Excerpt from “After/Apres Francis Bacon”


Surrounded by duns, olives, sages,

grey-browns of trampled paddocks

the alcohol-blue flame of asphyxia

burns with all the vignetting of unconscious

darkening and diffusing the periphery.

Asphyxia choking out the world:

the clatter of hooves on cobbles

the clink of bridal bits

the hare-lipped stable hand laughing equine

all grow fainter,

making you distant

making you alone

making you, then retreating

and the ceiling expands to normality.

Better outside, later lurking near the stables

loitering at the kitchen garden

catching glimpses of grooms

their boots swelling over calves

leather straps held firm

the taut forearm bulging

as the hay bale is hoisted.

There you linger fearfully

anticipating delicious discovery

and subsequent blushing

that creeps upward and down.

Always hasty clouds and threat of rain, stifled

in greenness. Smell of damp tweed, lanolin

and dogs joyous, vigorous as eels,

pushing towards food. Sentinel maids in aprons

shuttle across the courtyard.

On the threshold you are shy,

awkward, eager for experience.

To read the book Alexander Adams, Peggy Pacini (trans.), After/Après Francis Bacon (Golconda Fine Art Books, February 2022, 250 copies first edition, 60pp, 1 col. illus., English/French, 80gsm paper, A5 size, £10 + p&p (UK and worldwide shipping)) visit here: https://www.bournbrookmag.com/books/p/afteraprs-francis-bacon-alexander-adams-2022

“Damned by beauty: Evelyn Nesbit”

[Image: Gertrude Käsebier, Miss N, c. 1901, photograph]

“In 1906 a woman many today term “the first supermodel” was a central figure in “the Murder of the Century”. Over the duration of the subsequent trial, New Yorkers daily indulged in the vicarious pleasure of reading in the yellow press about the luxurious lives and moral turpitude of the super wealthy. A love triangle involving a rich man, his model wife and a celebrated architect brought to the fore the depravity and social mores of New York high society.

“Florence Evelyn Nesbit (1884/5?-1967) was born into a middle-class family in Pittsburgh. When Evelyn’s father died her mother and daughter had to work to support themselves and Evelyn’s brother. The family moved to Philadelphia to find work, which meant that the children’s education was curtailed. The adolescent Evelyn’s beauty (“unblemished porcelain skin set against dark tresses […] Something magnetic and haunting about her large, smoky eyes and almost mournful smile”) caught the attention of a commercial artist, who asked her to sit to a portrait. She worked with a set of female artists who had been trained at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. After a year of Evelyn working as a model, mother and daughter moved to New York City 1900. Evelyn modelled clothed for photographers, artists and illustrators such as James Carroll Beckwith, Frederick Church and others; it seems she also modelled occasionally partially nude. She benefited from the advent of photography in newspapers, as well as being naturally elegant enough for illustrators producing line-block illustrations. For Charles Dana Gibson, she became a Gibson Girl, epitomising natural feminine beauty in his popular line illustrations. At a time when comely maidens were emblazoned on everything from sheet music covers and soap posters to toothpaste advertisements and cigarette cards, there was no lack of demand for appropriate models. In newspapers, Nesbit appeared anonymously in advertisements for major firms and also named in images accompanying articles on fashion and beauty. Nesbit became perhaps the first pin-up girl in numerous postcards and posters. She was in constant demand from artists, earning reasonable rather than impressive wages….”

To read the rest of this article on how a model’s beauty inspired artists and is still contentious a century after she shot to notoriety, become a paid subscriber to my Substack blog: https://alexanderadamsart.substack.com/p/damned-by-beauty-evelyn-nesbit

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Subscriptions needed: The Jackdaw

THE JACKDAW was founded in 2000. It is the UK’s leading independent fine arts newsletter, published 6 times per year. It publishes news, investigative journalism, opinion pieces, reviews of books and exhibitions, satire, exhibition listings, obituaries, letters and artist statements (with illustrations), covering fine art, architecture, public art and museum policy. For over 20 years THE JACKDAW has been a vital outlet for critics, journalists and artists to expose corruption, mismanagement and insider dealing in the art world, especially in the UK public arts scene. I write exclusive content in multiple pieces for every issue.

THE JACKDAW has been withdrawn from sale from every museum shop in the UK because of its trenchant criticism (most of it from working artists) of the arts establishment. It urgently needs new subscribers to continue. Visit here to read some content and subscribe to the print edition of THE JACKDAW here: http://www.thejackdaw.co.uk/ It is available to subscribers worldwide and covers American, Australian and European events in addition to its focus on the UK.

If you want to see independent art, cultural thought and art (and architectural) criticism please subscribe to the print version of THE JACKDAW. If you are an artist, you can publish your letters, statements and art work in the newsletter. If you consider yourself any supporter of dissident art or an opponent of art used in a utilitarian fashion for the managerial state, please back this vital outlet for free thought and new art with your money.

Thank you in advance.

EDIT: Link updated. Please have patience with the website. The Jackdaw is set up for print subscriptions not the website. I have found The Jackdaw to be very reliable and helpful regarding subscriptions.

José Ortega y Gasset, “The Dehumanization of Art and Other Essays”

Princeton University Press has issued a reprint of a significant work of art history, “The Dehumanization of Art” and four other essays on culture by Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset (1883-1955). The titular essay was first published in 1925; it will be treated last because of its importance. All the essays were written in the late 1920s and p1930s; three of them were published in Partisan Review in translation in 1949-1952.

In “Notes on the Novel”, the author considers the exhaustion of the novel form. “It has become practically impossible to find new subjects.”[i] In the essay considered last, Gasset takes up this theme with regard to painting. Familiarity blunts the originality and value of past novels, he writes. The highest purpose of literature and art is to present a heightened, more intense understanding of the world. Modern novels often fail because they are thinner, sparser, less original, less complete. For Gasset, Don Quixote, the earliest of Spanish novels is the best because it is the richest of novels.

“In Search of Goethe from Within” uses the centenary of Goethe to take the German novelist, playwright, poet and thinker as the complete polymath, taken in contrast with the inadequate figures of Gasset’s day. Goethe is a thinker who stepped out of himself and conceptualised a life as a man’s task – the result of conscious effort. (Does this prefigure Sartre and Camus’s existential man wrestling with the absurd?) Gasset sees Goethe as battling his own nature, “Hence his depressions, his stiffness, his distance from his surroundings, his bitterness. It was a life à rebours. […] But a man’s life is not the operation of the exquisite mechanisms which Providence put inside him. The crucial question is to ask oneself in whose service they operate. Was the man Goethe in the service of his vocation, or was he, rather, a perpetual deserter from his inner destiny?”[ii]“All our ideas are reactions – positive or negative – to the situations with which our destiny confronts us.” Goethe, Gasset decides, is fundamentally at odds with his own nature, hence his restlessness and awkwardness.

“The Self and the Other” functions as a companion piece to the Goethe essay, which explores the nature of working from within (that is, personally) and truth to one’s self. He describes the world in 1939 on the verge of war, when (in the Western world) the private individual is about to be temporarily abolished in favour of the patriotic citizen put in service of the defence of his country. “Almost all the world is in tumult, is beside itself, and when man is beside himself he loses his most essential attribute: the possibility of mediating, or withdrawing into himself to come to terms with himself and define what it is that he believes and what it is that he does not believe; what he truly esteems and what he truly detests. Being beside himself bemuses him, blinds him, forces him to act mechanically in a frenetic somnambulism.”[iii] A prime definitional characteristic of man is his capacity for interiority. Man becomes animalistic when he is faced with threats that demand he always be ready for fight or flight; he loses his capacity for detachment and inwardness. Gasset goes on to define thought as secondary to action in importance. In his evolution-influenced view, abstract thought arises only to support better action for survival and reproduction, although thought lifts man above the beasts.

As with all of these essays, there are persistent concerns between topics. The decline of culture is something that comes up in relation to fine art in the essays reviewed following. Gasset writes of “an overproduction of ideas, of books and works of art, a real cultural inflation. […] And, as occurs in capitalism, the market became saturated and crisis ensued.”[iv] Subsequent decline and stupefaction presage violent turmoil and war, when demagogues hustle men in unthinking action, preventing men from contemplation.

“On Point of View in the Arts” discusses the value and implications of distance and movement in art. Gasset nominates as significant proximate vision and distant vision “of which physiology speaks are not notions that depend chiefly on measurable factors, but are rather two distinct ways of seeing”.[v] At a distance “the structure of our hierarchized elements disappears. The ocular field is homogeneous; we do not see one thing clearly and the rest confusedly, for all are submerged in an optical democracy.”[vi]

Gasset notes that the object seen close up has greater corporeality through volumetric presence and the affect of stereoscopic parallax vision. When this close-up quality is removed through not just through simple distance but the expansion of the optical field through the inclusion of more legible forms. Gasset notes that concavity is the primary quality of proximate vision and convexity of the distant vision. In other words, close-up favours depictions of the solid object as volume; distance favours depictions of the hollow place as space. Gasset contends that Western art has developed from a depiction of the solid object to open space, with an ever-greater democratising flattening distance, notable in the development of the pure landscape. He sees multiple sources of attention but all treated with the same singular devoted fixation. The transition occurs in the Late Renaissance. The dematerialisation of form comes from Venice but first finds perfection in Velázquez and the transition to the triumph of the distance vision is achieved. From now on, the eye will be directed by the painter.

Gasset puts it nicely thus: “Proximate vision dissociates, analyses, distinguishes – it is feudal. Distant vision synthesizes, combines, throws together – it is democratic.” He applies a philosophical view to High Modernism. “Instead of painting objects as they are seen, one paints the experience of seeing. Instead of an object as impression, that is, a mass of sensations. Art, with this, has withdrawn completely from the world and begins to concern itself with the activity of the subject.”[viii] He reduces further. “First things are painted; then, sensations; finally, ideas. This means that in the beginning the artist’s attention was fixed on external reality; then, on the subjective; finally, on the intra-subjective. These three stages are three points on a straight line.”[ix]

  • “The Dehumanisation of Art”  

The essay “The Dehumanization of Art” is an approach to explain why High Modernism was so unpopular in 1925. While time, the canon and the subsequent general acceptance seems to have undercut the hostility towards High Modernism in the arts, Gasset’s points are well observed and worth raising, as they do seem valid and to persist. His argument runs thus: all new styles and schools have a period of lack of acceptance as they arise, challenging, as they do, the established styles and values. (Including, one might add, the vested interests of the dominant school’s practitioners, collectors and critical supporters.) In the case of High Modernism (which he does not describe with that term), Gasset says is different to other movements, for example Romanticism. The opponents of earlier vanguard art works were hostile because they understood the new art and realised how it defied conventions and promoted values inimical to the dominant ones; it consequently went through a phase of lacking popularity before finding a general audience. High Modernism, however, provokes actual hostility. “Modern art, on the other hand, will always have the masses against it. It is essentially unpopular; moreover, it is antipopular. […] It divides the public into two groups: one very small, formed by those who are favourably inclined towards it; another very large – the hostile majority.”[x]

“When a man dislikes a work of art, but understands it, he feels superior to it; and there is no reason for indignation. But when his dislike is due to his failure to understand, he feels vaguely humiliated and this rankling sense of inferiority must be counterbalanced by indignant self-assertion.”[xi] This is the prompt for the blustering rebuttal to an abstract painting in a museum “my child could have painted that”; in other words, he does not even recognise what is in front of him as art. To this we must consider the later complication of the situation of Post-Modernism, after Duchamp’s Readymades. In that, what is not art may be nominated as art. At which point we lose all critical apparatus and become passive subjects to consume, being unable to scrutinise, qualify, rank, reject and offer counter proposals.

He writes of difficult high art being a status marker used by elites. “[T]he new art also helps the elite to recognize themselves and one another in the drab mass of society and to learn their mission which consists in being few and holding their own against the many.”[xii] He sees accepting and conversing about difficult high culture as a mechanism as a way of separating the elite from the mass. It indirectly asserts an outlook that cannot be expressed plainly. We have been conditioned too much by the Enlightenment falsehoods of egalitarianism. “Behind all contemporary life lurks the provoking and profound injustice of the assumption that men are actually equal. Each move among men so obviously reveals the opposite that each move results in a painful clash.”[xiii] 

Gasset takes a cyclical view of art, repeating with unique elements arising. Certain forms get exhausted when the permutations and combinations become depleted through use and familiarity. Hence, new movements arise and seem vital, because the old movements have become tired. What did High Modernism mean to Gasset in 1925? “It tends (1) to dehumanize art, (2) to avoid living forms, (3) to see to it that the work of art is nothing but a work of art, (4) to consider art as play and nothing else, (5) to be essentially ironical, (6) to beware of sham and hence to aspire to scrupulous realization, (7) to regard art as a thing of no transcending consequence.”[xiv]

Gasset imputes antagonism to the artist, who is flaunting his distance from tradition and the common man. He detects a pervading irony which leaves the viewer wrongfooted. In a famous passage he identifies the problem of irony, which will poison so much art from the era of Late Modernism onwards.

“Madame Tussaud’s comes to mind and peculiar uneasiness aroused by dummies. The origin of this uneasiness lies in provoking ambiguity with which wax figures defeat any attempt at adopting a clear and consistent attitude toward them. Treat them as living beings, and they will sniggeringly reveal their waxen secret. Take them for dolls, and they seem to breathe in irritated protest. They will not be reduced to mere objects. Looking at them we suddenly feel a misgiving: should it not be they who are looking at us? Till in the end we are sick and tired of those hired corpses.”[xvi]

Organic forms have become repugnant to artists, who instead turn to crystalline mineral forms, flat facets and straight lines. As outlined in the previous essay, Gasset declares that Expressionism, Cubism and so forth are all attempts at painting ideas, detached from emotions and reality of lived experience. Gasset sees as indivisibly bound to the rise of Modernism “this negative mood of mocking aggressiveness”.[xviii] “Baudelaire praises the black Venus precisely because the classical is white. From then on the successive styles contain an ever increasing dose of derision and disparagement until in our day the new art consists almost exclusively of protests against the old.”[xix]

José Ortega y Gasset, The Dehumanization of Art and Other Essays on Art, Culture and Literature, Princeton Classics, 2019, paperback, 204pp + xiii, $16.95, ISBN 978 0 691 19721 0

To read my follow-up piece, please become a Substack paid subscriber to read it here: https://alexanderadamsart.substack.com/p/was-jose-ortega-y-gasset-correct

(c) 2023 Alexander Adams

To see my art and books visit www.alexanderadams.art

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[i] P. 59, José Ortega y Gasset, The Dehumanization of Art and Other Essays on Art, Culture and Literature, Princeton Classics, 2019

[ii] Pp. 157-8

[iii] P. 178

[iv] P. 198

[v] P. 109

[vi] P. 110

[viii] P. 124

[ix] P. 127

[x] P. 5

[xi] P. 6

[xii] P. 7

[xiii] P. 7

[xiv] P. 14

[xvi] Pp. 28-9

[xvii] P. 48

[xviii] P. 44

[xix] P. 44

“Dealers and Gamblers”

In a new piece, I look at the links between gambling, risk-taking and avant-gardism in the arts.

“Under electric lights, seated men watch the dealer turn over playing cards on the green baize. Glasses of whisky and brandy are at their elbows, chips stacked high or low, a thin veil of cigar smoke just above bowed heads…

“Last month I read stories by Knut Hamsun on men ruined by gambling. Hamsun was a big gambler, spending his royalties from his novels HungerMysteries and Pan in Danish casinos. Despite his literary fame and financial success, Hamsun’s gambling fever put his marriage at risk and threatened him with bankruptcy. This led me to an idea about risk, temperament, and vanguardism, specifically in relation to reactionary creators. 

“We should distinguish conservatives from reactionaries. Temperamentally, conservatives are aligned with liberals and socialists. They are risk averse. Conservatives value continuity, stability and predictability: anti-risk qualities. Together with socialists, they value conformity and group cohesion. They prioritize the socialization of risk and cost – conservatives through family and local community, socialists through the welfare state. 

“These people are far removed from the risk-taking, disagreeable, headstrong loners of the archetypes of the pioneer, explorer, prospector, athlete and warrior….”

To read the full article for free, visit IM-1776 here: https://im1776.com/2023/02/14/dealers-and-gamblers/

To see my art and books, visit: http://www.alexanderadams.art

Image as Protest: Joy Gerrard, Paula Rego

[Image: Joy Gerrard, Abortion Rights Protest after Roe versus Wade falls, (Philadelphia. June 24 2022), 2022 / Ink on paper / 24.4 x 37.5 cm. Courtesy Joy Gerrard and Cristea Roberts Gallery, London © Joy Gerrard]

Art grounded on political protest by Irish artist Joy Gerrard (b. 1971) and Dame Paula Rego RA (1935-2022) is being exhibited in Image as Protest, at Cristea Roberts Gallery, London. Rego’s prints are on the subject of back-street abortions and female genital mutilation (FGM or female circumcision). Gerrard’s paintings in black and white are of crowds, after source photographs that are taken from a high vantage point, including aerial photography. At a distance, the multitudes become cloud-like or similar to pebbles on a beach, occupying a street, scattered over a road junction or public square. Only when the fray at the edges do they gain more recognisably human form. Otherwise, the group remains a pullulating mass, dehumanised at a distance.

In some, we get to see simple faces, mouths caught open in the act of chanting. Her technique is effective. Colour would distract and confuse us. The care taken to depict the settings (buildings, street markings, skies) gives the crowds greater veracity, as we see the phenomenon occurring in a convincing setting. There is talk in a recent catalogue of the influence of Constable. That is not convincing. What happens is that any skilled artist who lavishes care and time on making art must seem to have some commonalities with preceding artists. There are large paintings on canvas and some articulated screens, called “barriers”. These larger paintings are less effective. Ink-wash/watercolour always works better in a reduced field and compressed space; on a large scale, its unsubstantiality is unsatisfying. It is something to do with the ratio of medium presence to ground presence.  

Gerrard’s art reminds us of the surveillance of the state (official as well as covert), as well as the medium of the mass broadcast media, which is how the spectacle of the crowd is recorded and transmitted nationally and internationally. It is primarily through spectacle that the mass gathering operates and that is done through recorded media of the photograph and video recording. The disruption, violence, graffiti and closure of thoroughfares is an additional element but it is impact of the visual that lasts longest and becomes an argumentation element. For example, the nationwide demonstration against the proposed allied invasion of Iraq in 2003 is cited as the largest ever public demonstration (dispersed over numerous locations) and the force of the argument is amplified by the sheer numbers present at those events, supported by pictorial representations of it. It supports the argument that the legitimacy of a cause is indicated by the number of supporters, the visual density of the crowd, its capacity to fill and immobilise major streets and squares in a modern city. It is rhetorical device, as are these paintings of crowds and Rego prints centred on lone figures.  

[Image: Joy Gerrard, Women, Rights, Freedom, Rally for protestors in Iran (Berlin, October 22, 2022), 2022 / Ink on paper / 29 x 34 cm. Courtesy Joy Gerrard and Cristea Roberts Gallery, London © Joy Gerrard.]

Gerrard’s images of crowds often lack pictorial context. At a great distance, an aerial photograph cannot distinguish between an anti-lockdown protest and the Capitol Building 6 January gathering from a pro-abortion rally or BLM protest. Unless slogans are placed in the painting on visible placards or banners or identifiable flags are shown, context only emerges in titles or captions. So the art is visually ambiguous. It is not generally inherent in the composition of the elements or their handling. In a painting without visible slogans, flags, symbols or individual personnel, the meaning of the gathering is not only ambiguous, it is actually irrelevant. More than that, it is interchangeable and manipulatable. There is a reliance of title to supply meaning. (‘Our Abortions’ (Brooklyn Bridge, New York. May 14, 2022); Women, Rights, Freedom, Rally for protestors in Iran (Berlin, October 22, 2022), etc.) Change the caption from “pro-BLM rally” to “anti-lockdown protest” and you have changed the connotations of the event depicted. Only with careful research (by comparing the painting with source photographs) would the deception be detectable. Art, rather than holding up a true mirror to reality – the verum speculum advocated by the Schoolmen philosophers – becomes a tool for lying.

[Image: Paula Rego, Untitled 5, 1999, Etching / Paper and Image 38 x 48.0 cm / Edition of 17. © Ostrich Arts Ltd. Courtesy Ostrich Arts Ltd and Cristea Roberts Gallery, London]

Rego’s eight Untitled etchings (1999-2000) are small and show pregnant women posed in position they would adopt while trying to induce a miscarriage. Women spread their legs around chair, squat over bowls, lie awkwardly with a wristwatch nearby. Blood trickles from their vagina. The squalor of the women and the indomitability of the metal pail awaiting its contents makes a strong impression. Rego elicits sympathy by showing the rough indignities of approximations of back-street abortions. This is done by portraying the suffering as wholly the mothers’. The blood is her blood, the pain is her pain, she is made ugly and animal like by these processes. The child’s suffering is not quantified because it is invisible, literally hidden within the woman. Visually, it does not exist, therefore is hard to care because of the leap of imagination that would be required. The counter argument – that the injustice is not illegal abortion but abortion itself – is not approached. This partial argument (concealing the full consequences or the other parts of the consideration) extends to the unseen undepicted corollary of clean, clinical, anaesthetised abortions – something that requires no fewer pails of blood and body parts than illegal abortions do.

The series was made to be reproduced in the Portuguese press in the run up to the referendum on the legalisation of abortion. It is claimed that the illustrations were powerful enough to sway the electorate, who voted in favour of legalisation. It would take a tough opponent of abortion not to feel pity for the subjects here. In other prints, the danger to women’s lives from botched abortions is presented in the form of puppet theatres, with caricatural figures and dolls, including real people. The series is joined by two large colour aquatint etchings. In one, a group of grotesque figures, some based on dolls or puppets, is heaped up in a nocturnal scene. One female figure has her legs cruelly trussed together. The artist has dripped red watercolour on it to imply blood.

[Image: Paula Rego, Little Brides with their mother, 2009-2010, Etching with aquatint and spit-bite, Paper and Image 46.4 x 55.4 cm / Edition of 35. © Ostrich Arts Ltd. Courtesy Ostrich Arts Ltd and Cristea Roberts Gallery, London]

Circumcision (2009) is Rego’s depiction of a child undergoing FGM shows the girl being held down while the three women impassively undertake their task. The characters’ expressions are akin to those of women doing the unpleasant but necessary acts of slaughtering of an animal or gutting a carcase. It is an image that provokes a reaction of repulsion and anger, doing so because it refuses to directly depict the bloody violence, which would repulse the viewer into averting their gaze. Through modulation Rego implies but does not describe. However, notice a telling sleight of hand. In Great Britain, FGM is a practice primarily carried out by migrants of sub-Saharan African descent. The child is black but the three women holding her and damaging her genitals are white. In truth, these women would almost always be black. Yet, Rego must have realised that picture of a black child being mutilated by black woman would have presented FGM as an act done by black African adults to black African children, which (in statistical terms) it is. Rego’s liberal conscious prevented her from showing the truth – that FGM (by geographic and religious distribution) is overwhelmingly a black African practice. Rego’s deliberate distortion unwittingly reveals a truth. Namely, that it is precisely the fact that it is migrant groups and non-white individuals who perpetrate this crime that has meant that there are so few prosecutions by the English system where white liberals (who staff the majority of positions in public education, social services and the judiciary) are terrified of being accused of racial insensitivity.

Long practice instilled in Rego absolute confidence in herself and in the commanding presence that well-executed figure drawing has. She had limitations, but within her chosen field she was successful. Gerrard’s paintings also work but obliquely and in ways that are more out of the control of the artist. Whereas Rego made her images from nothing other than her imagination and good use of experience, models and materials, Gerrard finds her images and recognises their potential, perhaps not understanding the mechanisms that operate upon her instincts. Either approach – to summon out of nothing or to find and adapt something pre-existing – is legitimate for an artist, though it tends to impart different qualities.  

I would urge everyone interested in rhetoric in the visual arts to visit the exhibition, setting aside their personal views on the subject of abortion. Cristea Roberts Gallery are to be commended for putting on such a show, which is a touch more controversial than perhaps the staff realised in the planning.

Image as Protest: Joy Gerrard & Paula Rego, Cristea Roberts Gallery, London (27 January-4 March 2023)

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(c) 2023 Alexander Adams

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“Nietzsche on painting, purity and heroism”

“Reading Unpublished Fragments from the Period of Thus Spake Zarathustra (Spring 1884-Winter 1884/5), the 15th volume in the series The Complete Works of Friedrich Nietzsche published by Stanford University, it comes as a surprise to encounter Nietzsche writing so much on fine art, especially painting, which he never published on.

“Before entering any discussion about these fragments, it needs to be understood that many scholars refuse to consider the Nachlass (German: legacy, estate) papers as legitimate sources on Nietzsche’s thought. As unguarded speculation, irritable jottings and test-outs of thoughts, they are much different from the published writings. Although they might show the path Nietzsche took to reach those books, they also throw up some contradictions and diversions. As such, even carefully transcribed and annotated – as these are – we encounter not only the working material but ideas or observations never intended for anyone but the author. What we take from these papers can be downright misleading.

“That said, what do we find Nietzsche writing on the subject of the fine arts? He had treated Greek drama and modern opera at length, but he did not publish on painting, so it is natural to be curious about what his thoughts on purely visual art.

“Nietzsche sees values as man-made but he is wary of humanism, rationalism and scientism. He is torn between seeing morality and developing from essential human truths, unguided by rationalism, yet is still fascinated by the insights provided by biology, physiology and psychology….”

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