It is improbable that more nonsense has been written about aesthetics than about anything else: the literature of the subject is not large enough for that (Clive Bell)


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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Der Blaue Reiter Almanac : Vasily Rozanov

Bavarian mirror painting, after 1800

Vasily Rozanov 
 from "Italian Sketches", 1909

In contrast to modern art the art of antiquity as a whole is not psychological. . . . But perhaps the art of antiquity was more metaphysical?

In all those marble works we find the dimensions again and again, the measurements of the human corpus, the unending search for (and perhaps discovery of?) the definitive truth of these dimensions and of their harmony. We could call this “tailor’s calculations.” Does this not seem to be very trifling, very poor? But what did Moses say when he came down from Mount Sinai, and what did he tell the Children of Israel about the building of the Temple (Tabernacle)? He only gave details about dimensions and colors, almost nothing but dimensions. When we read the account of the “Exodus of the Children of Israel” we can almost hear the tailor call out the figures for the garments ordered—-length, width, girth, bending. The Tabernacle is God’s
dress: this is their  unexpressed idea. The prophet Ezekiel says nothing about his impression of the envisioned Temple, nothing about where God is, nothing about the image of this Temple. But he tires and exhausts the reader’s patience with pages of numbers and more numbers, with dimensions and more and more dimensions. And the sage Pythagoras considered the “number” to be the “essence of all things.”“Each thing has its own number. He to whom the number of the thing has been revealed also knows the hidden essence of things.” There is a specific mystery about numbers and measures; God is the measure of all things—after the Creation. Before the Creation, should he not be called the tailor of all things, “cutting” the world according to his heavenly meaning? 

Presumably,  this brief note is included to enhance  the importance of numbers in modern/spiritual art, as discussed by Kandinsky in the previous essay.

 Rozanov   was apparently a real piece of work - now best known for his habit of immediately contradicting himself - and exemplary of the Russian enthusiasm for anything with a whiff of arcane mysticism about it.

It does not appear that he ever became seriously involved with numerology -- he just liked the idea of it.

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