Nôtre-Dame, Paris (central entrance door)
The right question to ask, respecting all ornament, is simply this: Was it done with enjoyment — was the carver happy while he was about it?– John Ruskin, The Seven Lamps of Architecture.
... heterogeneous elements will provoke affective reactions of varying intensity (...) There is sometimes attraction, sometimes repulsion, and in certain circumstance, any object of repulsion can become an object of attraction and vice versa... (p. 69)Can this "impossible to assimilate" force be processed within society?
Heterogeneous ... is that of a force or shock. It presents itself as a charge, as a value, passing from one object to another in a more or less abstract fashion, almost as if the change were taking place not in the world of objects but only in the judgments of the subject. (p. 70)Bataille suggests a causal chain-reaction guiding the heterogenous. A surplus energy which must be spent externally. This is the shock what leads to imperialistic wars and destructive violence. By now, the sacred now assumes uncontrollable and potentially catastrophic forms.
Opposed to democratic politicians (...) Mussolini and Hitler immediately stand out as something other (...) Considered not with regard to its external action but with regard to its source, the force of a leader is analogous to that exerted in hypnosis. (p. 70)Think of "hypnosis" as socio/aesthetic phenomenon –a side show of our political impasse. Being hypnotized by symbols is not out of the question. However, if one yields to aesthetic fondness while in the presence of Demon, self-indulgence fizzles as soon as one is hit with the truth:
In recent years there has been a return to a highly drafted aesthetic in art (...) But when the artist does not make his or her own work, what does it mean for the nature of art, and for the status of the artist? How can we distinguish between the artist and the artisan? Do we even need to? (Intro, p. 6)Petry is not equating "craft" with "fine arts." He has a different agenda.
If the intentions of context of the actual maker are irrelevant to a work's meaning, then why get your hands dirty with the making? Anyone can produce the work for you; its authorship lies elsewhere. Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst and Takashi Murakami clearly fit this category, with their hundreds of assistants producing the work of "the artist" in factory-like conditions. (Intro, p. 11)Petry seems so enthused with the prospect of "hundreds of assistants." As if "not making" was some kind of culmination of Renaissance and Baroque's arts and crafts relations of production, a come back of a movement. But we're not in the Baroque era. This is a Post Fordist assembly-line production with a star artist producing artworks made by hundreds of (anonymous) assistants in glorified artsy sweatshops. Here comes Petry's conclusion:
Art was still looked upon as a mere handicraft, and the artist as an ordinary artisan with no part or lot in the spiritual value of knowledge or education. He was still ill-paid, without secure abode, and led a wandering life, and so was a stranger and foreigner in the city that employed him. (SHA, Vol. I, p. 55)The difference between a commentator like Petry and Hauser is that the latter is careful to present a socio-economic backdrop against which structural developments occur. One cannot properly address the fine art/craft split during the Renaissance without understanding the economic innovations in banking, architecture, commerce and the agrarian revolution, which drives Humanism and the fine arts. For example, Giorgio Vasari no longer considers the acceptance of handicraft work compatible with the self-respect of an artist. This stage coincides with the end of the economic dependence of artists on the guilds. (SHA, Vol. II, p 49).
This is more than the artist's inborn pride, more than the consciousness of being superior to the craftsman, the mere mechanic, the philistine (...) Michelangelo is the first example of the modern, lonely, demonically impelled artist —the first to be completely possessed by his idea and for whom nothing exists but his idea— who feels a deep sense of responsibility towards his gifts and sees a higher and superhuman power in his own artistic genius. (SHA, Volume II, p. 56).Toward the end of mid-Nineteenth Century fine art & craft converge again, during the Arts and Crafts revolution in England. But by now it's too late. The down-top push for a return to Quattrocento ideals of craftsmanship espoused by Ruskin and Morris cannot counter the top-down productive forces unleashed by the Industrial Revolution. Hauser puts it elegantly:
In other words, those elements which might have transferred the tradition of craftsmanship to mechanical production, the independent masters and their apprentices, were eliminated from economic life before they had had any chance of adapting themselves and the traditions of their craft to the new methods of production. (SHA, Volume III, p.68)When the industrial machine takes over so much of the function of manufacture, the craftsperson is reduced to a part of a totally mechanized culture. Technological changes contribute to a transition from home-based craft production of goods to mass manufacture in urban factories, and as a result, trade replaces craft. This is why William Morris took the Middle Ages as the crafts' model era: The craftsperson produces beauty because he/she is the master of his/her material, tools, and time.
At the other end of the spectrum is Mr. Koons, who runs his vast, high-ceilinged studio with an efficiency that discourages personal interactions. Everyone has an assigned task, from painting a section of a canvas by following elaborate diagrams to mixing dozens of paints to produce exactly the right color. Large paintings are lifted up a wall by electric hoists; in one room on a recent afternoon, two painters worked silently on a canvas at floor level while two others painted the upper part from a scaffold. There's a hierarchy of supervisors, including a studio manager, a painting supervisor and several assistant managers. It brings to mind an assembly line.The article explains:
Mr. Koons says he has 150 people on his payroll and that he himself never wields a paintbrush. "If I had to be doing this myself, I wouldn't even be able to finish one painting a year," he says. Every year his studio averages 10 paintings and 10 sculptures. In the last four years, six of his works offered at auction have sold for prices between $11 million and $25 million each.At this point we need to make a distinction: Koons' is not an "assembly line" in the traditional Fordist sense. Koons keeps a Fordist skeleton with Post-Fordist tissue and nerves.
I was assigned a new work, a painting called “Cracked Egg.” (...) My job was simple: Paint by numbers. The most intricate sections required miniature brushes, sizes 0 and 00, their bristles no longer than an eyelash. The goal was to hand-fashion a flat, seamless surface that appeared to have been manufactured by machine, which meant there could be no visible brush strokes, no blending, no mistakes. After five long months, the painting —my painting— was nearly complete.Here is a true sentence: "Cracked Egg was painted by an anonymous craftsperson, not by Jeff Koons."
In our description of the Southern Gentleman, his family and friends, his negroes, horses, dogs and estates, his manners, speech, opinions, excellencies, and faults, all indeed that appertains to him, we wish the reader to understand from the beginning, that we intend to confine ourselves to such a gentleman as is peculiarly the outgrowth of the institutions of the South."-- See, Social Relations in Our Southern States, Daniel Robinson Hundley (p. 20).