From Monstrosity To Tragedy

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2017-08-09 23:00:00 No comments

T.J. Clark · Picasso and Tragedy · LRB 17 August 2017

I doubt that an artist of Picasso’s sort ever raises his or her account of humanity to a higher power simply by purging, or repressing, what had been dangerous or horrible in an earlier vision. There must be a way from monstrosity to tragedy. The one must be capable of being folded into the other, lending it aspects of the previous vision’s power.

Emphasis mine.

Constant readers will be familiar by now with my notion of the Endurance Test Philosophy Of Art: If it doesn't scar you or make you want to puke, it isn't "real" art, because "real" art has IMPACT!!! Or something along those lines. It's twaddle, but it's the sort of twaddle that is easy to make a case for, easy to subscribe to, and easy to find plenty of allegedly valid examples of.

Reading the above essay made me realize why the poverty of such an aesthetic isn't easy to see at first, even for people who are halfway with-it. If something makes us feel pain, it's easy to interpret that as a feeling of tragedy. We look at the fact that something could wound us as evidence of its power to be moving and tragic, and thus profound. Pain feels like a bridge from monstrosity to tragedy.

Well, maybe. But something else has to be there, too, besides just the gratuitous inflicting of injury on the audience. Some humor, some zest for life outside of whatever is legitimized by agony, some flair. Even Merzbow has his quiet moments.

Tags: Pablo Picasso art artists tragedy