File puptcrit/puptcrit.0811, message 278

Date: Mon, 17 Nov 2008 15:00:33 -0500
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] politics

I don't think Cambell meant what he said so literally.  Consider the
point that was made about Christian art for example.  I believe a
culture who have had no contact without side influences could
appreciate a Madonna and child as archetypally universal.  There is
composition and color, balance and an obvious scene of Mother and
child.  It has the elements within the piece to appreciate it as art.
I have no idea of what went on in the context of NW coast Haida
artwork and yet it is some of my favorite art work.  I think any one
seeing Guernica (sp?) by Picasso can absorb energy from the peice
without knowing the exact history of it.   I remember someone asking
Eric Bass what one of his pieces was about and he replied "what is it
about for you?"  I don't think art has to be understood contextually
necessarily.  I think what Cambell was getting at was that the art
work nopt rely on the reference for understanding or appreciation.  I
think he was being critical of art which relied on energy outside of
itself for understanding.  I left art school when I went to a gallery
and the show was  a red string running through it in a straight line
through the space.  It had nothing for me to grasp, ther was no energy
there for me.  Others thought it was brilliant and I didn't get it and
at the time (mid 70's) that was the sort of thing going on.  So moved
on. Another student named John Kahn was making cool circus sculpture.
I marvelled at it and had a discussion about the art scene.  He
encouraged me to make puppets if that was where my interest lay.
Interestingly he went on to become friends with the Hensons and the
huge mobile in the stairwell at Henson associates was done by John.
he also made stuff for Michael Motions productions.  Motion did the
crystal ball work in Labyrinth.

On Mon, Nov 17, 2008 at 12:42 PM, Ed Atkeson <> wrote:
>  >>> Hobey Ford: Joseph Cambell hade an interesting concept about the
> definition of art.  The main precept was that a work of art contains
> everything needed to absorb and comprehend the value within the
> piece.  If a major aspect of the artwork is refrenced outside the
> piece and needed to comprehend the piece then it did not meet the
> critieria.  I find the concept interesting but am not completely  in
> agreement.  Consider Diary of Anne Frank for instance (my example not
> Cambell's).  The journal is very everyday in terms of what happens
> within the diary.  A  main force of the work lies outside the book,
> namely the tragedy of WWII and the mass murder of  jewish people and
> ultimate death of Anne.
>    We find out outside the diary that Anne dies.  Cambell believed
> that referencing energy outside the piece made the work something
> else than art, not that is of no value but something else.  I am
> moved by Anne Frank's diary but the thing that gets me lies outside
> the work.  What do you think of this definition? Does the energy have
> to be generated within the piece through the characters or can those
> energies lies outside the work.  Consider if you made a work of art
> about the deaths of 911.  Is it manipulation?  there is a lot of
> energy in that concept that would come from the event not the art
> work necessarily. Is it then sentimentality or jerking the audience
> around?  This seems to be
> a factor in "political art".
> -----------------------
> Hobey, thanks for this, something to think about.
> I'm a big Joseph Campbell fan, but I have trouble with this idea
> about referencing in art. What about this? If you draw a line across
> a canvas, a landscape pops out. It's a reference from outside the
> piece, from back when we were lizards. We don't think, "line across a
> canvas" we think, "horizon line of a landscape." We can't really help
> associating every shape, color, idea of whatever... mom, god, sex,
> with our whole lived experience, can we?
> I guess I really disagree with Campbell's idea because I think that
> art has to reference from the real world. That's how art works!
> ART: A simple two-stage definition:
> 1) What people usually consider art -- that is, made by artist, shown
> in gallerys, hung on walls, displayed on pedestals. Art is simply
> art, no value judgement or analysis needed. Art is a simple category
> of objects.
> 2) The highest aspiration of humankind.
> Just my opinion!
> Ed
> As far as political art goes, I think politics usually detracts from
> art. I use a dichotomy like this, it it art or is it a political
> cartoon?
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