In 1900 Sigmund Freud published The Interpretation of Dreams and by 1908 the First International Congress of Psychoanalysis took place. Psychoanalysis became an important scientific movement in search of how the mind is composed and what motivates man's actions. The world of the subconscious mind began to be studied by the conscious mind. In 1900 Max Plank published his Quantum Theory; in 1905 Albert Einstein published his General Theory of Relativity and in 1915 his Special Theory of Relativity. Science launched us into the Nuclear Age.
Between 1914 and 1917, during the First World War, ten million people died and another twenty million were wounded. In 1920 the General Hospital of Vienna organized a Commission and asked Freud his opinion on psychoanalysis as an alternative to psychotropic drugs and electroshock to treat soldiers suffering from war trauma.
Andre Breton was a French Physiatrist who had used Freudian Theory to cure some of his patients at a neurological ward in Nantes, France, during the First War World. At the end of the war he came to think that if science had not been able to give peace to the world maybe the answer to our crazy behavior was in our subconscious mind. Since artists had a less pronounced wall of division between the conscious and subconscious mind, he created a group of artists to help understand the subconscious. He defined surrealism as "pure psychic automatism." He felt that the key to the answer to our behavior had to be in our subconscious mind. The young intellectuals of Europe were angry about the destruction caused by the war and had proclaimed that as the philosopher Rousseau had said, civilization, science and art were only an artificial cover-up for rotten emotions.
Before the surrealist movement was integrated, artists were already engaged in an iconoclastic battle against a not so civil civilization. "The cult of the ugly," as Emile Zola, one of the best known progressive writers of the late 19th century, had baptized it, was already in full swing since artists and writers felt that society was ugly and they wanted to be faithful to reality, proclaiming that a bitter truth is better than a beautiful lie. Industrialists and businessmen bore the brunt of the artists' attack against civilization with joy since they were in search of their own culture away from that of the nobility.
It is very important to realize that science is the knowledge we have about a specific field of endeavor and it is universal. Art is the application of that knowledge by a person or a group of persons. The better the science, that is, the better the knowledge, the better the art. Art is not reduce to painting or sculpture but is any individual application of science. A doctor study medicine, and during those years he is studying the science. When he applies what he learns with his patients, he becomes an artist. An artist can become a good artist or a bad artist in accord to the particular application of his or her general knowledge.
The oligarchic bourgeoisie looked back at the work of Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Cezanne and Paul Gauguin, who had become the fathers of the modernist revolution, and saw that their society had already produced its own art. The only problem was that those artists had already lost all the science gained over 300 hundred years since the Renaissance. The bourgeoisie did not need the artist as a professional painter since they could use photography for their historical chronicle, portraits and advertisement. However, they saw that art could be good business if it was produced fast. Also, since artists had, since the French Revolution, been committed to the poor, the titans of industry decided to make sure the art they supported had no meaning.
In the beginning, the art academies—still in the hands of the nobility—did not receive the modernist precursors with pleasure. Paul Cezanne, (1839-1906) had very little instruction as a painter as had Vincent Van Gogh, (1853-1890) and Paul Gauguin, (1848-1903). They did not want to learn how to paint because they did not desire to inhibit their spontaneity. The artists excused themselves by saying that they did not want to apprehend the physical aspect of their models but their character and emotion. They claimed they were engaged in a war against sensory impressions, against form.
Cezanne decided that the content of his art was in what his eyes thought. His paintings should be parallel constructions to nature but not servile to nature. The artist should go back to nature but not in order to serve her or mimic her. Although Emile Zola backed the movement against the nobility, he did not want to write about Cezanne's work because he felt that he painted badly only because he could not paint better.
Since the Renaissance with the resurrection of Greek and Roman art, artists had learned that natural forms are basically geometric. Everything can be reduced to the circle, the triangle, the square and the rectangle. Cezanne said that the geometric form had its own dignity and it should be kept by the artist in its purity. The artist should stay away from narrative since art had served only as illustration to literature. It was about time that art would gain its own freedom. He believed color should be to painting what the musical notes were to music. Since the eye became the thinking organ of the modern artist art suffered the logical consequences of this transference by letting go of reason.
Paul Gauguin spent part of his early years in Lima, Peru, which helped to orient him back to nature when in 1891 he fled French civilization for the exploited French protectorate of Tahiti. This was the first time that a European artist tried to find away from the decadent European civilization the pure springs of art inspiration. The eye, as the new organ of thought, did not report to him that the civilization that was exploiting Tahiti was the same that consumed its goods in Paris and therefore he could not predict that his story and paintings were going to be consumed by the business interest of the art world he helped to create.
From that time on, that world would not care any more about living artists doing good work but a about crazy sad stories to be sold to the public.
Gauguin and Van Gogh were against painting any illusionist similarities to the three dimensional world. They only wanted to present a higher spiritual vibration with color, which they felt was impossible if the artist became preoccupied with technique.
Van Gogh painted with his heart since he so beloved all the pure colors. "How beautiful was yellow! How lovely was red! He wanted to paint with the simplicity that a child thinks. To go back to nature meant to see the world as a child sees it, act as a child, feel as a child. This is why he believed color should be applied pure, with a sense of urgency on the canvas. The sense of emotion could only be achieved without exactness. Going back to naturalism should be accomplished with anti-naturalistic form and color. The way back to nature was a path away from reason.
Already the critics were pontificating on the great talent of those artists who exalted instinct and permitted the automatic expression of their emotions, not limiting them by the cooling influence of classical technique. The virtue of youth had to be expressed in vital strokes revolting against old age. Action and dynamism should oppose stagnant traditional values, which meant the values of the nobility. Colors were to painting as letters to the alphabet; geometry was to painting what grammar was to literature. No more literary painting!
Writers were not too pleased. Rouault painted "Mr. And Mrs. Pulot" characters in the book The Poor Woman by Leon Bloy, who detested the painting and told the painter that his love was only for the ugly.
In 1905 the first fauve exhibit was made. A critic qualified it as "the cage aux fauves" or the box of the beasts, which would later be called expressionism in Germany. According to this new expressionist movement, art was not a thought but a fact. A painting had to be constructed with color not with thought. Expressionists included Henri Matisse (1869-1954), Andre Derain (1880-1954) and Maurice de Vlaminck (1876-1958), who was proud to proclaim that he never had visited an art academy and he would never want to borrow anything from any one past or present. He also proudly declared he had never visited the Louvre but was happy to spend time in the Trocadero where African art was shown.
Artists like George Rouault (1871-1958), Edward Munch (1863-1944), Emil Nolde (1867-1956), Oskar Kokoschka (1886-1980), cried out against civilization, claiming "what we need are barbarians." Vassily Kandinsky (1866-1944), bragged, "I threw down the wall that encircled art." Francis Picabia (1878-1953), showed the movement of machines with his geometrical abstract constructions, initiating the futurist movement.
By 1914 the distorted, chaotic abstract ugly revolution was itself prophesizing the ugliness of the 20th Century. A century initiated with the First and Second World Wars. During the second half of the century another 50 million people were killed in smaller conflicts. No doubt, it was a barbaric century.
Cezanne was dead and the young London dealer D. H. Kahnweiler, had opened his famous gallery in Paris to promote cubism, which had began to be explored in 1907. Picasso had said that when he and Braque invented cubism, they had no intention of inventing it. At that moment they did not want to construct an anecdotic fact, but a pictorial fact.
By then the Modernist Church had accumulated the laws of its revolutionary art. The old art academy had given way to an anti-art academy. Artists wanted to go back to primitive times and therefore take their inspiration from primitive tribes. When Theodore Roosevelt learned this, he commented that if modernists wanted to find their inspiration in primitive times they should call themselves passé.
In July 1917, the first issue of Dada Magazine, edited by Tristan Tzara, was published in Zurich. Dada was against the abominable war. Faithful to their rebellion, the Dadaists organized a series of subversive art happenings in which they read newspaper cuts extracted from a hat at random while they made collages with them to show the social stupidity of every-day news. They were already saying that it was necessary to affirm the unconscious against the so called lucidity of consciousness.
Logical thought had led the world towards the calamities of the war in which millions of young boys had lost their lives. It had not occurred to them that not reason but unreason had caused the war; not logic but the lack of it had killed millions of boys. Marcel Duchamp was living in New York along with Picabia and Man Ray, where they had elevated to the category of art the common objects of life. Duchamp sent Fontaine, to the Show of Independents in New York in 1917; it was a public urinary upside down. They were considered by the Dadaists, their precursors.
Anti-art in the form of Dada was received with celebration in the country that was borne with "The rebels of George," the country that had made a commitment against all totalitarianism. If modern artists were against the totalitarianism of form, America was there to back them. Without the backing of the American corporation, without the defense of their critics, without the advertisement of their publicity, the modernist rebellion would have aged rapidly.
When the artists were called by Breton to integrate the surrealist group, the majority of them came from a modernist background.
Picasso did not become part of the Surrealist group but Breton loved his work and invited him to participate in many Surrealist exhibitions. Picasso was to become the critic's choice as the master of modernism in the 20th Century.
Dali was not the only artist in the Surrealist movement to paint Veristic Surrealism, as the contemporary American curator Michael S. Bell calls the type of Surrealism that faithfully represents the images of the subconscious. However, he was the only one who fought against the assault on artistry that the modernist movement represented. For that he was not forgiven by the Academy of Modernism and its throne in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Art always prophesizes the future discoveries of humankind. Impressionism started exploring form as light before Max Plank's quantum theory and Einstein's equation (E=MC2) showed us that matter is really congealed energy. The conscious mind is continually widened through the assimilation of previously unconscious knowledge, but before science can formulate in words and mathematical equations, art manifests in images these unconscious future knowledge.
The trend of evolution is a trend towards UNITY, an understanding that all matter is made up of one conscious energy. When this conscious energy first begins to materialize into the various forms that make up our material universe, the forms are not conscious of their unity. The end goal is to remain separate material forms that are conscious of their unity. Our will to unity has become destructive due to what Freud describes as the need to go back to the unconscious womb from which everything came into being. Embracing our unity within differentiation is the salvation of our time. It is no coincidence that psychology became a science when many of our compulsive infantile complexes were matched by our technological advances to become such a great threat to our survival as a species.
The modernist urge to keep fresh the child within would have been constructive if modern artists understood this urge as the need to be unconditioned by the doctrines of separation left over by biological evolution. An open mind into adulthood is necessary for transformation towards unity. The urge to see the geometry over the forms of nature is a tendency towards recognizing the underling unity of form. However, the rejection of academic teaching was in itself a rejection of science, since the knowledge of how to paint three dimensions on a two-dimensional canvas is a science. The rejection of science and reason was really a rejection made by egotism in order to keep the status quo of separation and ignorance. However, modern artists did not have enough powers of analysis to see this. For unity to succeed in the world, all personalities and groups of personalities have to unite with the universal. On the other hand, if this goal is not achieved, the path towards unity will be the path of destruction, because in that case, destruction will become man's urgency as represented in the canvases of the modernists.
The modernist urge to free art from literature was correct in that artists should be free to express their own vision, not just that of writers. However, that does not mean artists have to be freed from the science of painting to create the images to express their own intellectual and emotional natures. The modernist trend categorized any artist who wanted to continue to use the science of art as an illustrator.
This is the threat which Dali saw clearly and the reason why he went against Picasso and the modernist anti-art at the same time that he grew into an understanding of his own surrealist early work. Through his work Dali was able to see the dark side of man's subconscious and the "nuclear mysticism," which should characterize our time. The union of modern science and mysticism is the only way to rescue the world from the threat posed by modern science in the hands of our own demonic nature, which was producing atomic bombs, bacteriological warfare and ecological disaster.
Dali began to paint his mystical Visionary art work after the Second War World. Modern science without a union with mysticism would end up destroying the world leaving it much like the chaos of a Jackson Pollock painting, which Dali referred to in Dali on Modern Art as "the indigestion that goes with fish soup."
"The most transcendent discovery of our epoch," Dali said, "is that of nuclear physics regarding the constitution of matter... modern painting can and must proceed only from a single idea: the discontinuity of matter." Dali painted his melting clocks at the same time that he referred to modern art critics as "the dithyrambic critics of antiquated modern art" who hated classicism as a "self-respecting sewer rat."
Dali went on, "In order to remain attuned to the dithyrambic critics, painters dedicated themselves to the ugly. The more of it they turned out, the more modern they were. Picasso, who is afraid of everything, went in for the ugly because he was afraid of Bourguereau." (Bourguereau was a famous artist who died in 1905 and whose paintings were considered by modern artists the apex of conventionalism.) Modern art paintings were as ugly as mortal sins and Picasso, Dali proclaimed with his usual irony, "after having knifed Bourguereau half to death, was going to give the puntilla, (the last struck of death in bullfight parlance) and finish modern art at one blow by outuglying, alone, in a single day, the ugly that all others combined turned out in several years."
"At the algid moment of his greatest frenzy of ugliness, I sent Picasso the following telegram from New York," Dali wrote, "Pablo thanks! Your last ignominious paintings have killed modern art. But for you, with the taste and moderation that are the very virtues of French prudence, we should had painting that was more and more ugly, for at least one hundred years, before reaching your sublime adefesios esperpentos (Spanish for monstrosities). You, with all the violence of your Iberian anarchism, have achieved the limits and the final consequences of the abominable in a mere few weeks. And this you have done, as Nietzsche would have wished, by marking it with the seal of your own blood. Now all that remains for us is to turn our eyes once more to Raphael. God preserve you! ...But the dithyrambic critics of antiquated modern art remained and will long continue to remain prostatic and joyous with the ugly sitting on their knees."
In 1940, when Andre Breton arrived to New York, Dali proposed to him a new purpose for Surrealism, a new mystical movement to elevate the surrealist experiment. Dali understood that man could save himself in the Atomic age only by defeating his demonic nature in favor of his angelic nature. He had seen clearly that after the Second War World a Mystical Age had began to devour all the "isms" and that man was going to be forced to face the challenge to achieve his humanization. He saw his mission as that of molding the images of Atomic Mysticism in the supreme beauty of classicism. His work after the war initiated the Visionary Surrealist trend. After the Second War World, in his paintings Dali found the way towards the Archetypal wholeness that can help bring us to unity, but in his personal life he confused those universal symbols with the dogma of Catholicism. His desire for constructive endeavor as oppose to destructive one, Dali confused with Franco's regime. DNA discoveries made him interpret them as hinting to biological heredity and therefore backing government by a monarchic regime. These erroneous conclusions totally betrayed his early tendency towards democracy and as a communist sympathizer. With the strength of Dali's money security driven personality now gone, his work is free to speak for itself. It is time to reexamine the redeeming vision it offers despite him having lived in Franco's Spain and his sympathy for the despotic fascist. It did not help that the communists tortured his sister during the civil war and expelled his father from his house.
It was going to take the next generation of Veristic Surrealists, artists like Mariú, to take seriously Dali's Mystical Paranoiac Critical Method, and realize the importance of Archetypal psychology as advanced by James Hillman. Mariú realized that the subconscious level tends to become "pure psychic automatism," because interpretations of life are acted over and over again, generation after generation. The subconscious is the realm of memory, she asserts, and wrong memory patterns form images in the subconscious towards which energy flows easily. We reenact those patterns even when we realize they are not truthful or right because of the force of biological memory.
Mariú's book Beyond the Homo Sapiens, takes Andre Breton's and Dali's ambition—to understand the psyche—to the next level. In it she explores how individual consciousness has to make the effort to follow false memory patterns back to their archetypal source in order to make the archetype whole again. False interpretations of reality break the archetype, making it, as Jung said, into a shadow. This is why we must recognize the shadows in our minds in order to understand them. Everything in the subconscious—shadow emotions and opinions, along with truthful emotions and opinions—are images. For example, the heroic warrior is a shadow archetype of the universal need to wield the sword of judgment against the lies of separation with which our senses bombard us. We have taken the universal symbol for that struggle and made it into a cult of war and destruction.
Mariú delves into all our historical process in her book, beginning in pre-history to find the root of false memory patterns created by the wrong interpretations of reality made by our primitive minds. These are the same false patterns that are still stopping us from fulfilling our humanity. These are the memory patterns that are automatic in us. Truthful thinking has been helping us to move towards better activity patterns but we continue to fall over and over again into the well-worn false memory patterns of our common heredity.
Dali saw the need to analyze the images of the subconscious and this is why he felt that the artist should, like any paranoiac, allow the images of the subconscious to come to the surface and become conscious. The work of the new generation of Veristic Surrealists shows that the images of the unconscious are symbols. That means that each individual dresses the Archetype in a different symbol, although we can undress the individual representation of the symbol and find its universality.
Archetypes are dynamic forces of the subconscious; they dress themselves in the image of Father, Mother and Child, the most powerful symbols of the subconscious. Due to the biological evolutionary process, Mariú explains, these symbols have broken up into a myriad of negative masculine, feminine and child forces. We have to trace these broken shadow images back to their Archetypal Source to be able to act truthfully as individuals and societies; to create a spiritual pure psychic automatism with correct active memory patterns.
Dali knew that with the rejection of reason preached by the modernists, surrealists would not be able to grow into an understanding of the subconscious since this would end up in a depreciation of the power of intellect to comprehend truth. To him it was all a farce. "Completely idiotic critics have for several years used the name of Piet Mondrian as though he represented the sum mum of all spiritual activity. They quote him in every connection. Piet for architecture, Piet for poetry, Piet for mysticism, Piet for philosophy, Piet's whites, Piet's yellows, Piet, Piet, Piet... Well, I Salvador, will tell you this, that Piet with one i less would have been nothing but pet, which is the French word for fart."
The modernist American establishment had begun with the backing of Nelson Rockefeller. He had visited many an art gallery in his college years with his mother, who was already an important collector of modern art. The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York was founded in 1929 by Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, Nelson's mother, because the Metropolitan Museum of Art did not like modern art, and did not want to collect it. In 1930 after his graduation from college, he became a Junior Trustee of the new museum. The first exhibit presented by the MOMA was exclusively of European artists and Nelson was given the mission to find American artists.
The first call for artists gave Nelson and the Trustees a shock. They were appalled to see that much of the art that came in had strong political messages. For example, Us fellows gotta stick together — Al Capone, showed President Herbert Hoover, J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller and Al Capone having a good time together. The obvious meaning was that they were all criminals, and "good fellows" should stick together. The museum went ahead with the exhibit, but Nelson made sure there was little advertising and it was not well attended.
At the same time the Rockefeller Center was erected and Nelson was looking for an artist to paint a mural in the building with the theme "human intelligence in control of the forces of nature." Abby loved the work of Diego Rivera and advised her son to look for the Mexican muralist, a known communist, to give him the $21,000 commission.
In the 63-foot long mural, Rivera depicted the intelligence of man as Marx and Lenin, and the untamed forces of nature as the gonorrhea of capitalism. While the workers worked, society's men and women were getting drunk. Nelson was horrified with the mural, and on May 22, 1933, Nelson paid Rivera the balance of the commission and told him to leave. Within 30 minutes the mural was covered with tarpaper.
With this experience Nelson Rockefeller began his life as a censor of art concluding that art could be a propaganda force for ideas. He began sanitizing art by giving money only to abstract expressionist work, which would say nothing, and to art work that would be propaganda for capitalism and its values, like pop art and photographic realism. As modern art gained acceptance, other forms of art were dismissed as passˇ. Art books decreed Surrealism dead in 1945.
Nelson also became Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs during the Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, during War World II. He was given a budget of $150 million to create a propaganda agency in Latin America that would move them away from possible German influence. The North American companies placing ads in the Latin American media were given special tax exemptions and this became 40 percent of the media ads. Needless to say, only the papers and radio stations "willing to be guided" by the missionary hand of the North American patriarch, got the ads.
Under these circumstances, since 1945, most of the news that arrived to Latin America from Washington force-fed a diet of pre-approved photographs, editorials and articles. Eventually Rockefeller thus succeeded in making journalists into stenographers, stopping them from becoming independent investigators. He applied this useful lesson in the United States until art critics and American journalists in the mainstream media became nothing but stenographers and mouthpieces of North American corporations.
After the war, Dali became the number one enemy of the North American art establishment thanks to his constant attacks on modernism. The irony is that Picasso, who belonged to the Communist Party, was loved by the American Art Establishment, while Dali, who had begun as a Communist sympathizer ended up expelled from the Surrealist Movement at the suspicion that he was a fascist sympathizer. The painter had painted "The Enigma of Hitler" in 1937 with a small print of Hitler's face on a dish with some beans. He explained that he wanted to understand the phenomena of fascism and besides, he had a dream that compel him to represent it.
Most modern artists are progressive and have leftist leanings. By the 50's the Rockefeller forces and the artistic communist forces united against any art that said something because the anti-Stalinist American left did not want any representational art to back Soviet Stalinism. In one of history's greatest ironies the American left backed Rockefeller, one of the world's greatest capitalist and robber barons, in the establishment of modernism as THE only art, banishing any art that resembles classicism from the walls of established art circles, with the exception of pop art and photographic realism, which emphasize the glories of North American production and assembly line.
The greater glories of understanding the mind were put aside by the American and world modernist establishment. Dali's work has been dismissed with the accusation that he was a fascist. But the real war was against his style of thought-provoking, mystical classical work and the science of painting to which Dali contributed to all his life. Modern critics never understood that Dali's use of the double, triple and quintuple image in his canvasses are not just "optical trickery" as they dismissed it for, they are important additions to the science of art. Any way, no one seemed to mind that the one working with I.G. Farben and other German companies during the Second War World was Nelson Rockefeller, along with his cronies, men like Prescott Bush, the grand father of George W. Bush.
One of the reasons everything should be studied and understood, including the phenomena of fascism and the Hitler phenomena, is that it can happen before our own eyes and we have only our poor power of analysis to blame for it because the same forces that ended the democratic German experiment can end the democratic American experiment. Art's vision is an important ally in that analysis, which is all the more important now that our lack of care for Earth and its environmental unity may end the experiment, called mankind. Our toxic environment and our nuclear armament may well leave us all looking very much like a Picasso and Pollock canvas of abstract expressionism. In that sense the trend may prove itself prophetic.
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