Thursday, April 14, 2011

does art have anything to do with life? (Robert Lax on Ad Reinhardt)

Robert Lax, Photo by Hartmut Geerken

During the early 1950s there was a big debate going on about whether or not art had anything to do with life.  Ad Reinhardt, artist and friend of Merton and Lax, claimed that "art is art is art", and that if people wanted nature, they should take a walk.

Lax admired Reinhardt and the clarity and purity that Rienhardt tried to achieve in his art.  He considered Ad's paintings as objects for meditation.  But he had his doubts about the idea that art should have nothing to do with life.

I'm beginning to think
r[einhardt] was wrong
not r[einhardt], but an idea i had
of him that i practically

that said life was the
opposite of art

& art was the opposite
of life

& proud of it

but i think life
has something 
to do with art

& it's just a matter
of finding

the special point

at which the two of them
get together.

- Robert Lax, Timeless Painting, Ad Reinhardt (Stuttgart: Staatsgalerie) 1985, p.85

See also Ad Reinhardt (1913-1967) - "Art is art. Everything else is everything else."

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Lax motto

Robert Lax, Photo by Hartmut Geerken 
A Lax motto that is perfectly out of keeping with our times ...

sit still

it will go away

- Robert Lax

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

"words stand between silence and silence"

The solitary life, being silent, clears away the smoke-screen of words that man has laid down between his mind and things. In solitude we remain face to face with the naked being of things. And yet we find that the nakedness of reality which we have feared, is neither a matter of terror nor for shame. It is clothed in the friendly communion of silence, and this silence is related to love. The world our words have attempted to classify, to control and even to despise (because they could not contain it) comes close to us, for silence teaches us to know reality by respecting it where words have defiled it.

When we have lived long enough alone with the reality around us, our veneration will learn how to bring forth a few good words about it from the silence which is the mother of Truth.

Words stand between silence and silence: between the silence of things and the silence of our own being. Between the silence of the world and the silence of God. When we have really met and known the world in silence, words do not separate us from the world nor from other men, nor from God, nor from ourselves because we no longer trust entirely in language to contain reality.

-- Thomas Merton
Thoughts in Solitude
first published in 1958 by Farrar, Strauss, Giroux
in early editions, pages 85-6, in more recent editions pages 82-3

Christ in the Rubble

The Rev. Munther Isaac lighting a candle next to an improvised crèche this month in the West Bank city of Bethlehem. Credit... Samar Hazboun...