Osiris and Horus are coming back! Father and Son, devouring their enemies and putting Egypt back on top, for eternity. Isis will be with them; no holy family is complete without a strong woman. When, you ask? All we have to do is be pure of heart and patient … of course, two thousand years have passed and Horus is no longer needed, his influence diminished if not wiped out. A returning Osiris would witness himself replaced by a new divinity. Set would cry, “Check Mate” and Isis grumble “Men.”
Humans crave divine intervention. We plant the flag of our preferred faith and staunchly hold our ground. God(s) - descend to earth and put the holy beatdown on the assholes from the other team! And the other team thinks we’re assholes and beg their savior to kick our asses. The yin and yang of the universe: assholes against assholes! We’re incapable of solving our problems, so we call on the divine to intervene.
SUPERMAN WHERE ARE YOU?
Now science has replaced the divine. It makes our crops bountiful, heals our wounds, performs miracles, guides us out of the desert, and illuminates the mysteries of the universe. We ask science to protect us from our enemies and keep us safe, giving it our budgets and offering ourselves as sacrifices. We pay homage (and tuition) to its universities, hospitals, factories, and technology - seeking knowledge from its priests of intellect.
Science denies the divine, as each religion must refute all others. It must devour all other faiths and assimilate their beliefs. Science currently holds the throne of Truth; all powerful, all knowing - like Osiris in his prime.
Mondrian is too popular. Don’t get us wrong, we love his work. It’s easily consumed; his mastery and genius making color, shape, and line joyful. Eye candy! But Mondrian has taken over Trivium, and we’re not sure why. Mondrian gets more hits than Goya, Turner, Picasso, and VanGogh together. Our top three searches? Piet Mondrian in English, Russian, and Arabic. He’s 45% more popular than our second most popular artist: Turner.
WTF, Mondrian. WTF.
Mondrian’s haunted us for three months now, but we’ve got a theory explaining his popularity: Mondrian knew what he was doing. Obvious? It’s more complicated than it sounds. Mondrian is easy on the eyes; the world loves those black purposeful lines, the primacy of red, yellow, and blue, and contemplate what it all might mean. But it’s a perplexing simplicity - you sense a purpose but can’t put your finger on it. Historians may pontificate about the radical simplicity of modernism, but that’s irrelevant bullshit. Piet explained himself perfectly:
“Intense involvement with living things is involvement with death. If you follow nature, wrote Mondrian in 1920, you have to accept ‘whatever is capricious and twisted in nature’. If the capricious is beautiful, it is also tragic: ‘If you follow nature you will not be able to vanquish the tragic to any real degree in your art. It is certainly true that naturalistic painting makes us feel a harmony which is beyond the tragic, but it does not express this in a clear and definite way, since it is not confined to expressing relations of equilibrium. Let us recognise the fact once and for all: the natural appearance, natural form, natural colour, natural rhythm, natural relations most often express the tragic … We must free ourselves from our attachment to the external, for only then do we transcend the tragic, and are enabled consciously to contemplate the repose which is within all things.’
Hate reading between the lines? Here’s our guess - Mondrian tried to transcend the natural and the physical, diving into the Spiritual.
Most people geek out about something. We geek out about art history, and the overwhelming nature of how much damn art there is! So when we come across a great article defending the role of art history in society we get side-tracked from our tagging and cataloging.
Virginia Postrel writes in defense of the Art History major, which seems to have replaced English as the butt of society’s jokes. Right-on Virginia. We’re admittedly biased, but picking on the liberal arts as not contributing to society is perplexing! Society seems to enjoy, support, and participate in culture. Society is culture hungry! Yet the liberal arts, which incubate curiosity and evolve culture, are regarded as a frivolous use of college education?
Measuring the value of education by job placement is myopic. A college degree does not equate a better-than-average salary, it develops critical thinking, encourages creativity, and supports curiosity. Education should be motivated by an expansive facination with life, not economic fear.
How and why did art history become so dang important? More to come but we’re stewing on this here at Trivium.
Is Van Gogh really important? Maybe we’re wrong about Van Gogh and the art heroes the canon of art has pimped as the granddaddies of art since the beginning of time. What have we missed, who have we missed, what can we do about it, how should we think, where and when has art history straight out lied to us?
Be back once we’ve wrapped our brains around it.