Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Curtain

Has anyone else read Kundera's essay 'The Curtain'?
"No way around it: historical consciousness is so thoroughly inherent in our perception of art that this anachronism (a piece similar to Beethoven written by a contemporary today) would be spontaneously (that is, without the least hypocrisy) felt to be ridiculous, false, incongruous, even monstrous. Our feeling for continuity is so strong that it enters into the perception of any work of art."
It's such a relevant concept, the value of history and significance of original pieces. It's a really thoughtful read, and that reminds me of a recent post by Amy Stein, regarding a recurring theme in Italian Renaissance art of the myth of Leda and the Swan (Zeus takes the form of a swan, rapes Leda, and she gives birth to four sons, two of which are from Zeus and hatch from eggs). In short, she remarks on the eroticism of the classical depiction, "...Like being raped by a swan and giving birth to bastard egg children is the height of eroticism". Then she references how one of her photographs reminds her of what might have been a more authentic reaction of Leda. So essentially it's an historic motif being reinterpreted, which got me back to thinking about to Kundera's essay. I think it comes down, in reference to fine art, to imitation vs. expansion.

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