Friday, 6 February 2009

The Mystique of Purity

Back to the sense of roundabout symbolism. What is that powerful draw, that essence that is sought in the perfection of design? Has Poggioli at last provided a clue....

“… this does not mean that the iconoclastic attitude can always be reduced to a vulgar gesture of protest or a brutal act of vandalism. Its more profound root is sometimes the quasi-religious aspiration toward and absolute emotional and mental freedom, the desire to reacquire an ingenuousness and innocence of vision which modern man seems forever to have lost, the anxious will to discover the eternal laws of ideal or perfect form. There is no doubt that it was an aspiration or will of this type which led Picabia to display, as if it were a painting, an empty frame, hung in mid-air; this let Kandinsky’s famous revelation, when he became convinced that his true work of art, creative and not imitative, was what had appeared for the first time to his eyes when he beheld one of his own traditional canvases put, by chance, back to. Such examples demonstrate that iconoclasm can come to be seen as the negative moment of a tendency elsewhere discussed as the mystique of purity.”

The Theory of the Avant-garde
Renato Poggioli (1962) pp 181

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