color Beyond Kandinsky: Apr 5, 2011

The year 2011 marks the centennial of the publication of Wassily Kandinsky's classic text, On the Spiritual in Art. Inspired by this anniversary, this project set out to explore the place of the spiritual in contemporary art and to propose a challenge to the current devaluation of the inner life that prevails within the art world in our market-driven era.

Beginning on Wednesday, March 30th, 2011, a ten-day virtual symposium moderated by Taney Roniger and Eric Zechman was held in this forum. The symposium closed on the evening of Friday, April 8th. Below is the full record of the proceedings.

Panelists invited to participate were: Suzanne Anker, Laura Battle, Connie Beckley, Anney Bonney, Deirdre Boyle, Nathaniel Dorsky, Jeff Edwards, James Elkins, Max Gimblett, Tom Huhn, Atta Kim, Roger Lipsey, Enrique Martinez Celaya, Joseph Nechvatal, Daniel Siedell, Charlene Spretnak, David Levi Strauss, Alan Wanzenberg, and Pawel Wojtasik. For participant biographies and other project details, please visit our site:


March 30th–April 1st: Session I: The Spiritual Then and Now

April 2nd–April 3rd: Session II: The Changing Shape of Art

April 4th-5th: Session III: Art and Its Audience

April 6th–April 7th: Session IV: The Artist in Society

April 8th: Conclusions


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Returning to the abandoned spiritual ideals of modern art


I have been thinking back on the *why* of the abandoning of spiritual ideals in Modern art. I first thought it might be traced to the rise of the philosophy of Pragmatism, and that of Friedrich Nietzsche, then Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno. And with the advent of phenomenology—most noticeably that of the French philosopher Henri Bergson. I recall reading about the strong impact Henri Bergson’s theory of vitalism had upon Henri Matisse and other Modernists (including the Cubists) with the release of his book Creative Evolution in 1907.

Then I recalled that the Symbolists’s spiritualist interests were focused on the possibility of combining and superimposing symbol systems into a *universal symbolic language*. When the universal symbolic language flopped with boring and vapid Modernist conceits, symbolist spirituality was clearly abandoned. But it occurs to me that a scientific spirituality has never been sought after in art.

Max on the quality of attention


Since we're showing four films tonight at the SVA Theatre, I'm wondering if Max or anyone else would address the "quality of attention" that Max brought up yesterday. What are the qualities of attention necessary for properly experiencing art? As an artist, how would you like the viewer/participant to engage your work? What role does time play in that attention? How is it different with time-based media like film, video, digital art than with art that does not engage the participant over time?

Four films by Nathaniel Dorsky, tonight at 7 PM, SVA Theatre

Still from "Aubade" (2010) by Nathaniel Dorsky

A rare screening of four films—Sarabande (2008), Compline (2009), Aubade (2010) and Winter (2008)—by filmmaker Nathaniel Dorsky. Presented by the BFA Fine Arts Department at the School of Visual Arts in conjunction with "Beyond Kandinsky: Revisiting the Spiritual in Art." Mr. Dorsky will be present at the screening.

Tuesday April 5th

7:00 PM

SVA Theatre

333 W 23rd Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues, New York City

The screening is free and open to the public.