COMMENTARY: The Integrity of Art

alternative evolution

Richard Bledsoe “Alternative Evolution”

The Sublime and the Divine

A piece on why the achievements of Modernism fall short of the works of the Masters. Key quote: “Yet the achievements of a Michelangelo — those that have survived — simply dwarf those of the Bacons, Freuds and the rest, in spite of all the resources of modernity. What changed? Was it, in Max Weber’s phrase, the ‘disenchantment’ of the world? Last month the New York Review of Books carried a previously unpublished talk by T.S. Eliot to a Cambridge literary society in 1924. In it, he defined modernity as ‘the movement which accepted the divorce of human and divine, denied the divine, and asserted the perfection of the human to be the divine’.”

Humanity is not perfectible. All efforts to defy our natures through our own efforts lead to division, fragmentation, conflict and failure. Modernity was an accurate representation of the spirit of its age, of the schisms that develop inside and outside of people when we make ourselves the center of the universe. Modern art documented the frantic casting about for a solution, trying out this theory, that theory, this aesthetic, that approach, but all such efforts are doomed. “These fragments I have shored against my ruins,” Eliot wrote, but the ruin will always break through in the end.

What the Masters had was a sense of integrity the Modern world rejected-integrity in the sense of wholeness, a sound condition. This is the spirit of Remodernism. We can learn from and use all the discord and ruptures of the last century and put the pieces back together. The Modern experiment failed. It did not bring perfection into the world by using human intellect, a feeble and limited tool under the best of circumstances. What is called for is a new mode of understanding, which is actually a very old mode of understanding. Enduring wisdom is greater than the equivocations of rationality.


8 thoughts on “COMMENTARY: The Integrity of Art

  1. The evolution painting is cool and charming. From my perspective, and tastes, I don’t get how anyone can dump on Freud. Bacon, well, I understand why people don’t understand him, but Freud was such a virtuoso, and incredibly hard worker. Check out this video if you have a chance:

    If Bacon and Freud can’t cut the mustard, I might as well through in the towel right now.

  2. Thank you for this post. Often, I am left feeling empty or disinterested looking at modern art. My inspiration comes from medieval art and folk art. It speaks to my “soul”, a word not used as much as it used to be.

  3. Soul is the key to great art, that which can’t be reduced to words. It is true the establishment art world advances lots of soulless art-but it’s people who work from inner need who keep art alive. Keep up the good work!

  4. Thank you for this post, Richard. Your statements really well sum how and why we have seen such a de-evolution in art. (Sadly, we have also seemed to have lost so many of the technical skills that artists once had. How many artists today have anything like the skills of the masters of the past) I think about these questions, such as, is art of the late 20th c./21st c so lacking because we have no beliefs, no faith in the divine, the sublime, nothing to aspire to, and instead devolve into the lowest common denominator (think of media). Without belief in some paradigm higher (the only higher paradigm for many people is now nature, because they have replaced religion with the noble savage concept, and nature. So thus we have more than ever beautiful landscape photography in this era, but almost nothing else beautiful.) We can understand the point and meaning of the works from the early 20th century such as German Expressionism which were an expression against World War II, and so on. I’m still learning more about the 20th century to understand the movements but overall, it seems devoid of soul. The best example of that is Damien Hirst.

  5. I have that feeling of what has been lost as well-but that just encourages me to work harder towards making my art the best it can be. Plus taking the time to articulate an alternative to the lame art world status quo. You seem to be doing the same on your blog-the more voices take up this call, the harder it will be to ignore.

  6. Hey Richard, don’t know how you stumbled across me & my poetry, but thanks for following my blog the other day!

    This is one of many great posts you have here!

    I will keep reading; keep up the good work!

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