FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 8 “The Last Year at Marienbad” by Alain Resnais (Feature on artist Richard Tuttle and his return to the faith of his youth)

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Alain Resnais Interview 1

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Last Year in Marienbad (1961) Trailer

 

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My Favorite Films: Last Year at Marienbad Movie Review – WillMLFilm Review

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Alain Resnais, NYC, 12/12/80

Alain Resnais, NYC, 12/12/80

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Francis Schaeffer pictured below:

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Francis Schaeffer below in his film series shows how this film “The Last Year at Marienbad”  by Alain Resnais was appealing to “nonreason” to answer our problems.

In the book HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE? Schaeffer notes:

Especially in the sixties the major philosophic statements which received a wide hearing were made through films. These philosophic movies reached many more people than philosophic writings or even painting and literature. Among these films were THE LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD by Alain Resnais (1961), THE SILENCE by Ingmar Bergman (1967), JULIET OF THE SPIRITS by Federico Fellini (1965), BLOW UP by Michelangelo Antonioni (1966), BELLE DE JOUR by Luis Bunuel (1967), and THE HOUR OF THE WOLF by Ingmar Bergman (1967).

They showed pictorially (and with great force) what it is like if man is a machine and also what it is like if man tries to live in the area of non-reason. In the area of non-reason man is left without categories. He has no way to distinguish between right and wrong, or even between what is objectively true as opposed to illusion or fantasy….One could view these films a hundred times and there still would be no way to be sure what was portrayed as objectively true and what was part of a character’s imagination. If people begin only from themselves and really live in a universe in which there is no personal God to speak, they have no final way to be sure of the difference between reality and fantasy or illusion (pp. 201-202). 

In the book ESCAPE FROM REASON Schaeffer notes that modern man has come to the place that he truly believes that rationality is downstairs and faith is upstairs in the area of non-reason. What does man do at this point but take a leap from downstairs to upstairs. Schaeffer notes:

The leap is common to every sphere of modern man’s thought.  Man is forced to the despair of such a leap because he cannot live merely as a machine . . . If below the line man is dead, above the line, after the non-rational leap, man is left without categories.  There are no categories because categories are related to rationality and logic.The most startling cinema statement was not that man is dead downstairs, but the powerful expression of what man is above the line after the leap. The first of these films was THE LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD. This is not my guess. The films’s director explained that this is what he wanted the film to show. That is the reason for the long, endless corridors and the unrelatedness in the film. If below the line man is dead, above the line, after non-rational leap, man is left without categories. There are no categories because categories are related to rationality and logic. There is therefore no truth and no nontruth in antithesis, no right and wrong–you are adrift.

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Francis Schaeffer has written extensively on art and culture spanning the last 2000 years and here are some posts I have done on this subject before : Francis Schaeffer’s “How should we then live?” Video and outline of episode 10 “Final Choices” episode 9 “The Age of Personal Peace and Affluence”episode 8 “The Age of Fragmentation”episode 7 “The Age of Non-Reason” episode 6 “The Scientific Age” episode 5 “The Revolutionary Age” ,  episode 4 “The Reformation” episode 3 “The Renaissance”episode 2 “The Middle Ages,”, and  episode 1 “The Roman Age,” . My favorite episodes are number 7 and 8 since they deal with modern art and culture primarily.(Joe Carter rightly noted, “Schaefferwho always claimed to be an evangelist and not a philosopher—was often criticized for the way his work oversimplified intellectual history and philosophy.” To those critics I say take a chill pill because Schaeffer was introducing millions into the fields of art and culture!!!! !!! More people need to read his works and blog about them because they show how people’s worldviews affect their lives!

J.I.PACKER WROTE OF SCHAEFFER, “His communicative style was not thaof a cautious academiwho labors foexhaustive coverage and dispassionate objectivity. It was rather that of an impassioned thinker who paints his vision of eternal truth in bold strokes and stark contrasts.Yet it is a fact that MANY YOUNG THINKERS AND ARTISTS…HAVE FOUND SCHAEFFER’S ANALYSES A LIFELINE TO SANITY WITHOUT WHICH THEY COULD NOT HAVE GONE ON LIVING.”

Francis Schaeffer’s works  are the basis for a large portion of my blog posts and they have stood the test of time. In fact, many people would say that many of the things he wrote in the 1960’s  were right on  in the sense he saw where our western society was heading and he knew that abortion, infanticide and youth enthansia were  moral boundaries we would be crossing  in the coming decades because of humanism and these are the discussions we are having now!)

There is evidence that points to the fact that the Bible is historically true as Schaeffer pointed out in episode 5 of WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACEThere is a basis then for faith in Christ alone for our eternal hope. This link shows how to do that.

Francis Schaeffer in Art and the Bible noted, “Many modern artists, it seems to me, have forgotten the value that art has in itself. Much modern art is far too intellectual to be great art. Many modern artists seem not to see the distinction between man and non-man, and it is a part of the lostness of modern man that they no longer see value in the work of art as a work of art.

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Francis Schaeffer pictured below:

 

How Should We then Live Episode 7 small (Age of Nonreason)

#02 How Should We Then Live? (Promo Clip) Dr. Francis Schaeffer

10 Worldview and Truth

Two Minute Warning: How Then Should We Live?: Francis Schaeffer at 100

Francis Schaeffer Whatever Happened to the Human Race (Episode 1) ABORTION

Francis Schaeffer “BASIS FOR HUMAN DIGNITY” Whatever…HTTHR

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The above clip is from the film series by Francis Schaeffer “How should we then live?”  This film  discusses surrealist films like THE LAST YEAR OF MARIENBAD  that mixes our reality with our day dreams.

 

Alain Resnais Interview 2

Alain Resnais

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Alain Resnais
Alain Resnais Césars.jpg
Alain Resnais with Ariane AscarideJuliette Binoche and Agnès Jaoui at the 23rd César Award ceremony, 1998.

Born3 June 1922 (age 91)
VannesMorbihanBrittany, FranceYears active1946–present

Alain Resnais (French: [alɛ̃ ʁɛnɛ]; born 3 June 1922) is a French film director whose career has extended over more than six decades. After training as a film editor in the mid-1940s, he went on to direct a number of short films which included Night and Fog (1955), an influential documentary about the Nazi concentration camps.[1]

He began making feature films in the late 1950s and consolidated his early reputation with Hiroshima mon amour (1959), Last Year at Marienbad(1961), and Muriel (1963), all of which adopted unconventional narrative techniques to deal with themes of troubled memory and the imagined past. These films were contemporary with, and associated with, the French New Wave (nouvelle vague), though Resnais did not regard himself as being fully part of that movement. He had closer links to the “Left Bank” group of authors and filmmakers who shared a commitment to modernism and an interest in left-wing politics. He also established a regular practice of working on his films in collaboration with writers usually unconnected with the cinema, such as Marguerite DurasAlain Robbe-Grillet and Jorge Semprún.[1][2][3][4]

In later films Resnais moved away from the overtly political topics of some previous works and developed his interests in an interaction between cinema and other cultural forms, including theatre, music, and comic books. This led to imaginative adaptations of plays by Alan AyckbournHenri Bernstein and Jean Anouilh, as well as films featuring various kinds of popular song.

His films have frequently explored the relationship between consciousness, memory, and the imagination, and he is noted for devising innovative formal structures for his narratives.[5][6] Throughout his career he has won many awards from international film festivals and academies.

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1959–1967[edit]

Resnais’s first feature film was Hiroshima mon amour (1959). It originated as a commission from the producers of Nuit et brouillard (Anatole Dauman and Argos Films) to make a documentary about the atomic bomb, but Resnais initially declined, thinking that it would be too similar to the earlier film about the concentration camps[22] and that it presented the same problem of how to film incomprehensible suffering.[23] However, in discussion with the novelist Marguerite Duras a fusion of fiction and documentary was developed which acknowledged the impossibility of speakingabout Hiroshima; one could only speak about the impossibility of speaking about Hiroshima.[24] In the film, the themes of memory and forgetting are explored via new narrative techniques which balance images with narrated text and ignore conventional notions of plot and story development.[25] The film was shown at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival, alongside Truffaut’s Les Quatre Cents Coups (The 400 Blows), and its success became associated with the emerging movement of the French New Wave.[26]

Resnais’s next film was L’Année dernière à Marienbad (Last Year at Marienbad) (1961), which he made in collaboration with the novelist Alain Robbe-Grillet. The fragmented and shifting narrative presents three principal characters, a woman and two men, in the opulent setting of a grand European hotel or château where the possibility of a previous encounter a year ago is repeatedly asserted and questioned and contradicted. After winning the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, the film attracted great attention and provoked many divergent interpretations of how it should be understood, encouraged by interviews in which Robbe-Grillet and Resnais themselves appeared to give conflicting explanations of the film. There was little doubt however that it represented a significant challenge to the traditional concept of narrative construction in cinema.[27]

At the beginning of the 1960s France remained deeply divided by the Algerian War, and in 1960 the Manifesto of the 121, which protested against French military policy in Algeria, was signed by a group of leading intellectuals and artists who included Alain Resnais. The war, and the difficulty of coming to terms with its horrors, was a central theme of his next film Muriel (1963), which used a fractured narrative to explore the mental states of its characters. It was among the first French films to comment, even indirectly, on the Algerian experience.[28]

(Francis Schaeffer comments on Sartre’s statement on the Algerian War at this link.)

Personal life[edit]

In 1969 Resnais married Florence Malraux (daughter of the French statesman and writer André Malraux); she was a regular member of his production team, working as assistant director on most of his films from 1961 to 1986. His second wife is Sabine Azéma, who acted in the majority of his films from 1983 onwards; they were married in the English town of Scarborough in 1998.[76]

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Last Year at Marienbad

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Last Year at Marienbad
Marienbadposter.jpg
Directed by Alain Resnais
Produced by Pierre Courau
Raymond Froment
Written by Alain Robbe-Grillet
Starring Delphine Seyrig
Giorgio Albertazzi
Sacha Pitoëff
Music by Francis Seyrig
Cinematography Sacha Vierny
Editing by Jasmine Chasney
Henri Colpi
Release dates
  • June 25, 1961
Running time 94 minutes
Country France / Italy
Language French

L’Année dernière à Marienbad (released in the US as Last Year at Marienbad and in the UK as Last Year in Marienbad) is a 1961 French film directed by Alain Resnais from a screenplay by Alain Robbe-Grillet.[1]

The film is famous for its enigmatic narrative structure, in which truth and fiction are difficult to distinguish, and the temporal and spatial relationship of the events is open to question. The dream-like nature of the film has fascinated and baffled audiences and critics; some hail it as a masterpiece, others find it incomprehensible.

Plot[edit]

At a social gathering at a château or baroque hotel, a man approaches a woman. He claims they met the year before at Marienbad and is convinced that she is waiting there for him. The woman insists they have never met. A second man, who may be the woman’s husband, repeatedly asserts his dominance over the first man, including beating him several times at a mathematical game (a version of Nim). Through ambiguous flashbacks and disorienting shifts of time and location, the film explores the relationships among the characters. Conversations and events are repeated in several places in the château and grounds, and there are numerous tracking shots of the château’s corridors, with ambiguous voiceovers. The characters are unnamed in the film; in the published screenplay, the woman is referred to as “A”, the first man is “X”, and the man who may be her husband is “M”.

Cast[edit]

Style[edit]

Still from L’année dernière à Marienbad; in this surreal image, the couples cast long shadows but the trees do not

The film continually creates an ambiguity in the spatial and temporal aspects of what it shows, and creates uncertainty in the mind of the spectator about the causal relationships between events. This may be achieved through the editing, giving apparently incompatible information in consecutive shots, or within a shot which seems to show impossible juxtapositions, or by means of repetitions of events in different settings and décor. These ambiguities are matched by contradictions in the narrator’s voiceover commentary.[7] Among the notable images in the film is a scene in which two characters (and the camera) rush out of the château and are faced with a tableau of figures arranged in a geometric garden; although the people cast long dramatic shadows, the trees in the garden do not.

The manner in which the film is edited challenged the established classical style of narrative construction.[8] It allowed the themes of time and the mind and the interaction of past and present to be explored in an original way.[9] As spatial and temporal continuity is destroyed by its methods of filming and editing, the film offers instead a “mental continuity”, a continuity of thought.[10]

In determining the visual appearance of the film, Resnais said that he wanted to recreate “a certain style of silent cinema”, and his direction as well as the actors’ make-up sought to produce this atmosphere.[11] He even asked Eastman Kodak if they could supply an old-fashioned filmstock that would ‘bloom’ or ‘halo’ to create the look of a silent film (they could not).[12] Resnais showed his costume designer photographs from L’Inhumaine andL’Argent, for which great fashion designers of the 1920s had created the costumes. He also asked members of his team to look at other silent films including Pabst’s Pandora’s Box: he wanted Delphine Seyrig’s appearance and manner to resemble that of Louise Brooks. Most of Seyrig’s dresses in the film were designed by Chanel.[13] The style of certain silent films is also suggested by the manner in which the characters who populate the hotel are mostly seen in artificial poses, as if frozen in time, rather than behaving naturalistically.[14]

The films which immediately preceded and followed Marienbad in Resnais’s career showed a political engagement with contemporary issues (the atomic bomb, the aftermath of the Occupation in France, and the then taboo subject of the war in Algeria); Marienbad however was seen to take a completely different direction and to focus principally on style.[8] Commenting on this departure, Resnais said: “I was making this film at a time when I think, rightly, that one could not make a film, in France, without speaking about the Algerian war. Indeed I wonder whether the closed and stifling atmosphere of L’Année does not result from those contradictions.”[15]

Reception[edit]

Critical response to the film was divided from the outset and has remained so.[16][17] Controversy was fuelled when Robbe-Grillet and Resnais appeared to give contradictory answers to the question whether the man and woman had actually met at Marienbad last year or not; this was used as a means of attacking the film by those who disliked it.[18]

In 1963 the writer and film-maker Ado Kyrou declared the film a total triumph in his influential Le Surréalisme au cinéma,[19] recognizing the ambiguous environment and obscure motives within the film as representing many of the concerns of surrealism in narrative cinema. Another early supporter, the actor and surrealist Jacques Brunius, declared that “Marienbad is the greatest film ever made”.[20]

Less reverently, Marienbad received an entry in The Fifty Worst Films of All Time, by Harry Medved, with Randy Dreyfuss and Michael Medved. The authors lampooned the film’s surrealistic style and quoted numerous critics who found it to be pretentious and/or incomprehensible. The film critic Pauline Kael called it “the high-fashion experimental film, the snow job at the ice palace… back at the no-fun party for non-people”.[21]

The movie inspired a brief craze for the Nim variation played by the characters.[22]

Interpretations[edit]

Numerous explanations of the ‘story’ have been put forward: that it is a version of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth; that it represents the relationship between patient and psychoanalyst; that it all takes place in the woman’s mind;[23] that it all takes place in the man’s mind, and depicts his refusal to acknowledge that he has killed the woman he loved;[24] that the characters are ghosts or dead souls in limbo;[25] etc.

Some have noted that the film has the atmosphere and the form of a dream, that the structure of the film may be understood by the analogy of a recurring dream,[26] or even that the man’s meeting with the woman is the memory (or dream) of a dream.[27]

Others have heeded, at least as a starting point, the indications given by Robbe-Grillet in the introduction to his screenplay: “Two attitudes are then possible: either the spectator will try to reconstitute some ‘Cartesian’ scheme – the most linear, the most rational he can devise – and this spectator will certainly find the film difficult if not incomprehensible; or else the spectator will let himself be carried along by the extraordinary images in front of him […] and to this spectator, the film will seem the easiest he has ever seen: a film addressed exclusively to his sensibility, to his faculties of sight, hearing, feeling.”[28]

Robbe-Grillet offered a further suggestion of how one might view the work: “The whole film, as a matter of fact, is the story of a persuading [“une persuasion“]: it deals with a reality which the hero creates out of his own vision, out of his own words.”[29]

Resnais for his part gave a more abstract explanation of the film’s purpose: “For me this film is an attempt, still very crude and very primitive, to approach the complexity of thought, of its processes.”[30]

Awards[edit]

The film won the Golden Lion at the 1961 Venice Film Festival. In 1962 it won the critics’ award in the category Best Film of the Syndicat Français de la Critique de cinéma in France. The film was selected as the French entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 34th Academy Awards in 1962, but was not accepted as a nominee.[31] However, it was nominated for the 1963Academy Award for Writing Original Screenplay (Alain Robbe-Grillet)[32] and it was also nominated for a Hugo Award as Best Dramatic Presentation.

The film was refused entry to the Cannes Film Festival because the director, Alain Resnais, had signed Jean-Paul Sartre‘s Manifesto of the 121 against the Algeria War.[33]

Influence[edit]

The impact of L’Année dernière à Marienbad upon other film-makers has been widely recognised and variously illustrated, extending from French directors such as Agnès VardaMarguerite Duras, and Jacques Rivette to international figures like Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini.[34] Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining[35] and David Lynch’s Inland Empire[36] are two films which are cited with particular frequency as showing the influence of Marienbad.

Peter Greenaway said that Marienbad had been the most important influence upon his own filmmaking (and he himself established a close working relationship with its cinematographer Sacha Vierny).[37]

The film’s visual style has also been imitated in many TV commercials and fashion photography.[38]

The music video for “To the End“, a 1994 single by British rock group Blur, is based on the film.

This film was the main inspiration for Karl Lagerfeld‘s Chanel Spring-Summer 2011 collection.[39] Lagerfeld’s show was complete with a fountain and a modern replica of the film’s famous garden. Since costumes for this film were done by Coco Chanel, Lagerfeld drew his inspiration from the film and combined the film’s gardens with those at Versailles.

Donald Draper, the antihero of Mad Men, is shown watching this film and La Notte in season 2; themes of each film resonate with Draper’s storylines.[40]

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Here is a portion of a review by Roger Ebert:

LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD

 

 

 

Last Year at Marienbad Movie Review
  |  Roger Ebert

May 30, 1999  

Yes, it’s easy to smile at Alain Resnais’ 1961 film, which inspired so much satire and yet made such a lasting impression. Incredible to think that students actually did stand in the rain to be baffled by it, and then to argue for hours about its meaning–even though the director claimed it had none. I hadn’t seen “Marienbad” in years, and when I saw the new digitized video disc edition in a video store, I reached out automatically: I wanted to see it again, to see if it was silly or profound, and perhaps even to recapture an earlier self–a 19-year-old who hoped Truth could be found in Art.

Viewing the film again, I expected to have a cerebral experience, to see a film more fun to talk about than to watch. What I was not prepared for was the voluptuous quality of “Marienbad,” its command of tone and mood, its hypnotic way of drawing us into its puzzle, its austere visual beauty. Yes, it involves a story that remains a mystery, even to the characters themselves. But one would not want to know the answer to this mystery. Storybooks with happy endings are for children. Adults know that stories keep on unfolding, repeating, turning back on themselves, on and on until that end that no story can evade.

The film takes place in an elegant chateau, one with ornate ceilings, vast drawing rooms, enormous mirrors and paintings, endless corridors and grounds in which shrubbery has been tortured into geometric shapes and patterns. In this chateau are many guests–elegant, expensively dressed, impassive. We are concerned with three of them: “A” (Delphine Seyrig), a beautiful woman. “X” (Giorgio Albertazzi), with movie-idol good looks, who insists they met last year and arranged to meet again this year. And “M” (Sascha Pitoeff), who may be A’s husband or lover, but certainly exercises authority over her. He has a striking appearance, with his sunken triangular face, high cheekbones, deep-set eyes and subtle vampirish overbite.

The film is narrated by X. The others have a few lines of dialogue here and there. On the soundtrack is disturbing music by Francis Seyrig, mostly performed on an organ–Gothic, liturgical, like a requiem. X tells A they met last year. He reminds her of the moments they shared. Their conversations. Their plans to meet in her bedroom while M was at the gaming tables. Her plea that he delay his demands for one year. Her promise to meet him again next summer.

A does not remember. She entreats X, unconvincingly, to leave her alone. He presses on with his memories. He speaks mostly in the second person: “You told me … you said … you begged me … .” It is a narrative he is constructing for her, a story he is telling her about herself. It may be true. We cannot tell. Resnais said that as the co-writer of the story he did not believe it, but as the director, he did. The narrative presses on. The insistent, persuasive X recalls a shooting, a death. No–he corrects himself. It did not happen that way. It must have happened this way, instead … .

We see her in white, in black. Dead, alive. The film, photographed in black and white by Sacha Vierny, is in widescreen. The extreme width allows Resnais to create compositions in which X, A and M seem to occupy different planes, even different states of being. (The DVD is letterboxed; to see this film panned-and-scanned would be pointless.) The camera travels sinuously; the characters usually move in a slow and formal way, so that any sudden movement is a shock (when A stumbles on a gravel walk and X steadies her, it is like a sudden breath of reality).

The men play a game. It has been proposed by M. It involves setting out several rows of matchsticks (or cards, or anything). Two players take turns removing matchsticks, as many as they want, but only from one row at a time. The player who is left with the last matchstick loses. M always wins. On the soundtrack, we hear theories: “The one who starts first wins … the one who goes second wins … you must take only one stick at a time … you must know when to … .” The theories are not helpful, because M always wins anyway. The characters analyzing the stick game are like viewers analyzing the movie: You can say anything you want about it, and it makes no difference.

“I’ll explain it all for you,” promised Gunther Marx, a professor of German at the U. of I. We were sitting over coffee in the student union, late on that rainy night in Urbana. (He would die young; his son Frederick would be one of the makers of “Hoop Dreams.”) “It is a working out of the anthropological archetypes of Claude Levi-Strauss. You have the lover, the loved one and the authority figure. The movie proposes that the lovers had an affair, that they didn’t, that they met before, that they didn’t, that the authority figure knew it, that he didn’t, that he killed her, that he didn’t. Any questions?”

I sipped my coffee and nodded thoughtfully. This was deep. I never subsequently read a single word by Levi-Strauss, but you see I have not forgotten the name. I have no idea if Marx was right. The idea, I think, is that life is like this movie: No matter how many theories you apply to it, life presses on indifferently toward its own inscrutable ends. The fun is in asking questions. Answers are a form of defeat.

It is possible, I realize, to grow impatient with “Last Year at Marienbad.” To find it affected and insufferable. It doesn’t hurtle through its story like today’s hits–it’s not a narrative pinball machine. It is a deliberate, artificial artistic construction. I watched it with a pleasure so intense I was surprised. I knew to begin with there would be no solution. That the three characters would move forever through their dance of desire and denial, and that their clothing and the elegant architecture of the chateau was as real as the bedroom at the end of “2001: A Space Odyssey”–in other words, simply a setting in which human behavior could be observed.

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Is Roger Ebert correct when he states, “No matter how many theories you apply to it, life presses on indifferently toward its own inscrutable ends. The fun is in asking questions. Answers are a form of defeat.” I don’t think Ebert is right because it is my view that God has spoken to us and we can know the truth about why we were put on this earth. Also we can know that our lives will not end forever when we die but we do have an afterlife with God. That is the reason I have chosen our next artist and his work to look at closely. I am very interested in his emphasis on the subject of transcendence. James Tuttle is his name below he is pictured with his wife Kyung-Lim Lee who is a poet.

Featured Artist Today is James Tuttle:

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James Turrell and his wife, Kyung-Lim Lee

James Turrell – Skyspaces

Our current exhibition, The Ecstasy of Knowing, has us thinking about master of light, James Turrell.

James Turrell (b. 1943) is an American artist and Quaker who often describes himself as a sculptor of light. His work mixes architecture, sculpture and atmosphere to communicate feelings of transcendence and mediation.

Skyspace, James Turrell, Photo by Florian Holzherr

Turrell is known for his amazing Skyspaces, enclosed rooms where he subtly changes the light around an aperture in a roof, manipulating the viewer’s perception of the sky from a flat to three-Dimensional space.

Sky Pesher by James Turrell, Walker Art Center

Visitors are encouraged to spend contemplative time in his spaces as each one provides an array of changing colors throughout the day.  There are several skyspaces in the United States and around the world.

Meeting (Skyspace) by James Turrell, MoMA PS1

Original file ‎(3,872 × 2,592 pixels, file size: 1.04 MB, MIME type: image/jpeg)

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[ARTS 315] Working in the Expanded Field, part 3: Axiomatic Structures – Jon Anderson

Published on Apr 5, 2012

Contemporary Art Trends [ARTS 315], Jon Anderson

Working in the Expanded Field, part 3: Axiomatic Structures

November 4, 2011

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At the 25 minute mark in the above lecture from Jon Anderson of Biola there is a 12 minuted section on the art of James Turrell. Anderson points out that Turrell is trying to give us “a strong dose of the immaterial, the spiritual, and the transcendent and his work is trying to get us thinking about the spiritual or transcendent.”

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Richard Tuttle: Reality & Illusion | Art21 “Exclusive”

Uploaded on May 14, 2009

Episode #056: Artist Richard Tuttle installs the work “Ten Kinds of Memory and Memory Itself” (1973) at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

Richard Tuttle commonly refers to his art as drawing rather than sculpture, emphasizing the diminutive scale and idea-based nature of his work. He subverts the conventions of modernist sculptural practice by creating small, eccentrically playful objects in decidedly humble materials. Influences on his work include calligraphy, architecture, and poetry.

Learn more about Richard Tuttle: http://www.art21.org/artists/richard-…

VIDEO | Producer: Wesley Miller and Nick Ravich. Interview: Susan Sollins. Camera & Sound: Sam Henriques and Merce Williams. Editor: Jenny Chiurco. Artwork Courtesy: Richard Tuttle. Special Thanks: The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

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You will notice in the interview of Richard Tuttle by the reporter Chris Martin that Tuttle talks about grasping for immortality. Of course, that is not possible with a material base. The famous atheistic philosopher Jean Paul Sartre at the end of his life said:

“I do not feel that I am the product of chance, a speck of dust in the universe, but someone who was expected, prepared, prefigured. In short, a being whom only a Creator could put here; and this idea of a creating hand refers to God.”

You will notice in the interview that Tuttle knew Agnes Bernice Martin (March 22, 1912 – December 16, 2004) who was a famous artist, but he refers to her as though she still communicates to him even after her death. Without the belief in God people will always try to reach out and make a connection beyond this life. No wonder Richard Tuttle thinks this life is too short. In this video below by ART 21 called “Art and Life”  Richard Tuttle notes:

In some sense the artist is like Plato might call a “true philosopher.” You can go to the limit  of any or all disciplines that might be touched upon in our whole lifetime , for example, doesn’t seem enough to reach all those doors…Art is life and has to be all of life.

Now there is another point I want to demonstrate from Richard Tuttle’s life and work. Tuttle was raised in the Quaker faith and many Quakers hold the view that Christ has revealed himself in the Bible to us and He is the only way to heaven. In fact, their mission papers state, “Scripture calls us to account and helps us know God’s will. The Bible, as interpreted by the Holy Spirit, shows us what God requires of us and provides authoritative and unfailing spiritual guidance for our lives today.” However, Tuttle left his faith for over 25 years and then he came back to it. During this whole time he was searching for the transcendence in his art work. Currently Turrell is involved with the Quaker Fellowship which is called the 3rd Haven Friends Meeting in Easton, Maryland. I do not know if they hold to the traditional Christian views or not.

I have posted many times before about the pop singer Chris Martin of Coldplay (this is a different person than the reporter Chris Martin mentioned earlier) who was raised as an evangelical but he left his faith when he was 20, but he has not been able to totally shake his former beliefs (including his belief in hell) and they keep showing up in his songs. Deep down Martin knows that God created him for a purpose and that God has communicated to him truths about death and the afterlife that he can’t ignore. JUST LIKE TUTTLE IS CHRIS MARTIN BEING NUDGED BACK TO THE FAITH OF HIS CHILDHOOD BECAUSE HE CAN’T GET AROUND THE ISSUE OF “TRANSCENDENCE” IN HIS LIFE? Let’s look at the evidence that Martin keeps coming back to in his songs.

On June 23, 2012 my son Wilson and I got to attend a Coldplay Concert in Dallas. It was great. We drove down from our home in Little Rock, Arkansas earlier in the day. I wish they had played “Cemeteries of London” at the Dallas concert since I like that song a lot. Let me show you two points from the Book of Romans:

God reveals Himself in two Ways 

Lets take a look at the lyrics from the song “Cemeteries of London:”

God is in the houses
And God is in my head
And all the cemeteries of London
I see God come in my garden
But I don’t know what He said
For my heart, it wasn’t open
Not open

Romans chapter one clearly points out that God has revealed Himself through both the created world around us  and also in a God-given conscience that testifies to each person that God exists.
Notice in this song that the song writer notes, “I see God come in my garden” and “God is in my head.” These are the exact two places mentioned by the scripture.  Romans 1:18-20 (Amplified version)

18 For God’s [holy] wrath and indignation are revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who in their wickedness repress and hinder the truth and make it inoperative.

19 For that which is known about God is evident to them and made plain in their inner consciousness, because God [Himself] has shown it to them.

20 For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature and attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity, have been made intelligible and clearly discernible in and through the things that have been made (His handiworks). So [men] are without excuse [altogether without any defense or justification],(B)

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Chris Martin of Coldplay pictured below:

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Concerning these verses Francis Schaeffer said:

The world is guilty of suppressing God’s truth and living accordingly. The universe and its form and the mannishness of Man speak the same truth that the Bible gives in greater detail.

This is what Chris Martin is having to deal with and he  is clearly searching for spiritual answers but it seems he have not found them quite yet. The song “42“: “Time is so short and I’m sure, There must be something more.” Then in the song “Lost” Martin sings these words: “Every river that I tried to cross, Every door I ever tried was locked..”
Solomon went to the extreme in his searching in the Book of Ecclesiastes for this “something more” that Coldplay is talking about, but he found riches (2:8-11), pleasure (2:1), education (2:3), fame (2:9) and his work (2:4) all “meaningless” and “vanity” and “a chasing of the wind.” Every door he tried was locked.

Solomon is searching for the meaning of life in the Book of Ecclesiastes and that reminds me a lot of the search that Chris Martin is currently in.  By the way, the final chapter of Ecclesiastes finishes with Solomon emphasizing that serving God is the only proper response of man. My prediction: I am hoping that Coldplay’s next album will also come to that same conclusion that Solomon came to in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14:
13 Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the whole duty of man.

14 For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil.

Kerry Livgren of Kansas found Christ eventually after first trying some Eastern Religions. I remember telling my friends in 1978 when “Dust in the Wind” was the number 6 song in the USA that Kansas had written a philosophical song that came to the same conclusion about humanistic man as Solomon did so long ago and I predicted that some members of that band would come to know the Christ of the Bible in a personal way. (Some rock bands  such as the “Verve“, claim that change is not possible, but it is when Christ comes in and changes someone.) You can hear Kerry Livgren’s story from this youtube link:

(part 1 ten minutes)

(part 2 ten minutes)

In the song Poppyfields” Chris Martin sings, ” People burying their dead…I don’t wanna die on my own here tonight.” That fatalistic view can also be seen in “Dust in the Wind.”

Here are the lyrics from the Kansas song “Dust in the Wind”:”

I close my eyes Only for a moment and the moment’s gone All my dreams Pass before my eyes with curiosity
Dust in the wind All they are is dust in the wind
Same old song Just a drop of water in an endless sea All we do Crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see
(Aa aa aa) Dust in the wind All we are is dust in the wind Oh, ho, ho
Now don’t hang on Nothin’ last forever but the earth and sky It slips away And all your money won’t another minute buy
Dust in the wind All we are is dust in the wind (All we are is dust in the wind)
Dust in the wind (Everything is dust in the wind) Everything is dust in the wind (In the wind)

Coldplay – Cemeteries of London ( FULL VIDEO)

The brilliant video for Cemeteries of London. It’s the perfect mix between music and image, Coldplay sold around 8 million albums with Viva La Vida.

Rare picture: Elusive couple Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin are photographed together at a beach party in the Hamptons

Elusive: Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin in a rare shot together at a beach party in the Hamptons

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Richard Tuttle: Art & Life | Art21 “Exclusive”

Uploaded on Jul 2, 2009

Episode #063: Richard Tuttle discusses his philosophical relationship to art and life in his New Mexico studio.

Richard Tuttle commonly refers to his art as drawing rather than sculpture, emphasizing the diminutive scale and idea-based nature of his work. He subverts the conventions of modernist sculptural practice by creating small, eccentrically playful objects in decidedly humble materials. Influences on his work include calligraphy, architecture, and poetry.

Learn more about Richard Tuttle: http://www.art21.org/artists/richard-…

VIDEO | Producer: Wesley Miller and Nick Ravich. Interview: Susan Sollins. Camera & Sound: Bob Elfstrom and Ray Day. Editor: Jenny Chiurco. Artwork Courtesy: Richard Tuttle.

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ART JANUARY 1ST, 2005

In Conversation

Richard Tuttle

by Chris Martin

Photo of Richard Tuttle courtesy of Sperone Westwater.

Throughout his impressive 40 year career, Richard Tuttle has pursued an artistic practice that is not easily categorized, incorporating drawing, painting, and sculpture into an idiosyncratic, intensely personal hybrid. With two successive solo installations at the Drawing Center in New York, a new show at the Wolfsonian-Florida International University in Miami, and an upcoming retrospective opening at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in July 2005 and traveling to the Whitney Museum of American Art in the fall, Tuttle’s work has become highly visible recently, despite its sometimes miniscule scale. The Rail spoke with Tuttle at the TriBeCa loft he shares with his wife, poet Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, and their daughter, Martha.

 

Rail: Somehow in the middle of all this you met Agnes Martin. Can you talk about how you met her and what she meant to you as a young artist?

Tuttle: Well, when I enlisted to be a pilot, I thought they would keep me for years. I felt that I had thrown my life away and that actually gave me courage to call Agnes. After I enlisted I went to the streets, and there was a phone booth and she was living near there, and so I just called her up and she invited me by.

Rail: You called because you knew who she was—you had seen her work?

Tuttle: I called because I had actually seen her and I had had a sort of intuitive response, she had something to say to me about whatever it is I am. So I knew I didn’t need my savings, my little bit of savings, so I thought I’d buy art with it. So I went to Agnes and said I would like to buy a drawing. And I looked at drawing after drawing after drawing, and finally the one I found was in the pages of a telephone book where it was being flattened. When I found it I knew that that was the drawing I wanted. As the years go on, it is just a phenomenal drawing. It is really like the first drawing of the true grids, and that is such an enormous step in terms of art. It is incalculable, that if one did try to calculate it, there are so many different points of view in which you can offer a calculation. I think Agnes is truly an artist who is going to take 100 years for the world to catch up to what she is actually doing.

Rail: Was Agnes encouraging of your work?

Tuttle: Sometimes, not always. There was a period, like there was a group of work I made called “The Tin Pieces,” and she really didn’t go for that at all. But then I remember when I made the first really octagonal cloth piece, and just at that moment Agnes came by and she approved of the piece. That was important; she just thought the others were slipping backwards, which they were.

Rail: Well, how wonderful of her. She was able to give you this clarity and encouragement.

Tuttle: I think we all see differently, yet being able to see is a gift or a talent that we develop, and there are certainly people who are extremely developed in seeing. But a child can also come along and see as well as somebody who has been training their entire life to see.

Rail: Right—it is not about progress or your credentials, but about being open and perceptive in that moment.

Tuttle: Yeah, and the values that emerge from that.

Rail: You’ve stayed close to Agnes Martin and maintained a dialogue over the years?

Tuttle: Yes. I had Agnes on a drive two days ago. Many people feel bad when people get old and they can’t do this or they can’t do that. Actually, we go into these higher levels of illumination. We are not leaving; we are gaining, in fact. Agnes was such an extraordinary human being, and to be around her as she is going through to these higher levels of illumination—I just ask her questions. And the nurses there are like, who is this? But her answers, the freshness! One question I asked her was if she thought Picasso was a good artist. And I didn’t get an answer because she forgot the question [laughs]. But the fact that she didn’t have an answer is also an answer. I asked Agnes, “Is there a special relation between women and abstraction?” And she said, “Without women, you’ll never know what abstraction is.” One issue that we talked about is this difference between men and women. I think that men’s art is read from left to right and women’s art is read from right to left. I faced this any number of times going to art school when I would walk in and try to see what was there. Zero was coming in, and then I would see that this was a woman’s art. So I would go up and read it from right to left, and then I would see. So this happened many times. And finally I went to Agnes and asked her about it because she does this type of painting that seems to be non-gender specific, and maybe for that reason she really didn’t like the question. After a few moments she said, “My paintings have always been read from right to left.” It’s fascinating when you actually look at them that way you get this heart-touching delicacy and poignancy. With Agnes’s work, that is all played against this other formality, this toughness, this structure. She does make such an effort to make it even all over. Where does that come from? I am reading an essay written by Kathryn Tuma, who works at the Drawing Center, who says that Agnes is on record somewhere as saying that when people go to a museum, they have many different emotional responses; they can be happy or angry, but those responses are not connected to the paintings in the museum. And Kathryn says, like any logical person would, “Well, if they’re not connected to the paintings, what are they connected to?” She made a great litany of all the people who have looked at Agnes’s paintings and felt the beauty and all the aesthetic emotional qualities as a kind of proof that Agnes is not correct in saying that one’s response is not connected to the art. I know it is dangerous, but I am kind of for Agnes.


© Richard Tuttle
The Duck IV, 1987
Corrugated cardboard carton.Wood, string, paint and other materials
Private collection, Munich

Richard Tuttle at work

Uploaded on Oct 12, 2010

Artist Richard Tuttle creates a wire drawing in SFMOMA’s galleries. Learn more about Tuttle at http://www.sfmoma.org/multimedia/inte…

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Rail: When I go to a Richard Tuttle show, I never quite know what to expect. Your work has an element of surprise that seems to be pretty consistent. Are there certain techniques that you use to constantly reinvent what you are doing?

Tuttle: Well, I like to think of myself as a very hard worker, but it is very rare and unusual for me to be able to get to do the real stuff. One of the ways I know of that is when it’s an occasion where we feel that we didn’t make something, that it just came through.

Rail: Do you draw or paint on a daily basis?

Tuttle: Yeah. I was very proud of something Adam Weinberg said once. He said, “When you talk to Richard, you always feel like he’s working.” I think I actually carry that too far sometimes. I think that there is a certain energy, and I just make something on a day-to-day basis. Then there’s the question of whether the work is the rare masterpiece or whether it is the day-to-day thing. And when it comes time to show, you know—what is the work? The quandary is whether to show something that’s exceptional or to show that work that you think of as invisible, like invisible daily life.

Rail: Well, the size of your work seems to mirror the invisible intimacy of daily life. Have you ever been tempted to make really large-size pieces?

Tuttle: Well, I guess the issue isn’t size; it’s scale. And each of us has our scale, which I find also quite remarkable. Early on, part of my thinking was economic because I just said I’ll sacrifice, I’ll live cheaply, I’ll make all the sacrifices I need to as long as I can make my art. And the small size kind of came, out of those parameters, to be connected to my scale. But I actually have an idea at the moment that my scale, which I think is much more important than size, also has a relation to supersize: really, really big stuff. I have been doing some projects that are supersize, and they have been very successful, but that is even more paradoxical because when you get to supersize, people don’t know that it becomes invisible.

 

MORE ARTICLES BY THE AUTHOR

Chris Martin

CHRIS MARTIN is an abstract artist based in Brooklyn, NY.

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Richard Tuttle’s work below:

At the 9:00 mark below Richard Tuttle said, “I have a very hard time believing anything and that doesn’t make life that happy.” Many artists before have come to a place of sadness and despair because they as sensitive men know that we have been put on this world for a purpose they can’t find it. 

Conversations | Premiere | Artist Talk | Richard Tuttle

Published on Dec 12, 2012

Richard Tuttle, Artist, New York/New Mexico
In conversation with Chris Dercon, Director of Tate Modern, London

Thursday | December 6 | 2012

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Richard Tuttle

Home » Artists » Richard Tuttle

About Richard Tuttle

Richard Tuttle was born in Rahway, New Jersey, in 1941, and lives and works in New Mexico and New York. He received a BA from Trinity College, Hartford. Although most of Tuttle’s prolific artistic output since the beginning of his career in the 1960s has taken the form of three-dimensional objects, he commonly refers to his work as drawing rather than sculpture, emphasizing the diminutive scale and idea-based nature of his practice. He subverts the conventions of Modernist sculptural practice—defined by grand, heroic gestures; monumental scale; and the “macho” materials of steel, marble, and bronze—and instead creates small, eccentrically playful objects in decidedly humble, even “pathetic” materials such as paper, rope, string, cloth, wire, twigs, cardboard, bubble wrap, nails, Styrofoam, and plywood. Tuttle also manipulates the space in which his objects exist, placing them unnaturally high or oddly low on a wall—forcing viewers to reconsider and renegotiate the white-cube gallery space in relation to their own bodies. Tuttle uses directed light and shadow to further define his objects and their space. Influences on his work include calligraphy (he has a strong interest in the intrinsic power of line), poetry, and language. A lover of books and printed matter, Tuttle has created artist’s books, collaborated on the design of exhibition catalogues, and is a consummate printmaker. Richard Tuttle received a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and the Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture. He has had one-person exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; Kunsthaus Zug, Switzerland; Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, Santiago de Compostela; and Museu Fundação Serralves, Porto. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art organized a 2005 Tuttle retrospective.

Links
Sperone Westwater, New York
Richard Tuttle on the Art21 Blog

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Richard Tuttle | Art21 | Preview from Season 3 of “Art in the Twenty-First Century” (2005)

Uploaded on Oct 14, 2008

Richard Tuttle commonly refers to his work as drawing rather than sculpture, emphasizing the diminutive scale and idea-based nature of his practice. He subverts the conventions of modernist sculptural practice and instead creates small, eccentrically playful objects in decidedly humble materials such as paper, rope, twigs, and bubble wrap. Tuttle also manipulates the space in which his objects exist, forcing viewers to reconsider and renegotiate the white-cube gallery space in relation to their own bodies.

Richard Tuttle is featured in the Season 3 episode “Structures” of the Art21 series “Art in the Twenty-First Century”.

Learn more about Richard Tuttle: http://www.art21.org/artists/richard-…

© 2005-2007 Art21, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Comments

  • SLIMJIM  On February 14, 2014 at 4:16 am

    What an example of Post modern film and the lost of objectivity

    • Everette Hatcher III  On February 14, 2014 at 7:19 am

      That is where modern man has come to and it is truly sad that Roger Ebert would actually say after watching this film, “The idea, I think, is that life is like this movie: No matter how many theories you apply to it, life presses on indifferently toward its own inscrutable ends. The fun is in asking questions. Answers are a form of defeat.”

      I know you SlimJim and I would like to have the big questions answered and we are glad that we have found the purpose of life in the infinite personal God who created the universe and put us here for a purpose. Life is not just made of time and chance after all. Thanks for your input. I truly value it.

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