A Political Idea

According to Eckermann:

“Goethe added that the idea of the whole, which turned upon aristocracy and democracy, was by no means of universal interest.”

I think it significant that questions such as the relation of part and whole, which are in fact of immediate and compelling interest to artists, and very difficult to compass, are so boring when they are expounded because aesthetics is so musty and boring, and it seems always to have been. This despite the fact that, as Goethe pointed out so long ago, they are of great political importance—or maybe because of it. They open horizons in art that we can’t reach in life. Those who find formalism in art dull, and I met many in my teaching days, need to be constantly distracted by clever ideas, but perhaps on a deeper level they don’t want to confront reality. This means both human reality and nature. The discussion brought up in earlier posts about the struggle of the part to break free from the whole, and its drive to join again, is politics on the level of the studio, where it matters for an artist.

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Robert Linsley, Untitled watercolor 2013

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