Visible Deeds of Music

Visible Deeds of Music: Art and Music from Wagner to Cage

SIMON SHAW - MILLER
Copyright Date: 2002
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 304
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1np8fm
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  • Book Info
    Visible Deeds of Music
    Book Description:

    This thoughtful and provocative book explores the relationship between music and the visual arts in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, focusing on the modernist period. Reassessing the work of composers and artists such as Richard Wagner, Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee, Josef Matthias Hauer, and John Cage, Simon Shaw-Miller argues that despite modernism's advocacy of media purity and separation, the boundaries between art and music were permeable at this time, as they have been throughout history.Shaw-Miller begins by discussing the place of Wagner's music and ideas at the time of the birth of modernism, presenting Wagner's aesthetic of theGesamtkunstwerkas an alternative paradigm for modernist art. He goes on to analyze Picasso's use of musical subjects in his cubist works and Klee's adoption of music and the issue of temporality in his paintings and drawings. He concludes with the radical aesthetic of Cage, the silencing of sound, and the promotion of intermediality in the work of Fluxus artists. Through these fascinating examples, Shaw-Miller raises questions about both art and music history that will be of interest to students of both disciplines.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-13017-1
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. ONE UT PICTURA MUSICA: INTERDISCIPLINARITY, ART, AND MUSIC
    (pp. 1-35)

    Our words for the practices of art and music have classical roots. The Greek wordtechnēand the Latinarsboth originally related closely to notions of skill.Technēincluded a specific form,mousike technē, which signified the “art of the Muses.” However, the wordtechnēwas often omitted in Greek usage, andmousikeon its own stood for “art of the Muses.” And although this is the root of our wordmusic,it was first a concept signifying any art form over which the Muses presided: poetry, song, dance, astronomy.¹Mousikedid not, therefore, signify in a narrow sense...

  6. TWO “DEEDS OF MUSIC MADE VISIBLE”: WAGNER, THE GESAMTKUNSTWERK, AND THE BIRTH OF THE MODERN
    (pp. 36-88)

    The importance of the music and ideas of the German composer Richard Wagner on late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century European culture would be hard to overemphasize.¹ Few musicians have had such a wide-ranging impact on neighboring disciplines. Although Igor Stravinsky and Arnold Schoenberg stand as key figures in the history of twentieth-century music, only John Cage has had such a reverberating effect on the polity of art.

    Wagnerism was a mass phenomenon of the cultivated bourgeoisie, affecting all branches of the arts, and it is due almost solely to Wagner that musical metaphor, in discussion of the arts, held a...

  7. THREE INSTRUMENTS OF DESIRE: MUSICAL MORPHOLOGY IN PICASSO’S CUBISM
    (pp. 89-120)

    In 1958, Clement Greenberg published an article on cubist collage entitled “The Pasted-Paper Revolution.”¹ It is a relatively short but eloquent discussion of the formal implications of introducing extraneous materials into the heart of painting, creating works that play a “pivotal role in the evolution of modern painting and sculpture.” According to Greenberg, the reason for using such materials is to provide a dialogue with the actual surface of the work, the picture plane: “the resistant reality of the flat surface and the forms shown upon it in yielding, ideated depth.” Such a dialogue is necessary, Greenberg continues, to prevent...

  8. FOUR QUASI UNA MUSICA: KUPKA AND KLEE, MUSIC, AND THE IDEA OF ABSTRACTION
    (pp. 121-162)

    At the time of the emergence of abstract art, the ubiquitous nature of ut pictura musica depended on the idealist conception of music as employed by Wagner and on symbolist aesthetics that issued from Baudelaire’s writings. By this route, ut pictura musica was translated into the more prosaic formalism of Greenberg’s theory of modernism. Here music is a paradigm of autonomy, a model for painting because of its “absolute” nature and its “almost complete absorption in the very physical quality of its medium . . . an art of ‘pure form.’ ”¹ The contrary perception of music within notions of...

  9. FIVE “OUT OF TUNE”: HAUER’S LEGACY AND THE AESTHETICS OF MINIMALISM IN ART AND MUSIC
    (pp. 163-207)

    In the conventional construction of the canon of musical modernism, the work of Austrian composer Josef Matthias Hauer (1883–1959) is usually considered little more than an annotation to discussions of Arnold Schoenberg’s development of serialism (fig. 5.1). Glen Watkins is a good example of this assessment: “The details of the Hauer-Schoenberg confrontation must be seen as little more than a footnote to the larger issues of an expanding tonal planetary system inevitably wedded to formal questions that consumed virtually all composers of the time.”¹ In this context Hauer is regarded as producing a somewhat bizarre version of a dodecaphonic...

  10. SIX A CHORUS OF VOICES: SEEING MUSIC IN CAGE AND FLUXUS, THE BIRTH OF THE POSTMODERN
    (pp. 208-244)

    In this final chapter I return to Barthes’s characterization of interdisciplinarity, discussed in Chapter 1:

    What is new and which affects the idea of the work comes not necessarily from the internal recasting of each of these disciplines, but rather from their encounter in relation to an object which traditionally is the province of none of them. It is indeed as though theinterdisciplinaritywhich is today held up as a prime value in research cannot be accomplished by the simple confrontation of specialist branches of knowledge. Interdisciplinarity is not the calm of an easy security; it beginseffectively....

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 245-282)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 283-290)