Do you appreciate art, listen to music, or read a story that is all without harmony?
Wassily Kandinsky on the Spiritual Element in Art and the Three Responsibilities of Artists
“To harmonize the whole is the task of art.”
‘Bemoaning the tendency of the general public to reduce art to technique and skill, Kandinsky argues that its true purpose is entirely different and adds to history’s most beautiful definitions of art:
In each picture is a whole lifetime imprisoned, a whole lifetime of fears, doubts, hopes, and joys. Whither is this lifetime tending? What is the message of the competent artist? … To harmonize the whole is the task of art.
‘And yet, Kandinsky admonishes, the notion of “art for art’s sake” produces a “neglect of inner meanings” — a lament perhaps even more “sad and ominous” in our age of consistent commodification of art as a thing to transact around — to purchase, to own, to display — rather than an experience to have. He writes:
‘The spiritual life, to which art belongs and of which she is one of the mightiest elements, is a complicated but definite and easily definable movement forwards and upwards. This movement is the movement of experience. It may take different forms, but it holds at bottom to the same inner thought and purpose…’
Whatever Happened To Stiff Paper?
One thing I like about Japanese artists is that they still use stiff paper, textured cards, or paper mache’ for their creations which are really beautiful. I shouldn’t have discovered that if I wasn’t shopping on a surplus shop.
‘Card stock (basically stiff paper) was used for plane tickets, train tickets, ferry tickets, the cards in library books. It was (and is) thicker than a sheet of typewriter paper, thinner and more flexible than paperboard. It was made to last.
‘But when you go to a theater these days, when you board a bus, what do you see? People show up with a sheet of ordinary paper bearing bar codes; some simply slide their phones under a scanner; airlines will still print you a ticket at the gateway, but it’s possible now to fly all over the world without ever needing to handle a stiffer-than-usual ticket.
‘OK, so the world is using less stiff paper, so what? If you’re a tree, that’s a good thing. If you’re a business having to deal with increasingly crumpled, wrinkly tickets pulled out of pocket-bottoms and folded wallets, maybe that’s a problem, but card stock is expensive. Businesses must be saving money. Legibility may suffer, but the real loss, suggests materials scientist , is more spiritual…’