10 March 2013

Dreaming Of Spring

"In Nature's temple living pillars rise,
And words are murmured none have understood,
And man must wander through a tangled wood
Of symbols watching him with friendly eyes.
 
As long-drawn echoes heard far-off and dim
Mingle to one deep sound and fade away;
Vast as the night and brilliant as the day,
Colour and sound and perfume speak to him.
 
Some perfumes are as fragrant as a child,
Sweet as the sound of hautboys, meadow-green;
Others, corrupted, rich, exultant, wild,
 
Have all the expansion of things infinite:
As amber, incense, musk, and benzoin,
Which sing the sense's and the soul's delight."
Correspondences 'is reprinted from The Poems and Prose Poems of Charles Baudelaire. Ed. James Huneker. New York: Brentano's, 1919.

Using the blunt ax of professional jargon, these artworks form a 'visual cluster, ' a term intended  to differentiate how we experience their proximity to each other from iconography.  Each one has an individual consent and meaning to the viewer.  The poet Charles Baudelaire gave this experience a name: Correspondences.   I like best the theory elaborated by the German polymath Aby Warburg in the 1920s in his Mnemosyne Atlas, a panoramic survey of images across time and space that he further described as " a picture series examining the preconditioned antiquity-related expressive values".    In short, there is an affinity between artworks that  stimulates and satiates us at once.
P.S. Another affinity, a personal one I just recalled, something seasonal - Lilian Gish appears in How I Feel About Winter, posted here January 5, 2009. 

















Images:
1. Edward Steichen - Lilian Gish, Vanity Fair, December, 1932.
2. Suzukia Harunobu - Dreaming Of The First Days Of Spring, 18th century, Musee Guimet, Paris.

4 comments:

Tania said...

Très étonnante expérience, pour moi, de lire pour la première fois ce sonnet fameux traduit en anglais, et en particulier le vers 8 : "Les parfums, les couleurs et les sons se répondent."

Jane said...

Tania, that was my reaction the first time I read the sonnet in the original French! Your interesting blog helps me to practice my French , so thank you.

Hels said...

I loved poster art from the Art Nouveau era right through to the Art Deco pre-WW2 era. So Jules Cheret (1836-1932) could not have lived at a better time. People were going on holidays, buying cars, playing sport and every other activity that suited poster art.

But women in particular were changing during that era. Ferdinand Misti-Mifliez' poster for Cycles Gladiator, 1896 shows a confident, mobile and fit young woman. YES!!!

Jane said...

hels, wonder who that man chasing them is in the Napoleonic tri-cornered hat? I think her male companion is in the [pictue for the same reason that women in contemporary advertisements often wear wedding rings -to assure us that the product being sold will appear to "respectable" women. Plus ca change.....