japonisme: 8/26/12 - 9/2/12

30 August 2012

The Music of Change

Easily, it is argued, dress is an artform reflecting its time as much as do painting, sculpture, and craft. With what are we left when the final romances of Japonisme go to smoke and the circumstances of the world take all the rest with it?

As we have seen, the blocks of color and the asymmetry have been retained, but the outlines are gone, though still perhaps implied. simplicity remains, and one can often still intuit nature's influence, but without question, there has been a change.

What we do know is that cubism is not only a natural when it comes to artistic evolution, but also inevitable in the face of the disintegration of the world as many had known it. We were no longer naive. We were motorized, our visions changed.


Who am I?
Where am I from?
I’m Antonin Artaud
And since I speak
As I know
In a moment
You’ll see my present body
Shatter to pieces
And gather itself
In a thousand notorious
A fresh body
In which you’ll never
Be able
To forget me.

Antonin Artaud

Things were taken apart and reassembled in ways that were unimaginally new. Along with the other artists, poets followed suit and shattered meaning, then reflected it in a mirror put it back anew. Inspired both by wars and by technological advances, they forced their readers to find the meaningful bits amidst the chaos.


I put my cap in the cage
And went out with the bird on my head
One no longer salutes
The officer said
One no longer salutes
Replied the bird
Oh good
Pardon me I thought that one saluted
The officer said
You are fully excused we all make mistakes
Said the bird

Jacques Prévert

"Things fall apart," said Yeats, revealling the mind-set ofthe pre-post-war generations; "The ceremony of innocence is drowned." Music fractured into jazz. Costume fractured into patched work and spiralled. Componant parts redefined the whole.


Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries
of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

William Butler Yeats

Do I, as a number of us have discussed recently, embrace the paintings of this era as I do those of just earlier times? Nope. But fashion, rugs, and other material forms of creativity, recalling Kabuki geometrics, I must admit that I'm crazy for.

The simplicity and the lines learned from the Japanese are still here, only syncopated, a little be-bop in the mix. I can do nothing but shake my head and tap my toes.

translations from here

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