Panorama view of exhibition in Jedlitschka Gallery, Zurich.

Panorama view of exhibition in Jedlitschka Gallery, Zurich.

06 December 2017

Dr Great Art Podcast Episode 26: Artists Create New Metaphors to Live By


My newest Dr Great Art podcast, Episode 26: Artists Create New Metaphors to Live By
My Artecdote this episode is the an explanation of my assertion that "Artists Create New Metaphors to Live By." Under the inspiration of Lakoff, Johnson and Turner's Cognitive Metaphor Theory, I describe my assertion that artists create for themselves new metaphors to live by, by creating new metaphors to create with, which viewers can then also use to think with and live by. This I refer to as artists’ metaphor(m)s or central tropes.
http://drgreatart.libsyn.com/episode-26-artists-create-new-metaphors-to-live-by #arthistory #metaphor #cognitivemetaphor

his is the script (not a transcript, as I change elements when recording).

Dr Great Art Podcast 26


------------------------ 
 
Hi this is Mark Staff Brandl, with the 26th "Dr Great Art" brief podcast. I hope you enjoy it and come back for each and every one.

Today my Artecdote is the an explanation of my assertion that Artists Create New Metaphors to Live By

Under the inspiration of Lakoff, Johnson and Turner's Cognitive Metaphor Theory, years ago, I made the personal discovery which was the foundation of my dissertation, many articles, much of my art, and many podcasts here. This is, that artists create for themselves new metaphors to live by, by creating new metaphors to create with, which viewers can then also use to think with and live by. This I refer to as artists’ metaphor(m)s (spell) or central tropes.

Much of the highly imaginative work of discovering their metaphor(m)s is accomplished by artists through what Lakoff and Turner term an "image-mapping." However, these authors at first undervalued this discovery, describing image-mappings as "more fleeting metaphors," in the book More than Cool Reason. They assert that "the proliferation of detail in the images limits image-mappings to highly specific cases." By contrast, they find "image-schema mappings" less detailed and more useful in reasoning.

Image schemas generally rely on an abstracted sense of space and vision, yet can also be grounded in sound, others senses or even in cross-sensory, synaesthetic perceptions. They can often be described with prepositions or simple directionality: out, inside, from, along, up-down, front-back, etc. Something like spatial diagrams for action.

In the arts, both these image-metaphor activities shade into one another along a vast spectrum of possibilities. It must be said, that both of these authors expanded their study of visual mapping in following books. Notably, Lakoff intensified his investigation of visual art in his pioneering essay "The Neuroscience of Form in Art," in the book The Artful Mind, edited by Mark Turner. In his contribution, Lakoff reflects on Rudolf Arnheim, form as metaphor and presents the theory of "cogs" to explain this. Cogs are neural circuits, involving mirror neurons, which ordinarily perform motor control, but additionally can register and structure observation. Image schemas and force-dynamic schemas are presented as potential cognitive explanations of the application of cogs to reasoning.

I believe image-mappings are purposefully interwoven by artists into this structure of inferences as well. Furthermore, Turner's entire conception of cognitive integration and blending offers an excellent account of how metaphor(m)s are brought into being. The principal book on that theory is The Way We Think: Conceptual Blending and the Mind's Hidden Complexities by Gilles Fauconnier and Turner.

Because of its proliferation of details, image-mapping provides a bonanza of abundance necessary for mining new metaphors, thus making it very important in literature and visual art, FAR more consequential than often imagined.

The operation of image-mapping is simple to describe. A mental picture is projected in the mind's eye onto another "target" image. For example, envision matching the appearance of a tree to that of a woman. Her litheness as she stands slowly moving in the breeze is dramatically foregrounded in this process, --- brought to the reader's attention. Creators structurally, often visually, pursue this reasoning within the confines --- or better said, using the treasure chest of --- their media and genre. They find potential meaning in either projecting an image onto a formal element or finding schemas adequate for use which are natural characteristics of a formal element. This is described more precisely in my dissertation, where the creative process of conceiving central tropes is delineated in detail. A few examples will suffice for now.

Simply whether a sculptural form emphasizes verticality or horizontality is a rich source of possible image schemas or image-mappings. For instance, perhaps the piece is vertical and building-like. Therefore, it is more "up" than "down," linking it to all the foundational metaphors of UP: GOOD IS UP, HAPPY IS UP, etc. Depending on the composition, perhaps the piece is vertical, yet stresses its downward movement. This would elicit metaphors of DOWN. Another example: Long, winding sentences could be seen as matching the experience of taking a leisurely journey. Image-mapping consists in conducting a kind of "sampling" of the world of experience. It does not, therefore, have to be only a visual one, although I believe it generally is. It might be based in one of the other senses, or as our culture becomes increasingly multimedial, it might be based on a combination of sensory impressions.

"New metaphors are mostly structural," according to Lakoff and Johnson, in the book Metaphors We Live By. For artists, the structure of form and the structure of desired meaning (i.e., content) are functions of one another. When an image-mapping is solidly rooted in structural similarity, Lakoff and Turner refer to it as "iconic."

This is, in general, what iconicity in language is: a metaphorical image-mapping in which the structure of the meaning is understood in terms of the structure of the form of the language presenting that meaning. Such mappings are possible because of the existence of image-schemas, such as schemas characterizing bounded spaces (with interiors and exteriors), paths, motions along those paths, forces, parts and wholes, centers and peripheries, and so on.

Therefore, metaphor(m)s are often iconic image-mappings or image schemas raised to life-determining power, Weltbestimmung through Weltanschauungen. To return to my preferred metaphor of painting, here I have reached what painters refer to as their style or approach.

The second of these terms is often preferred by creators because in common-use the term style has been debased, signifying nothing more than individual, characteristic forms of expression without content or thought --- habitual, unconscious quirks also referred to as tics. True style is much more than this. The linguistic field of stylistics shows how rich the concept can be. While such study has chiefly been carried out on literature in books such as The Concept of Style, it has exciting implications for the visual arts as well. Style is the distinctive, personal mode of production and expression of an artist which is visibly unique to his or her work: ones individualistic, intellectually and emotionally-charged mechanics of embodying meaning. (In the case of my own art this becomes more of a modus operandi, as the term is used by police to describe a criminal’s characteristic way of committing a crime, rather than a stable series of representational choices.)

Cognitive metaphor theory proffers a mode of thinking which can be applied to the analysis and creation of art, while accentuating the efforts of the makers of these objects. After the object-only orientation of Formalism, after the medium-only focus of Deconstruction, this may lead to a feeling of liberation, of agency. Oh no, the "A" word! Nevertheless, this is a theory which brings with it a new sense of the burden of the past. Whereas the Academicists were trapped in an illusionary past, Formalist Modernists felt dilusorily free from the past and the Deconstructivist Postmodernists are endlessly tangled in an inescapable present, artists as viewed through cognitive metaphor theory are directly responsible for fashioning their own tropes through the processes of extension, elaboration, composition and/or questioning. This they accomplish in and through the formal parameters of their work, with enough cultural coherence to be able to communicate, but enough originality to be significant. Important tropes cannot merely be selected from a list; they are discovered and built out of revisions of cultural possibilities, in fact, fought for and won in creative work.

Metaphor, as Lakoff and Johnson explained, is a fundamental mechanism of thought, one that allows us to use physical and social experience to understand other objects and events. Such metaphors therefore structure our most crucial understandings of our experience, they are "metaphors we live by, " often shaping our perceptions and actions without our ever noticing them. However, we can concentrate on them, notice them, and actively seek to improve our understanding through them. This occurs usually through the arts, wherein we discover new vantage points on our experiences. Therefore, artists create NEW metaphors to live by!

Artists Create New Metaphors to Live By!

Thanks for listening. Podcast number 26.

Again, thanks for the recent huge upsurge in listeners, by many thousands! Thanks to Salon.com for recommending my podcast as a great art history one. If you enjoy my podcasts, please go to Apple podcasts and give me 5 stars and a recommendation! It helps others find this podcast. Additionally, if you have any questions or requests for topics, please feel free to contact me with them! I'd truly enjoy covering them!

If you wish to hear more cool, exciting and hopefully inspiring stuff about art history and art, come back for more. Also I, Dr Mark Staff Brandl, artist and art historian, am available for live custom Performance-Lectures. In English und auf Deutsch.

I take viewers inside visual art and art history. Entertainingly, yet educationally and aesthetically, I analyze, underline, and discuss the reasons why a work of art is remarkable, or I go through entire eras, or indeed through the entirety of art history, or look at your desired theme through the lens of art history. The lectures often take place with painted background screens and even in my painting-installations.

Some recent ones were on the entire history of Postmodernist Art from 1979 through today, on Metaphor(m) in Art History, on Mongrel Art, and on Women in Art. Once again, I'd like to thank Chloe Orwell, Brad Elvis, and the rock band the Handcuffs for composing, performing and recording my theme song, "Shut Up and Paint," a tiny portion of which begins and ends every Dr Great Art Podcast.

You can find or contact me at

www.drgreatart.com/ (spell)

book me at www.mirjamhadorn.com (spell)

or find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, all as Dr Great Art. 

Dr Great Art Podcast Episode 25: Exhibition Comics and Iconosequentiality





The newest Dr Great Art podcast. Episode 25: Exhibition Comics and Iconosequentiality in Art
A new artistic development: Exhibition Comics and a new compositional form: Iconosequentiality.
http://drgreatart.libsyn.com/episode-24-exhibition-comics-and-iconosequentiality-in-art
#arthistory #comics #composition

This is the script (not a transcript, as I change elements when recording).

Dr Great Art Podcast 25

------------------------



Hi this is Mark Staff Brandl, with the 25th "Dr Great Art" brief podcast. I hope you enjoy it and come back for each and every one.

Today my Artecdote is the introduction of two somewhat newer terms in art: 'exhibition (or gallery) comics' and 'iconosequentiality.'

A New Artistic Development: Exhibition Comics and A New Compositional Form: Iconosequentiality.

Artist and theorist Christian Hill has created a new term to give a clear identity to a new artistic phenomenon. The appellation is gallery comics. I have revised this to exhibition comics. The second expression, iconosequentiality, is my own creation for a compositional form within comics and fine art.

Hill, a French-American artist living in California explains gallery comics as "artworks using the formal structures of comics to create pieces that are intended to be viewed in the context of a gallery or museum or Kunsthalle or other (fine) art space" --- whether hanging on a wall (a la painting), sitting on the floor (a la sculpture) or as an installation (a la – well, you get it). "A gallery comic is not necessarily, or at least not exclusively, meant to be read left to right, top to bottom."

This idea of gallery comics is open to a variety of applications, from Hill's own clearly comic-derived, fairly narrative works; to Andrei Molotiu or Mathieu Baillif's (aka Ibn al Rabin's) abstract comics; or my own painting-installation works. Thus, these artworks are: sequential, or quasi-sequential works which both can be read like a book and comfortably viewed as a gallery/museum work. So not exclusively linear, albeit sequential.

I find the term gallery comics itself a bit too limiting, and as galleries appear to be dying anyway, I have changed the nomenclature to "exhibition comics."

Now we come to our second newly-minted word, my own iconosequentiality. This is my neologism, for the unique combination of forms of phenomenological perception in comics --- and my art.

In comics as we know them, viewers frequently perceive both the entire page as an iconic unit, similar to a traditional painting, and simultaneously follow the flow of narrative or images from panel to panel, left to right, up to down. A page is often thus concurrently whole/part and openly linear (even multi-linear with the possibility one has to glance "backwards" and "forwards" if desired, while reading).

Such a work is therefore ontologically as well as phenomenologically both iconic and sequential. Aesthetic attention becomes a wonderfully anti-purist conceptually mongrel blend of, or perhaps flickering between, a rich variety of forms of reading and viewing, most of which are under the control of the perceiver. The ultimate hyper-text/hyper-image united with the joys of an image's patient always-there, self-reliant presence.

This is not a reiteration, by the way, of Werner Hofmann's iconostase, (ee-cono-staz) in French, which would be iconostasis (Ei-con-Os-tasis; or iconoSTAsis) in English. While originally meaning the wall of icons and religious paintings separating the nave from the sanctuary in an orthodox church, this notion, as applied by Andrei Molotiu to comics, describes the phenomenon where pages of sequential storytelling occasionally "freeze" into tableaus of panels that make a rather unified whole.

This occurrence is unquestionably the source of inspiration for what I am proposing, yet is almost the mirror image of what I seek to describe. In iconostasis there is a natural progression which has been slowed down, even stopped, often almost by accident, for aesthetic appreciation. Iconosequential work is the conscious, active, creative use of the marriage of iconicity and sequentiality as a visual stratagem, a "speeding up" if you will. These ideas in practice of course overlap, however the clearest simple examples I can describe would be wonderfully composed pages of panels in Steve Ditko's Spider-Man, iconostasis, as compared to Frank King's famous Sunday strips of the children playing at a house building site, iconosequentiality. Those delightfully choreographed pages of struggle drawn by Jack Kirby seem to fall in-between.

Finally, this is not really the same as the medieval paintings wherein various "adventures" of Jesus or a saint, for example, are scattered across a painting. These works are not generally genuinely sequential, usually, more haphazard, and certainly not using any implied panels or closure, both of which I feel are necessary to be comics, and for the joy of an iconosequential work.

Noticing and using such a new compositional form is important, if not for personal utilization then at least for debate. In addition to a blanket ignorance of the complexities of vernacular and popular art forms, one of the detriments in the fine-art world of the recent past has been the slow-but-steady erosion of knowledge about and interest in painting. Such blindspots have resulted in an attendant attrition of awareness of some startling accomplishments in method and thought in those disciplines, especially painting.

Composition IS important. The agonistic struggle to achieve new types, even if they are at first seemingly rather small alterations. The history of changes in composition shows this --- transformation is crucial, not due to any supposed development of "significant form" or due to a blinkered view of some march of history, but for personal and cultural metaphoric use.

From the conceptual hierarchies of early art, to the overlapping levels of Medieval art, from the Golden Rectangle and Triangle of the Renaissance, to Mannerist routines, from the Baroque spiral-into-space, to Rococo curlicues, from Neo-Classical and Romantic asymmetry, to the shocking yet "relational" composition of early abstraction, from the all-over of Pollock, to unitary Pop and Minimalist form, from Neo-Platonic yet temporal Conceptual art systems, to the environmental envelopment of installation, to now — the tackling of the practical and philosophical problems of composition in art (especially painting) has been an impatient, vital, combative struggle.

Let me emphasize, anti-Formalistically, that this endeavor to forge new compositional tools is important not in order to simply form novel conventions, but to move on to distinctive organizational structures, new tropes useful for the embodiment of arisen desires.

And now more than ever, we need methods reaching beyond the affected Duchampianesque maniere of Postmodernism so far; one for our new critical anti-purism. Iconosequentiality could be the central compositional trope we need. The new "working space" for which Frank Stella has called.

How and Why, concretely? Such a factor determines the specific modes of attention which visual art now needs and which make such works potentially far more radically liberating in form than many traditional or even most so-called new media.

Iconosequentiality has the inherent predisposition to be tropaically democratic. It is also a step beyond Pollock's revolutionary "overall" composition, while embracing that discovery, as well as its child, installation, and not retreating to relational balancing games or Neo-Conceptual "readymade" knock-offs, both of which stipulate hierarchical metaphors I find repulsive.

Exhibition comics and iconosequentiality offer fresh arenas for individual development.

Exhibition Comics and Iconosequentiality!

Thanks for listening. Podcast number 25.

Thanks for the recent huge upsurge in listeners, by many thousands! Thanks to Salon.com for recommending my podcast as a great art history one. If you enjoy my podcasts, please go to iTunes / Apple podcasts and give me 5 stars and a recommendation! It helps others find this podcast. Additionally, if you have any questions or requests for topics, please feel free to contact me with them! I'd truly enjoy covering them!

If you wish to hear more cool, exciting and hopefully inspiring stuff about art history and art, come back for more. Also I, Dr Mark Staff Brandl, artist and art historian, am available for live custom Performance-Lectures. In English und auf Deutsch.

I take viewers inside visual art and art history. Entertainingly, yet educationally and aesthetically, I analyze, underline, and discuss the reasons why a work of art is remarkable, or I go through entire eras, or indeed through the entirety of art history, or look at your desired theme through the lens of art history. The lectures often take place with painted background screens and even in my painting-installations.

Some recent ones were on the entire history of Postmodernist Art from 1979 through today, on Metaphor(m) in Art History, on Mongrel Art, and on Women in Art. Once again, I'd like to thank Chloe Orwell, Brad Elvis, and the rock band the Handcuffs for composing, performing and recording my theme song, "Shut Up and Paint," a tiny portion of which begins and ends every Dr Great Art Podcast.

You can find or contact me at

www.drgreatart.com/ (spell)

book me at www.mirjamhadorn.com (spell)

or find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, all as Dr Great Art.

03 November 2017

Dr Great Art Podcast Episode 24: MIA Marietta Tintoretta



The new Dr Great Art Podcast! Episode 24:
An artist who greatly needs to be rediscovered. Not only her name, but her works! Marietta Tintoretta. The daughter of Jacopo Rubusti, aka Tintoretto. Renowned as a great artist in her time, the Late Renaissance, now disappeared.
http://drgreatart.libsyn.com/episode-24-mia-marietta-tintoretta
--------------------

This is the script (not a transcript, as I change elements when recording).

Dr Great Art Podcast 24

------------------------
MIA: Marietta Tintoretta

Hi this is Mark Staff Brandl, with the 24th "Dr Great Art" brief podcast. I hope you enjoy it and come back for each and every one.

Today my Artecdote is about an artist who greatly needs to be rediscovered. Not only her NAME but her works! Marietta Tintoretta.

Marietta Robusti (1560? – 1590) was a Venetian painter of the Late Renaissance period. She was the daughter of Tintoretto, one of my favorite artists. She is sometimes referred to as Tintoretta.
Marietta Robusti died when she was thirty during child birth, as so many of the women of that time did. She was the eldest daughter of the painter Jacopo Robusti, whose nickname was 'Tintoretto,' "the little dyer" after his father’s occupation as a tintore, or dyer of cloth. This nickname according to legend was an insult from Titian, the superstar of Venetian painting. Although Tintoretto was the best artist influenced by Titian of the next generation, the older and far more successful Titian seems to have been petty-minded, perhaps even envious, of Tintoretto and even worked behind his back to interfere with him winning competitions and the like. Ah, the artworld now and then are often similar!

Back to his daughter --- she is variously known as Marietta Robusti, Marietta Tintoretto, and la Tintoretta. Her mother apparently died young, and is of unknown, perhaps German heritage. Marietta was followed by three brothers and four sisters from her father's second love and first legal wife, Faustina Episcopi, her step-mother.

The primary source mentioning Marietta Robusti's life is Carlo Ridolfi's Life of Tintoretto, first published in 1642, although she is mentioned briefly in Raffaelo Borghini’s Il Riposo della Pitura e della Scultura of 1584.

Marietta's artistic training seemingly consisted of serving an apprenticeship in the collaborative environment of her father’s workshop, something that was largely illegal at the time for women (as those who have listened to my Dr Great Art Episode Nr. 1 know). She appears from records to have had a close, loving relationship with her father, who was devastated by her early death. As a child, he dressed her like a boy so that she could go everywhere with him and receive the illegal apprenticeship training with little notice.

Marietta was known to have been extremely talented. It is claimed she contributed to her father’s paintings with backgrounds, figure blocking, and so on as usual for apprentices, but later became his favorite assistant. And that, might I add was NOT hidden then, but rather proclaimed. Carlo Ridolfi stated, she was one of the most illustrious women of her time.

In her father's studio, as was the case with all workshops of that time, altarpieces and the like were all put under the name of the master (her father here), to earn more money, yet the assistants were not hidden. Our conception of the single work made by a single artist is very much one coming of Modernism. Renaissance and Baroque artists looked at it how we conceive of filmmaking. And with an open, sliding scale of prices for panel paintings depending on how much the master was involved.
Both Emperor Maximilian and King Philip II of Spain expressed interest in hosting her as a court painter, but her father refused their invitations on her behalf. It is said he did so because he couldn’t bear to part with her, but it may have been to protect her as well. In 1578 she married a Venetian jeweller and silversmith, Jacopo Augusta.

The only painting that can NOW be conclusively attributed to Marietta Robusti is her Self Portrait (c. 1580; Uffizi Gallery, Florence). This portrait depicts Marietta posed before a harpsichord, holding a musical text that has been identified as a madrigal.

There are other attributions as well, but this is an area of art history that DRASTICALLY needs to be worked on.

There is, by the way, an excellent, relatively new, novel of historical fiction concerning Marietta Tintoretta, titled Tintorettos Engel, by Melania G. Mazzucco, available only in German and Italian, but I hope in English soon too. I read it in German and thoroughly enjoyed it
.
What happened to most of her work if she were indeed so well-known as it seems? Maybe reattributed. Her achievements have probably been concealed under the success and fame of her father. First, as almost no works were signed at this time by any artist, paintings that earlier everyone knew were by Tintoretto, his daughter and even his son Marco together (apparently the second best apprentice after Marietta), through time became only known as Tintorettos --- both due to forgetfulness and the desire to make the provenance easier and values higher. Tintoretto himself after all has gone through waves of appreciation and neglect as well. Perhaps that is true of individual Tintoretta works as well that were FULLY by her, yet now hang in museums under daddy's name! She had his style, as was recorded at the time, yet was also unique in many ways. Once again, I call for courageous young art historians to take on this subject and attempt to do the research and connoisseurship necessary to rediscover her works, which likely are hidden in broad daylight!

MIA: Marietta Tintoretta!

Thanks for listening. Podcast number 24.

Thanks for the recent huge upsurge in listeners, by many thousands! Thanks to Salon.com for recommending my podcast as a great art history one. If you enjoy my podcasts, please go to iTunes / Apple podcasts and give me 5 stars and a recommendation! It helps others find this podcast. Additionally, if you have any questions or requests for topics, please feel free to contact me with them! I'd truly enjoy covering them!
If you wish to hear more cool, exciting and hopefully inspiring stuff about art history and art, come back for more. Also I, Dr Mark Staff Brandl, artist and art historian, am available for live custom Performance-Lectures. In English und auf Deutsch.
I take viewers inside visual art and art history. Entertainingly, yet educationally and aesthetically, I analyze, underline, and discuss the reasons why a work of art is remarkable, or I go through entire eras, or indeed through the entirety of art history, or look at your desired theme through the lens of art history. The lectures often take place with painted background screens and even in my painting-installations.
Some recent ones were on the entire history of Postmodernist Art from 1979 through today, on Metaphor(m) in Art History, on Mongrel Art, and on Women in Art. Once again, I'd like to thank Chloe Orwell, Brad Elvis, and the rock band the Handcuffs for composing, performing and recording my theme song, "Shut Up and Paint," a tiny portion of which begins and ends every Dr Great Art Podcast.

You can find or contact me at
or find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, all as Dr Great Art.

16 October 2017

Dr Great Art Podcast Episode 23: Genius in Art

The new Dr Great Art Podcast! Episode 23: Genius in Art! The concept of "genius" in art has rightly been criticized for its sexism, exaggeration and more. However, it is possible to retain its useful aspects by redefining it as the level of achieved pervasiveness of an artist's metaphor(m).
http://drgreatart.libsyn.com/episode-23-genius-in-art #arthistory


--------------------

This is the script (not a transcript, as I change elements when recording).

Dr Great Art Podcast 23



Genius in Art

Hi this is Mark Staff Brandl, with the 23rd "Dr Great Art" brief podcast. I hope you enjoy it and come back for each and every one.

Today my Artecdote is a discussion of a new version of the old notion of "genius" in art.

What about genius? In the last few decades, there has been a justified critique of stodgy notions of the term genius. The 2009 Encyclopedia of Feminist Literary Theory (edited by Elizabeth Kowaleski-Wallace) asserts that the "concept [of genius] is tied to gender and power in ways that cause problems for women." Furthermore, stating that "Romantic, Victorian and Modernist artists claimed that only 'geniuses' produced 'great art’ and that only a man could be a 'genius.' However, in practice they defined 'great art' in contrast with the art of women and others who were labeled 'inferior.'"

This is indeed true. Artists presenting themselves as geniuses can even be practicing purposeful subterfuge. Michelangelo destroyed notes and sketches, as suggested by Vasari, to further public opinion that he was a direct, divinely inspired (not slowly maturing) genius.

However, even if 'genius' makes us squirm, causing many to deny it, deconstruct it, or explain it away, the term still has much truth in it, IF we examine it closely, even to the point of redefinition. In fact, we can contribute a new concept of "genius," based on the pervasive use of ones metaphor(m). That is what I will do in this podcast.

As I have written in a previous articles and my PhD dissertation, I find most art, but particularly paintings and novels to be quintessentially antithetical. They incorporate, use and criticize. They have achieved a condition of being perpetually "genres undermined." Painting and the novel are artistic disciplines and forms which have a history of sabotaging themselves. They are in a constant state of crisis. This makes them fertile ground for the application of my metaphor(m) theory and for testing the broadness of the extended text concept. I have stated this in the odd passive construction so common to art critics, speaking of what "painting" or "the novel" does, when clearly that is a metonymy --- it is painters and authors who do things, not any generalized abstractions like "painting." What the creators do then exists embodied in paintings and novels. Painters and novelists are deeply involved in a dialogue with and against the past.

What is this "agon"? It is a concept borrowed from Harold Bloom, yet one I have radically adapted. Let me quote Bloom from Agon: Towards a Theory of Revisionism:

"...I cite again the Emersonian difference, which is to say, the American difference: a diachronic rhetoric, set not only against past tropes, as in Nietzsche, but against the pastness of trope itself, and so against the limitations of traditional rhetoric."

I would purport that in our period this is the condition of the awake perceiver everywhere. Bloom's insight is deep, and it is Emersonian, but by no means is this limited to one country, to the US, as he presumes.

The pastness of trope must be wrestled with and overcome. Each artist must struggle with his or her daemon, who is the angel, who is the attendant spirit (from Latin, genius), perhaps even genie: the precursor, god (small 'g') and self. Space is fought for and won with hard work and thought, not avoided with new toys incorporating dead ideas. This ineffable spar is the only way to occupy the ground of the other, finally creating one's own space. What one finds is ones metaphor(m).

A reminder of what my "metaphor(m)" concept is.

Metaphor(m) is a theory of trope in visual art, which I call "metaphor(m)" or "central trope." My thesis is that the formal, technical and stylistic aspects of creators' approaches concretely manifest content in culturally and historically antithetical ways through a particular trope, what we commonly call a "metaphor." Creators are granted agency. Artists seek to discover and construct a central trope of form in a dialectical, even dialogical, circle of testing and understanding. This process allows them to express their desires, both those willed and those revealed by the trope. The term metaphor(m) (spell) is a pun; it describes the core of the theory --- that such tropes are both metaphoric and meta-formal. For creators, artistic value is grounded in form, the way a work is made and its technical aspects. Yet, turning Formalism on its head, these attributes in themselves are significant due to their meta-properties as conceptual tools and modus operandi involving context, tropaic content and cultural struggle. My theory is grounded in scholarship on conceptual metaphor.

It can be perceived that the pervasive use of metaphor(m) is the test of the truly forceful creator. In this, we can contribute a new concept of "genius." Rather than being seen as some kind of transcendentally inspired originality, genius can be correlated with the attainment of enveloping discernment, through the transformational power of the metaphor(m).

Genius becomes the inspiration to all-pervasiveness, infusing the insight ("genie") of central trope in the entire thinking-experiential process.

In a similar vein of reasoning, "pervasiveness" replaces the inadequate concept of "unity." The now thread-worn discussions of "unity in diversity" and the like were never sufficient, especially after Modernism, for the lived experience of what artists attempt in the composition of artworks. The idea of "unity" connotes something feeble, almost expended, when seen as a goal and as it is often taught in art schools, primarily in Bauhaus-derived explanations of relational balancing. In the place of such entropy, the theory of central trope suggests a substitution: "comprehensiveness," the attempted-for omnipresence of one's guiding vision, a dynamic fullness.

For example, it seems evident that Jan van Eyck's detailed rendering is not merely a new formal discovery used for its novelty alone. His style uses the dynamism of seeming opposition to energize an integrated vision of life. His realism serves to draw in viewers, suggest transcendence, and justify the individuality of persons and objects with the essence of God. His light is physical, yet does not dissolve; rather, it crystallizes visible reality, being in no way mysterious or overwhelming as in the medieval art before him. Yet the spiritual essence of God would appear to have little to do with a powerfully material world. In this, and other elements, we see that Jan van Eyck is a highly complex painter, in whose work many seemingly contradictory elements are reconciled. His works offers a form of accord far more sophisticated than any notion of unity --- and this long before Modernism.

I will not deeply analyze his metaphor(m) at this point, but it revolves around his use of light and its revelation of detail as a materializing force to embrace and overcome contradiction in what he saw as theological truths and the material world. This conviction suffuses and harmonizes his work: thorough pervasiveness: light, color, composition, surface, etc.

The search for this pervasiveness, tropaic omnipresence, explains a prime form of development and growth in artists. The discovery of one's own metaphor(m) may come in a blinding flash or in gradual steps, but learning to apply it is always a matter of slow work and hard-won experience. Some creators only progress to certain points in this maturational process, winning a few rounds but leaving off the end of the match.

Thereby, they may even achieve importance, but not true strength in the Bloomian sense. The novels of James Joyce can be studied as a step-by-step realization of an ever more pervasive metaphor(m), one carried to an apex seldom reached in the history of literature or art. In an ideally consummated approach, the central trope would inhabit each and every decision by a creator. This is the never-ending lustre of the praxis of artistic maturation.

As an addendum, here is an excerpt from Eugene Delacroix's diary from Tuesday, February 19th, 1850, which offers a unique insight into 'genius,' one which is thoroughly applicable to our situation in art at the moment in Postmodernism: "The beautiful is found only once in a given period. So much the worse for geniuses who arrive after that moment. In periods of decadence, the only chance to survive is for very independent geniuses. They cannot bring their public back to the good taste of former times because it would be understood by no one; but there are lightning flashes in their work which show what they would have been in the time of simplicity. The mediocrity in those long centuries that forget the beautiful is far duller, even, than during the periods when it seems as if everybody could benefit by that taste for the simple and the true that is in the air. At such times dull artists set themselves to exaggerate the unconscious lapses of more gifted artists, which gives them the special platitude called 'turgidness' or else they go in for a superannuated imitation of the beauties of the good period, which gives the last word insipidity. They go back even further in time. They assume the naiveté of the artists who preceded the great periods. They affect a contempt for that perfection which is the natural goal of all the arts."

Thus, "genius" still has a place, freed of sexism and exaggeration. It is a result of artistic maturation and work, resulting in the pervasiveness of one's central trope, one's major meta-formal insight, throughout all aspects of one's work.

Genius in Art!

Thanks for listening. Podcast number 23. If you wish to hear more cool, exciting and hopefully inspiring stuff about art history and art, come back for more. Also I, Dr Mark Staff Brandl, artist and art historian, am available for live custom Performance-Lectures. In English und auf Deutsch.

I take viewers inside visual art and art history. Entertainingly, yet educationally and aesthetically, I analyze, underline, and discuss the reasons why a work of art is remarkable, or I go through entire eras, or indeed through the entirety of art history, or look at your desired theme through the lens of art history. The lectures often take place with painted background screens and even in my painting-installations.

Some recent ones were on the entire history of Postmodernist Art from 1979 through today, on Metaphor(m) in Art History, on Mongrel Art, and on Women in Art. Once again, I'd like to thank Chloe Orwell, Brad Elvis, and the rock band the Handcuffs for composing, performing and recording my theme song, "Shut Up and Paint," a tiny portion of which begins and ends every Dr Great Art Podcast.

You can find or contact me at

www.drgreatart.com/

book me at www.mirjamhadorn.com

or find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, all as Dr Great Art.