Notebook, 1993-

APPROACHES - In The Words Of . . . .

From: Ferrier, Jean-Louis, Director and Yann le Pichon, Walter D. Glanze [English Translation]. Art of Our Century, The Chronicle of Western Art, 1900 to the Present. New York: Prentice-Hall Editions. 1988.

Elie Faure

The Spirit of Forms
1927 - Writings and Theories

For those who seek in the world of forms a general architecture that draws a powerful poetic aspect from functional logic, obvious analogies are all that is needed. Poussin, like Homer before him, saw the trunk of a palm tree in the torso of a young woman and compared it to the columns of the Maison Carrée of Nímes. Delacroix made similar observations with regard to trees, leaves, and patterns made by water in the sand. The Ecrits de Carrière include a very informative lecture on this matter, given at the Galerie Ostéologique of the Museum, where the bare skeletons of animals appear., Observe the harmonious construction of each of them, the bones moving in their sockets, bony levers being pulled by weight or by the movement of muscles, the intricate interweavings and pivots of the vertebrae, the pelvis vessel that carries the intestines, the consistency of the bony framework entrusted with the task of balancing and transmitting pressure, and all this apparatus being lifeless matter, but so animated by imperceptible functional processes serving the purpose of Walking, grasping, chewing, flying, swimming, and maintaining the profound and elastic movements of the heart and lungs. Compare all the varieties present in this forest of skeletons, from the most gigantic dinosaurs before the Deluge to the smallest reptile or bird. Discover the same forms and proportions within the shell protecting this monster as huge as an oak tree and this minuscule insect no larger than a bud . . .

Universal form is built on a single basis. It can be discovered anywhere. Poor indeed is the one who, for example, fails to see in a human or animal skull not only a well-ordered countryside with hills and valleys, rivers, internal movements, geological unity, and rhythm, but also a perfect sculpture with its asymmetrical balance, its silent planes, its fleeting lines, its expressive projections, and its sinuous and pure profiles. And when man and his devices appear on the Earth, is it by chance that his weapon is similar to an animal's horn or defensive appendage? . . . Is it by chance that a submarine resembles a fish, that an airplane resembles a bird or a giant insect, that a boiler or a sewer resembles a person's entrails, that a motor resembles a beating heart? . . . There is between the mind and the motives that are constantly shaping and drawing it to seek nourishment and security, a prevailing and benign view that intelligence picks up where imitation of an object leaves off, and that invention ends where the object is forgotten. Tintoretto's outline of Paradise, where everything is living forms, resembles the mind just as much as the Parthenon or an automobile, where everything is abstract formulas. Elie Faure, The Spirit of Forms [Excerpts] . . . . The Spirit of Forms is the final volume of the famous History of Art, a crowning achievement for Elie Faure. But whereas most of the History follows the centuries in chronological order, jumping from civilization to civilization and bringing the continents together, this final volume touches upon the heart of artistic creation. The author compares the metallic structure of the Eiffel Tower to the flying buttresses of Notre Dame, a tortoise shell to the Freyssinenet dirigible hangars at Orly airport in Paris. In these passages, art is seen as having arisen with the dawn of life itself.

[An Exerpt From: Ferrier, Jean-Louis, Director and Yann le Pichon, Walter D. Glanze [English Translation]. Art of Our Century, The Chronicle of Western Art, 1900 to the Present. New York: Prentice-Hall Editions. 1988. p. 265]



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