Thursday, December 10, 2009

Art for living = living for art

Alfredo Triff

(Sarah Gavlak, in the photo above, has made an art gallery out of her apartment).
The New York Times article by Penelope Green mentions the word "saloniste," which harks back to the apogee of the late-Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Parisian salons. But as such, the bourgeois salon was not primarily a place to sell art, but to show it as conspicuous token of cultural status. Early and mid-Nineteenth Century salonistes bought and promoted art; not precisely the predicament of these Twenty-First Century gallerists.

So what? There is something remarkable about exhibiting art pour l'art consistency. Then, selling art becomes secondary to "living art"* -which clearly sells. Imagine these post-Capitalist autarchical denizens going about their normal private lives -sans the public. Suddenly, the means-to-end of picayune every-day life evaporates. The dichotomy between object and subject is erased: Art feels less abstract, more emplaced. Thus, I quote poet and saloniste Théophile Gautier, requiring, precisely that art be severely art-fashioned, as the NYTimes piece seems to suggest:

More fair the work, more strong
Stamped in resistance long,
Enamel, marble, song.
Poet, no shackles bear,
Yet bid thy Muse to wear
The buskin bound with care.
A fashion loose forsake,
A shoe of sloven make,
That any foot may take.

*Life begins to imitate art: Is it me the only one noticing a likeness between Ms. Gavlak and the women in Cristopher Milne's paintings in photos #2 and #3?

Oui, l'oeuvre sort plus belle
D'une forme au travail
Vers, marbre, onyx, émail.
Point de contraintes fausses!
Mais que pour marcher droit
Tu chausses,
Muse, un cothurne étroit.
Fi du rhythme commode,
Comme un soulier trop grand,
Du mode
Que tout pied quitte et prend!

Théophile Gautier, Émaux et camées (Paris: Bibliotheque-Charpentier, 1918), p. 223, and Enamels and Cameos and Other Poems, trans. Agnes Lee (The Complete Works, New York: Bigelow, Smith & Co., 1910), p. 180.


Feminista said...

No, you are not crazy. The women in the gallery's paintings look very much like the gallerist in the photo. Anyway I love your blog.

miamibourbaki said...