Get Art as music, music as poetry, poetry as art, from Whistler PDF

By Peter Dayan

In 1877, Ruskin accused Whistler of 'flinging a pot of paint within the public's face'. was once he correct? in spite of everything, Whistler regularly denied that the genuine functionality of paintings was once to symbolize something. If a portray doesn't signify, what's it, except mere paint, flung within the public's face? Whistler's resolution used to be uncomplicated: portray is tune - or it's poetry. Georges Braque, part a century later, echoed Whistler's solution. So did Braque's associates Apollinaire and Ponge. They provided their poetry as track, too - and as portray. yet in the meantime, composers similar to Satie and Stravinsky have been featuring their very own paintings - tune - as though it transposed the values of portray or of poetry. the basic precept of this intermedial aesthetic, which sure jointly a unprecedented fraternity of artists in all media in Paris, from 1885 to 1945, used to be this: we should always take into consideration the worth of a piece of paintings, no longer in the common sense of its personal medium, yet as though it transposed the worth of artwork in one other medium. Peter Dayan strains the background of this precept: the way it created our very suggestion of 'great art', why it declined as a imaginative and prescient from the Sixties, and the way, within the twenty first century, it truly is scuffling with again

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26 Whistler’s Poetry 27 painted on a canvas: that single F sharp, which represents not music, but the base sharp fool and his love of money. Of course, this does not mean that Whistler had come to despise Schubert. Rather, it symbolizes the fact that as music approaches the playable, the legible, or the audible, it ceases to represent that harmony which art must be. These are, to my knowledge, the only oil paintings by Whistler that show musical instruments with the people who might be playing them.

Most obviously, Mallarmé, who was Whistler’s aesthetic soulmate from 1888 to 1898, also knew Debussy, whom Satie admired and visited regularly from 1892 (Satie used to have lunch with him once a week and always remembered the occasions fondly). But there is no reference to Whistler in Satie’s published work or correspondence, and no reference to Satie in Whistler’s. I will be suggesting that their opinions concerning the status of truth in art, the relationship between the arts, the role of the critic and the possibility of art education are exactly the same; but that does not imply any direct influence between them.

The italics are Boughton’s. Throughout this book, all italics in quotations are original; emphasis in bold is mine. 8 Ruskin’s emphasis, here, on the fact that his opinion dates from thirty years previously is not incidental. Throughout this memorandum and beyond, he clearly states an opposition, which is to my mind entirely correct, between his aesthetics, rooted in the first half of the 19th century, and those of what he calls ‘the modern schools’ (291), which, it seems to me, did indeed only become a serious influence on European painters after 1850.

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