also that it is concerned with a forward movement – a concern with the hereafter. The Futurists also sought to create direct incisions within public life on the street. 

Balla’s Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash The impact that Boccioni sought to create through such paintings can be seen as consistent with the capturing of sensations of movement in works such as Balla’s Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash. 

Boccioni sought to create a new conception of sculpture as “a translation […] of atmospheric planes that link and intersect things’, and because ‘objects never end’, the sculptors aim was to ‘model the atmosphere that surrounds things’. This created sculptures that captured the dynamism of an observer’s perceptions of the sensations of movements. Thus Bocionni was not seeking to create a representation of the world but create an analogy of it, that served as an intensification of it. This re-orientation of art is captured in a metaphor developed in Marinetti’s Destruction of Syntax manifesto.  “Lyricism (art) is the exquisite faculty of intoxicating oneself with life, or with filling life with the inebriation of oneself. The faculty of changing into wine the muddy water of life that swirls and engulfs us”. Thus for Marinetti to make art one first become inebriated by life and then bring this drunkenness to bear upon life itself. In this process neither art nor life remain static categories, allowing the Futurists to fulfil their aim of transforming everything. Thus we can see Boccioni’s sculpture as an attempt first to engage in the flux of bodily movements and then through his sculptural practice intensify them.

By Andrew Broadey