FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE PART 96 THE BEATLES (Breaking down the song “Eleanor Rigby” Part B and the issue of LONELINESS) Featured artist is Robert Morris

 

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The song ELEANOR RIGBY was a huge hit because it connected so well with “all the lonely people.” The line that probably best summed up how many people felt was: “All the lonely people, Where do they all come from? All the lonely people, Where do they all belong?”

Francis Schaeffer believed in engaging the secular society and attempting to answer the big questions of life from a Biblical perspective. However, some Christians opposed this approach. In Robert M. Price’s book BEYOND BORN AGAIN we read the reason that many Christians had avoided Beatles’ music:

Bob Larson warns, ” Lyrical content which is directly opposed to Biblical standards and accepted Christian behavior should definitely be avoided. For teenagers listening to the Beatles sing NOWHERE MAN or ELEANOR RIGBY would stop to realize the philosophical implications of the lyrics of these sayings. Nevertheless, the philosophical outlook conveyed will influence their thoughts.”

Eleanor Rigby-The Beatles

| On Apr 05, 2013

Jake Meador writes on Edith (and Francis) Schaeffer over at Mere Orthodoxy.

Without the Schaeffers, I sincerely wonder if we’d have magazines like Relevant and Cardus or journals like Books & Culture or the Mars Hill Audio Journal. I know that the nonprofit Ransom Fellowship, run by two very dear friends of mine, would not exist as it does. And even as some of the work they inspired has fallen out of favor in recent years (most notably the Christian worldview movement spearheaded by Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey), I suspect its critics would not be nearly so well equipped to address the movement’s shortcomings were it not for the trailblazing work of the Schaeffers. After all, the worldview movement’s most astute critic, Jamie Smith, is drawing from the same (reformed) theological well as the Schaeffers.

The Schaeffers made it possible in a way it had not been before to be thoughtfully engaged with (and even delighted by) much of popular culture while still holding to Christian orthodoxy. That is a tremendous accomplishment when one considers that today’s evangelicals are, by and large, the theological descendants of fundamentalists who emphasized separation from the world. When Francis Schaeffer first came to Wheaton in 1968, he spoke on the music of The Rolling Stones and THE BEATLES and Pink Floyd. He talked about the films of Bergman and Antonioni–and at a time when Wheaton’s honor code forbade students from seeing any movies at all! That the Schaeffers accomplished such an enormous cultural work while also modeling a tremendously generous, sacrificial hospitality at L’Abri that imaged the Gospel to thousands of guests over nearly 30 years is nothing short of remarkable.

(Francis Schaeffer pictured below)

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“Eleanor Rigby” is a song about loneliness and depression representing a departure from the Beatles’ early pop love songs.

This is an early example of the Beatles taking risks and dabbling in other genres; in this particular its baroque pop, as made evident by the string arrangements. During the Beatles’ experimental phase, their producer George Martin experimented with studio techniques to satiate the Beatles’ artistic desires. To achieve the aggressive punchy sound of the strings, Martin had the microphones set up really close to the instruments, much to the chagrin of the session players, who were not used to such a unique set-up.

Eleanor Rigby – PAUL McCARTNEY

The Beatles Cartoon – Eleanor Rigby.

Uploaded on Feb 21, 2012

Ah, look at all the lonely people
Ah, look at all the lonely people

Eleanor Rigby picks up the rice in the church where a
wedding has been
Lives in a dream
Waits at the window, wearing the face that she keeps
in a jar by the door
Who is it for?

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

Father McKenzie writing the words of a sermon that
no one will hear
No one comes near
Look at him working, darning his socks in the night
when there’s nobody there
What does he care?

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

Ah, look at all the lonely people
Ah, look at all the lonely people

Eleanor Rigby died in the church and was buried along with her name
Nobody came
Father McKenzie wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave
No one was saved

All the lonely people (Ah, look at all the lonely people)
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people (Ah, look at all the lonely people)
Where do they all belong?

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Eleanor Rigby’s despair reminds me of another song called  DUST IN THE WIND by Kerry Livgren of the group KANSAS which was a hit song in 1978 when it rose to #6 on the charts because so many people connected with the message of the song.

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

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)

Kerry Livgren himself said that he wrote the song because he saw where man was without a personal God in the picture. Solomon pointed out in the Book of Ecclesiastes that those who believe that God doesn’t exist must accept three things. FIRST, death is the end and SECOND, chance and time are the only guiding forces in this life.  FINALLY, power reigns in this life and the scales are never balanced. The Christian can  face death and also confront the world knowing that it is not determined by chance and time alone and finally there is a judge who will balance the scales.

(Kerry Livgren)

Both Kerry Livgren and the bass player Dave Hope of Kansas became Christians eventually. Kerry Livgren first tried Eastern Religions and Dave Hope had to come out of a heavy drug addiction. I was shocked and elated to see their personal testimony on The 700 Club in 1981 and that same  interview can be seen on You Tube today. Livgren lives in Topeka, Kansas today where he teaches “Diggers,” a Sunday school class at Topeka Bible ChurchDAVE HOPE is the head of Worship, Evangelism and Outreach at Immanuel Anglican Church in Destin, Florida.

(Dave Hope)

The answer to find meaning in life is found in putting your faith and trust in Jesus Christ. The Bible is true from cover to cover and can be trusted.

Thank you again for your time and I know how busy you are.

Everette Hatcher, everettehatcher@gmail.com, http://www.thedailyhatch.org, cell ph 501-920-5733, Box 23416, LittleRock, AR 72221, United States

 

You can hear DAVE HOPE and Kerry Livgren’s stories from this youtube link:

(part 1 ten minutes)

(part 2 ten minutes)

Kansas – Dust in the Wind (Official Video)

Help for the Suicidal

God offers you true, living hope–not a false hope based on your death.
By David Powlison

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO

It’s easy to see the risk factors for suicide—depression, suffering, disillusioning experiences, failure—but there are also ways to get your life back on track by building protective factors into your life.

Ask for help

How do you get the living hope that God offers you in Jesus? By asking. Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8).

Suicide operates in a world of death, despair, and aloneness. Jesus Christ creates a world of life, hope, and community. Ask God for help, and keep on asking. Don’t stop asking. You need Him to fill you every day with the hope of the resurrection.

At the same time you are asking God for help, tell other people about your struggle with hopelessness. God uses His people to bring life, light, and hope. Suicide, by definition, happens when someone is all alone. Getting in relationship with wise, caring people will protect you from despair and acting out of despair.

But what if you are bereaved and alone? If you know Jesus, you still have a family—His family is your family. Become part of a community of other Christians. Look for a church where Jesus is at the center of teaching and worship. Get in relationship with people who can help you, but don’t stop with getting help. Find people to love, serve, and give to. Even if your life has been stripped barren by lost relationships, God can and will fill your life with helpful and healing relationships.

Grow in godly life skills

Another protective factor is to grow in godly living. Many of the reasons for despair come from not living a godly, fruitful life. You need to learn the skills that make godly living possible. What are some of those skills?

    • Conflict resolution. Learn to problem-solve by entering into human difficulties and growing through them. (See Ask the Christian Counselor article, “Fighting the Right Way.”)
    • Seek and grant forgiveness. Hopeless thinking is often the result of guilt and bitterness.
    • Learn to give to others. Suicide is a selfish act. It’s a lie that others will be better off without you. Work to replace your faulty thinking with reaching out to others who are also struggling. Take what you have learned in this article and pass it on to at least one other person. Whatever hope God gives you, give to someone who is struggling with despair.

Live for God

When you live for God, you have genuine meaning in your life. This purpose is far bigger than your suffering, your failures, the death of your dreams, and the disillusionment of your hopes. Living by faith in God for His purposes will protect you from suicidal and despairing thoughts. God wants to use your personality, your skills, your life situation, and even your struggle with despair to bring hope to others.

He has already prepared good works for you to do. Paul says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). As you step into the good works God has prepared for you—you will find that meaning, purpose, and joy.

 

Eleanor Rigby

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For other uses, see Eleanor Rigby (disambiguation).
“Eleanor Rigby”

US picture sleeve
Single by The Beatles
from the album Revolver
A-side Yellow Submarine
Released 5 August 1966
Format 7″
Recorded 28–29 April and 6 June 1966,
EMI Studios, London
Genre Baroque pop[1]
Length 2:08
Label
Writer(s) Lennon–McCartney
Producer(s) George Martin
The Beatles singles chronology
Paperback Writer
(1966)
Eleanor Rigby” / “Yellow Submarine
(1966)
Strawberry Fields Forever” / “Penny Lane
(1967)
Revolver track listing
Music sample
MENU
0:00

Eleanor Rigby is a song by the Beatles, released on the 1966 albumRevolver and as a 45 rpm single. It was written by Paul McCartney, and credited to Lennon–McCartney.[2]

The song continued the transformation of the Beatles from a mainly rock and roll / pop-oriented act to a more experimental, studio-based band. With a double string quartet arrangement by George Martin and striking lyrics about loneliness, “Eleanor Rigby” broke sharply with popular music conventions, both musically and lyrically.[3]Richie Unterberger of Allmusic cites the band’s “singing about the neglected concerns and fates of the elderly” on the song as “just one example of why the Beatles’ appeal reached so far beyond the traditional rock audience”.[4] In 1987, American poet Allen Ginsberg stated that when they sang “look at all the lonely people,” the Beatles were referring to their fans, specifically the screaming members of their live audiences.

Composition[edit]

A promotional poster for the single from the UK.

Paul McCartney came up with the melody of “Eleanor Rigby” as he experimented with his piano. However, the original name of the protagonist that he chose was not Eleanor Rigby but Miss Daisy Hawkins.[5] The singer-composer Donovan reported that he heard McCartney play it to him before it was finished, with completely different lyrics.[6] In 1966, McCartney recalled how he got the idea for his song:

I was sitting at the piano when I thought of it. The first few bars just came to me, and I got this name in my head … “Daisy Hawkins picks up the rice in the church”. I don’t know why. I couldn’t think of much more so I put it away for a day. Then the name Father McCartney came to me, and all the lonely people. But I thought that people would think it was supposed to be about my Dad sitting knitting his socks. Dad’s a happy lad. So I went through the telephone book and I got the name “McKenzie”.[7]

Others believe that “Father McKenzie” refers to “Father” Tommy McKenzie, who was the compere at Northwich Memorial Hall.[8][9]

McCartney said he came up with the name “Eleanor” from actress Eleanor Bron, who had starred with the Beatles in the film Help!. “Rigby” came from the name of a store in Bristol, “Rigby & Evens Ltd, Wine & Spirit Shippers”, which he noticed while seeing his girlfriend of the time, Jane Asher, act in The Happiest Days of Your Life. He recalled in 1984, “I just liked the name. I was looking for a name that sounded natural. ‘Eleanor Rigby’ sounded natural.” However, it has been pointed out that the graveyard of St Peter’s Church in Liverpool, where John Lennon and Paul McCartney first met at the Woolton Village garden fete in the afternoon of 6 July 1957, contains the gravestone of an individual called Eleanor Rigby. Paul McCartney has conceded he may have been subconsciously influenced by the name on the gravestone.[10] The real Eleanor Rigby lived a lonely life similar to that of the woman in the song.[11]

McCartney wrote the first verse by himself, and the Beatles finished the song in the music room of John Lennon’s home at Kenwood. John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, and their friend Pete Shotton all listened to McCartney play his song through and contributed ideas. Harrison came up with the “Ah, look at all the lonely people” hook. Starr contributed the line “writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear ” and suggested making “Father McCartney” darn his socks, which McCartney liked. It was then that Shotton suggested that McCartney change the name of the priest, in case listeners mistook the fictional character in the song for McCartney’s own father.[12]

The song is often described as a lament for lonely people[13] or a commentary on post-war life in Britain.[14][15]

McCartney could not decide how to end the song, and Shotton finally suggested that the two lonely people come together too late as Father McKenzie conducts Eleanor Rigby’s funeral. At the time, Lennon rejected the idea out of hand, but McCartney said nothing and used the idea to finish off the song, later acknowledging Shotton’s help.[12] The Rolling Stones’ song “Paint It Black” with its oblique reference to a funeral “a line of cars … all painted black” was in the charts when the recording of “Eleanor Rigby” was being completed.[16]

Lennon was quoted in 1971 as having said that he “wrote a good half of the lyrics or more”[17] and in 1980 claimed that he wrote all but the first verse,[18] but Shotton (who was Lennon’s childhood friend) remembered Lennon’s contribution as being “absolutely nil”.[19] McCartney said that “John helped me on a few words but I’d put it down 80–20 to me, something like that.”[20]

Harmony[edit]

The song is a prominent example of mode mixture, specifically between the Aeolian mode, also known as natural minor, and the Dorian mode. Set in E minor, the song is based on the chord progression Em-C, typical of the Aeolian mode and utilising notes ♭3, ♭6, and 7 in this scale. The lead melody, however, is taken primarily from the somewhat lighter Dorian mode, a minor scale with sharpened sixth degree.[21] “Eleanor Rigby” opens with a C-major vocal harmony (“Aah, look at all …”), before shifting to E-minor (on “lonely people”). The Aeolian C-natural note returns later in the verse on the word “dre-eam” (C-B) as the C chord resolves to the tonic Em, giving an urgency to the melody’s mood.

The Dorian mode appears with the C# note (6 in the Em scale) at the beginning of the phrase “in the church”. The chorus beginning “All the lonely people” involves the viola in a chromatic descent to the 5th; from 7 (D natural on “All the lonely peo-“) to 6 (C on “-ple”) to 6 (C on “they) to 5 (B on “from”). This is said to “add an air of inevitability to the flow of the music (and perhaps to the plight of the characters in the song)”.[22]

Historical artefacts[edit]

The gravestone of the “real” Rigby, St. Peter’s Parish Church, Woolton, August 2008

In the 1980s, a grave of an Eleanor Rigby was “discovered” in the graveyard of St. Peter’s Parish Church in Woolton, Liverpool, and a few yards away from that, another tombstone with the last name “McKenzie” scrawled across it.[23][24] During their teenage years, McCartney and Lennon spent time sunbathing there, within earshot of where the two had met for the first time during a fete in 1957. Many years later, McCartney stated that the strange coincidence between reality and the lyrics could be a product of his subconscious (cryptomnesia), rather than being a meaningless fluke.[23]

An actual Eleanor Rigby was born in 1895 and lived in Liverpool, possibly in the suburb of Woolton, where she married a man named Thomas Woods. She died on 10 October 1939 at age 44. Regardless of whether this Eleanor was the inspiration for the song or not, her tombstone has become a landmark to Beatles fans visiting Liverpool. A digitised version was added to the 1995 music video for the Beatles’ reunion song “Free as a Bird“.

In June 1990, McCartney donated to Sunbeams Music Trust[25] a document dating from 1911 which had been signed by the 16-year-old Eleanor Rigby; this instantly attracted significant international interest from collectors because of the coincidental significance and provenance of the document.[26] The nearly 100-year-old document was sold at auction in November 2008 for £115,000 ($250,000).[27] The Daily Telegraph reported that the uncovered document “is a 97-year-old salary register from Liverpool City Hospital”. The name “E. Rigby” is printed on the register, and she is identified as a scullery maid.

Recording[edit]

Statue of Eleanor Rigby in Stanley Street, Liverpool. A plaque to the right describes it as “Dedicated to All the Lonely People

“Eleanor Rigby” does not have a standard pop backing. None of the Beatles played instruments on it, though John Lennon and George Harrison did contribute harmony vocals.[28] Like the earlier song “Yesterday“, “Eleanor Rigby” employs a classical string ensemble—in this case an octet of studio musicians, comprising four violins, two cellos, and two violas, all performing a score composed by producer George Martin.[28] Where “Yesterday” is played legato, “Eleanor Rigby” is played mainly in staccato chords with melodic embellishments. For the most part, the instruments “double up”—that is, they serve as a single string quartet but with two instruments playing each of the four parts. Microphones were placed close to the instruments to produce a more vivid and raw sound; George Martin recorded two versions, one with and one without vibrato, the latter of which was used. McCartney’s choice of a string backing may have been influenced by his interest in the composer Antonio Vivaldi, who wrote extensively for string instruments (notably “the Four Seasons“). Lennon recalled in 1980 that “Eleanor Rigby” was “Paul’s baby, and I helped with the education of the child … The violin backing was Paul’s idea. Jane Asher had turned him on to Vivaldi, and it was very good.”[29] The octet was recorded on 28 April 1966, in Studio 2 at Abbey Road Studios; it was completed in Studio 3 on 29 April and on 6 June. Take 15 was selected as the master.[30]

George Martin, in his autobiography All You Need Is Ears, takes credit for combining two of the vocal parts—”Ah! look at all the lonely people” and “All the lonely people”—having noticed that they would work together contrapuntally. He cited the influence of Bernard Herrmann‘s work on his string scoring. (Originally he cited the score for the film Fahrenheit 451,[31] but this was a mistake as the film was not released until several months after the recording; Martin later stated he was thinking of Herrmann’s score for Psycho.)[32]

The original stereo mix had Paul’s voice only in the right channel during the verses, with the string octet mixed to one channel, while the mono single and mono LP featured a more balanced mix. On the Yellow Submarine Songtrack and Love versions, McCartney’s voice is centred and the string octet appears in stereo, creating a modern-sounding mix.

Releases[edit]

The “Eleanor Rigby”/”Yellow Submarine” single issued byParlophone in the UK. “Eleanor Rigby” stayed at #1 for four weeks on the British pop charts.

Simultaneously released on 5 August 1966 on both the album Revolver and on a double A-side single with “Yellow Submarine” on Parlophone in the United Kingdom and Capitol in the United States,[33] “Eleanor Rigby” spent four weeks at number one on the British charts,[28] but in America it only reached the eleventh spot.[34]

The song was nominated for three Grammys and won the 1966 Grammy for Best Contemporary (R&R) Vocal Performance, Male or Female for McCartney. Thirty years later, a stereo remix of George Martin’s isolated string arrangement (without the vocal) was released on the Beatles’ Anthology 2. A decade after that, a remixed version of the track was included in the 2006 album Love.

It is the second song to appear in the Beatles’ 1968 animated film Yellow Submarine. The first is “Yellow Submarine”; it and “Eleanor Rigby” are the only songs in the film which the animated Beatles are not seen to be singing. “Eleanor Rigby” is introduced just before the Liverpool sequence of the film; its poignancy ties in quite well with Ringo Starr (the first member of the group to encounter the submarine), who is represented as quietly bored and depressed. “Compared with my life, Eleanor Rigby’s was a gay, mad world.”

In 1984, a re-interpretation of the song was included in the film and album Give My Regards to Broad Street, written by and starring McCartney. It segues into a symphonic extension, “Eleanor’s Dream.”

A fully remixed stereo version of the original “Eleanor Rigby” song was issued in 1999 on the Yellow Submarine Songtrack, with some minor fixes to the vocals.

Significance[edit]

The “Eleanor Rigby”/”Yellow Submarine” single from Japan. The photo shows The Beatles on stage in Tokyo in 1966.

“Eleanor Rigby” was important in the Beatles’ evolution from a pop, live-performance band to a more experimental, studio-orientated band, though the track contains little studio trickery. In a 1967 interview, Pete Townshend of The Who commented, “I think ‘Eleanor Rigby’ was a very important musical move forward. It certainly inspired me to write and listen to things in that vein.”[35]

Though “Eleanor Rigby” was far from the first pop song to deal with death and loneliness, according to Ian MacDonald it “came as quite a shock to pop listeners in 1966”.[28] It took a bleak message of depression and desolation, written by a famous pop band, with a sombre, almost funeral-like backing, to the number one spot of the pop charts.[28] The bleak lyrics were not the Beatles’ first deviation from love songs, but were some of the most explicit.

In some reference books on classical music, “Eleanor Rigby” is included and considered comparable to art songs (lieder). Classical and theatrical composer Howard Goodall said that the Beatles’ works are “a stunning roll-call of sublime melodies that perhaps only Mozart can match in European musical history” and that they “almost single-handedly rescued the Western musical system” from the “plague years of the avant-garde“. About “Eleanor Rigby”, he said it is “an urban version of a tragic ballad in the Dorian mode“.[36]

Celebrated songwriter Jerry Leiber said: “The Beatles are second to none in all departments. I don’t think there has ever been a better song written than ‘Eleanor Rigby’.”[37]

Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees once said that their 1969 song “Melody Fair” was influenced by “Eleanor Rigby”[38]

In 2004, this song was ranked number 138 on Rolling Stone‍ ’​s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time“.[39]

Personnel[edit]

Personnel per Ian MacDonald[28]

Cover versions[edit]

Studio versions[edit]

The following artists have recorded “Eleanor Rigby” in a variety of styles, at least 62 released on albums by one count:[40]

Live performances[edit]

Samples[edit]

  • In 1993, Marky Mark together with Prince Ital Joe sampled “Eleanor Rigby” for his single “Happy People” which became a Top 10 hit in Germany and Finland, reaching Top 40 in Austria, Sweden and Switzerland.
  • In 1994, Irish singer Sinéad O’Connor used the lyrics of the song’s chorus for her song “Famine“, which appears on Universal Mother. The song was later remixed and released as a single in 1995, and was a Top 40 UK hit.
  • In 2000, Dru Hill frontman Sisqo sampled the “Eleanor Rigby” song on the hit single “Thong Song“.
  • In 2004, Brooklyn rapper Talib Kweli released “Lonely People”, using “Eleanor Rigby” as the main sample.
  • In 2006, mashup artist team9 created a remix of “Eleanor Rigby” using Queens of the Stone Age‘s “In My Head”.
  • In 2009, a beat produced by J-Dilla that sampled the live “Eleanor Rigby” cover by The Four Tops was used for Raekwon‘s “House of the Flying Daggers”, three years after J-Dilla’s death in 2006.
  • In 2009, rapper Game (rapper) sampled this song for his single “Dope Boys”.
  • In 2010, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra used the opening harmony as a guitar riff in their live performances of the “Gutter Ballet Medley,” which also features a cover version of The Beatles’ “Help!“.
  • Immortal Technique “The Martyr” (from the compilation album, The Martyr) uses an interpolation of the string backing from “Eleanor Rigby”.
  • In 2013, No’Side mixed “Eleanor Rigby” with the instrumental and hook of Bob Marley‘s Sun is Shining, dubbing it Eleanor Rigby is Shining.

Charts[edit]

Chart (1966) Peak
position
UK Singles Chart 1
Canadian CHUM Chart 1
US Billboard Hot 100 11
Chart (1986) Peak
position
UK Singles Chart 63
  • UK, starting 11 August 1966: 8-1-1-1-1-3-5-9-18-26-30-33-42
  • UK, starting 30 August 1986: 63-81

References[edit]

Categories:

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Robert Morris is featured artist today!!

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Great article 

Robert Morris Life and Art Periods

“Simplicity of shape does not necessarily equate with simplicity of experience.”

Robert Morris

ROBERT MORRIS SYNOPSIS

Robert Morris was one of the central figures of Minimalism. Through both his own sculptures of the 1960s and theoretical writings, Morris set forth a vision of art pared down to simple geometric shapes stripped of metaphorical associations, and focused on the artwork’s interaction with the viewer. However, in contrast to fellow MinimalistsDonald Judd and Carl Andre, Morris had a strikingly diverse range that extended well beyond the Minimalist ethos and was at the forefront of other contemporary American art movements as well, most notably, Process art and Land art. Through both his artwork and his critical writings, Morris explored new notions of chance, temporality, and ephemerality.

ROBERT MORRIS KEY IDEAS

In the mid-1960s, Morris created some of the key exemplars of Minimalist sculpture: enormous, repeated geometric forms, such as cubes and rectangular beams devoid of figuration, surface texture, or expressive content. These works forced the viewer to consider the arrangement and scale of the forms themselves, and how perception shifted as one moved around them, which was a central preoccupation of Minimalism.
Morris’s 1966 essay “Notes on Sculpture” was among the first to articulate the experiential basis of Minimalist artwork. It called for the use of simple forms, such as polyhedrons, which could be grasped intuitively by the viewer. and also described Minimalist sculptures as dependent on the context and conditions in which they were perceived, essentially upending the notion of the artwork as independent in and of itself.
In the late 1960s, Morris began introducing indeterminacy and temporality into the artistic process, referred to as Process art or Anti-Form. By cutting, dropping, or stacking everyday materials such as felt or rags, Morris emphasized the ephemeral nature of the artwork, which would ultimately change every time it was installed in a new space. This replaced what Morris posited as the fixed, static nature of Minimalist, or “object-type,” art.

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MOST IMPORTANT ART

Box with the Sound of Its Own Making (1961)
As its title indicates, Morris’s Box with the Sound of Its Own Making consists of an unadorned wooden cube, accompanied by a recording of the sounds produced during its construction. Lasting for three-and-a-half hours, the audio component of the piece denies the air of romantic mystery surrounding the creation of the art object, presenting it as a time-consuming and perhaps even tedious endeavor. In so doing, the piece also combines the resulting artwork with the process of artmaking, transferring the focus from one to the other. Fittingly, the first person in New York Morris invited to see the piece was John Cage-whose silent 1952 composition 4’33” is famously composed of the sounds heard in the background while it is being performed. Cage was reportedly transfixed by Box with the Sound of Its Own Making, as Morris later recalled: “When Cage came, I turned it on… and he wouldn’t listen to me. He sat and listened to it for three hours and that was really impressive to me. He just sat there.”
Walnut and recorded audio tapes (original) and compact disc (reformatted by artist) – Seattle Art Museum, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Bagley Wright
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ROBERT MORRIS BIOGRAPHY

Childhood

Robert Morris grew up in a suburban area of Kansas City. Early in life, he began reproducing comic strip images, a habit that helped him discover a talent for drawing. A flexible outlook at his elementary school allowed him to spend additional time honing his artistic skills. He also participated in a weekend enrichment program that encouraged the students to sketch artwork in the local Nelson Gallery (now the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art) and draw at the art studios of the Kansas City Art Institute.

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ROBERT MORRIS LEGACY

Morris’s pioneering role in Minimalism and Post-Minimalist movements such asProcess art and Land art made him one of the most significant figures in American art of the 1960s and 1970s. His use of repeated geometric forms, industrial materials and focus on the viewer’s pure engagement with the object influenced the work of contemporaries such as Donald Judd, as well as later adherents of Minimalism such asFred Sandback and Jo Baer. Morris’s embrace of simple actions such as cutting and dropping and his use of unconventional materials resonated in the works of artists likeEva Hesse and Felix Gonzalez-Torres, as seen, for example, in the former’s coiled rope pieces and the latter’s works composed of spilled black licorice.

Morris also has an important critical legacy. His pivotal essay “Notes on Sculpture” directly prompted a negative response from critic Michael Fried who composed his famous 1967 essay “Art and Objecthood” as a response to Morris. In “Art and Objecthood,” Fried expressed his objection to Minimalist sculpture for abandoning the concern with the nuances of composition and form in favor of engagement with the viewer, or “theatricality,” which, in Fried’s eyes, removed the work from the realm of art and transformed the act of viewing into a spectacle.

Original content written by Tracee Ng
Robert Morris. [Internet]. 2015. TheArtStory.org website. Available from:
http://www.theartstory.org/artist-morris-robert.htm [Accesed 03 May 2015]

ROBERT MORRIS QUOTES

“Have I reasons? The answer is my reasons will soon give out. And then I shall act, without reasons.”

“There’s information and there’s the object; there’s the sensing of it; there’s the thinking that connects to process. It’s on different levels. And I like using those different levels.”

“I’ve been interested in memory and forgetting, fragments and wholes, theories and biographies, disasters and absurdities, and drawing but not dancing in the dark.”

“So long as the form (in the broadest possible sense: situation) is not reduced beyond perception, so long as it perpetuates and upholds itself as being in the subject’s field of vision, the subject reacts to it in many particular ways when I call it art. He reacts in other ways when I do not call it art. Art is primarily a situation in which one assumes an attitude of reacting to some of one’s awareness as art…”

INFLUENCES

ARTISTS

Marcel Duchamp

Jackson Pollock
FRIENDS

Simone Forti

Donald Judd

Yvonne Rainer
MOVEMENTS

Abstract Expressionism

Dada
Robert Morris Bio Photo
Robert Morris
Years Worked: 1960 – Present
ARTISTS

Felix Gonzalez-Torres Overview

Felix Gonzalez-Torres

Barry Le Va Overview

Barry Le Va

Bruce Nauman Overview

Bruce Nauman
FRIENDS

Richard Bellamy Overview

Richard Bellamy

Leo Castelli Overview

Leo Castelli

Rosalind Krauss Overview

Rosalind Krauss
MOVEMENTS

Minimalism Overview

Minimalism

Post-Minimalism Overview

Post-Minimalism

Process Art Overview

Process Art

Robert Morris at Sprüth Magers

March 21st, 2012

Artist: Robert Morris

Venue: Sprüth Magers, Berlin

Date: February 10 – April 05, 2012

Click here to view slideshow

Full gallery of images, press release and link available after the jump.

Images:

Images courtesy of Sprüth Magers, Berlin. Photos by Jens Ziehe.

Press Release: 

Monika Sprüth and Philomene Magers are pleased to present the second solo exhibition by Robert Morris in Berlin. The American artist is displaying a selection of space-related works which offer an historical overview of his involvement with sculpture.

The interdisciplinary work of Robert Morris, which extends from objects, sculptures, and drawings through performances all the way to films and texts, has exercised a strong influence on developments in art ever since the 1960s. As an important thinker at the end of the avant-gardes of modernism, proceeding from Minimal Art, he detached himself early on from a rigid concept of the work of art and from the autonomous aura of the object, addressing above all the process of artistic production, which he displayed as an essential component of his works. During the 1960s, he was involved with the Judson Dance Theater in New York, where he participated in performances by Yvonne Rainer and Simone Forti and conceived his own choreographies. The engagement with postmodern dance gave rise to a significant constant within his sculptural works: The investigation of an inclusion of the viewer which focuses on the temporal perception of sculpture by means of bodily movement through space, and which furthermore directs the view from the institutional space out onto social aspects in the real world. Thus in the current exhibition as well, Robert Morris activates, through a specific spatial arrangement of his works, performative and self-reflective modes of perception in the viewers.

Prominently placed in the Garden Room at the beginning of the exhibition is Scatter Piece (1968), whose setting gives the viewer control over how he experiences the objects by moving through the space. The elements made of felt, copper, steel, lead zinc, and brass aluminum unfold a confrontation between industrial and biomorphic materials, and they lay out a sculptural production site whose arrangement reacts directly to the site which it occupies at the moment. In this way, the installation manifests a temporary and changeable state of completion. The bringing to light of a processual artistic activity, such as Morris called for in his theoretical texts Notes on Sculpture, Part 1-4 (1966-69) and Anti-Form (1968), likewise addresses the social context of production and labor, a perspective which is also to be seen against the background of the institutional criticism of Concept Art as well as the social expectations during the 1970s with regard to art production.

Situated in the Main Room are Untitled (Corner Beam) and Untitled (Floor Beam), which are made out of plywood and painted gray. Along with the works Untitled (Corner Piece) and Untitled (Wall/Floor Slab), presented on the Upper Floor, they were first shown by Morris in 1964 at the Green Gallery in New York as components of a seven-part group. The objects trace out simple actions in space: They connect architectural structures with each other, emphasize corner situations, or lean against walls. They are reminiscent of stage props such as Column, which Morris used in 1960 as a substitute for the human body in one of his first performances at the Living Theater in New York.

Morris’ early Minimal Art works, to which Untitled (Ring with Light) (1965-66) also belongs, are closely linked to his dance compositions such as Site (1964) or Waterman Switch (1965) in which the dancers partly executed onstage task-oriented movements with geometrical objects.

Also in another work on display, Steel Mesh Ls (1988), the different positioning of the three identical L-shapes can be read as anthropomorphic movements such as sitting, lying, or standing. Whereas Morris conceived of the plywood sculptures from 1964 as temporary objects which can be taken apart and reproduced on site at any time, the Steel Mesh Ls are made out of metal mesh. Thus they conform on the one hand to industrial production and to the solid, cool surfaces of Minimal Art, but they contradict this correspondence through the semi-transparent grid which renders unstable and disconcerting perspectives onto the objects. Morris often works with interchangeable structures, inasmuch as he reconstructs and repeats forms such as the L-Beams in materials as wood, aluminum, or steel mesh and thereby dissolves the notion of original or seriality within his own work.

In addition, part of the exhibition consists of selected works made of felt: Lead and Felt from 1969 spreads out in the Main Room as a sculptural mass made from pieces of lead and felt and creates a structure which oscillates between positive and negative forms, between light-reflecting and light-absorbing textures. In this work, Morris directs attention to the relationship between material and gravity as well as between spatial arrangement and random indeterminacies. This turning away from permanent sculptures by means of temporary formations is achieved through fleeting and mutable materials such as felt, steam, or soil. Morris thereby aims at functional and economic considerations, in order to introduce social connotations of everyday life into the exhibition space, which has also been pursued by artists such as Eva Hesse, Robert Rauschenberg, and Claes Oldenburg. The works Untitled (1976) and Untitled (2010) belong to a series of wall works in felt which the artist developed from 1974 onward. As an important aspect of the works, the metal grommets imply the possibility of mounting the felt pieces onto the wall which Morris realized in pocket- or diamond-shaped folds. Here, too, the artist follows the force of gravitation: In his arrangements, he integrates the flowing physical movement of the material as a factor determining how it hangs from the wall and into which forms it is directed. By further endeavoring to compel the flexible texture of felt into rigid, geometrical forms, Morris reflects ironically upon the formal severity of the visual icons of abstract art or Cubism.

Furthermore, there are two installations which use sound to create an altered spatial situation. Both works take up the aspect of an assembly or an inner dialogue whose speakers, however, remain absent. Chairs (2001), one of Morris’ more recent works, consists of a circle of small-sized chairs which are covered by lead elements that are shaped by hand into the form of textile sheets. In contrast to the older works, there ensues here a narrative scene which indicates a possible meeting of children who, accompanied by a sonnet, exchange their thoughts. The 8-track sound installation Voices from 1974, which can be heard for the first time as a digitally synchronized version, consists of a complex choreography of several voices and soundtracks emanating into the empty space from eight loudspeakers. The abstract audio-play lasts three-and-a-half hours and brings together spoken texts, some of which were written by Robert Morris while others comprise excerpts from Emil Kraepelin’s Dementia Praecox (1919) and Manic Depressive Insanity and Paranoia (1921) which he edited. Voices consists of four sequences, whereby each differs from the next with respect to the subject matter and the editing technique. The mental, introspective narrative space built up by the speakers is connected with a discontinuous experience of the real space, inasmuch as the voices from the various sources of sound can only be followed through a physical movement.

In his exhibition, Robert Morris combines various spatial conceptions which emphasize the experience of art as a process and employ sculptural works to create situations of change, displacement, and disorientation so as to initiate for the viewer constantly unexpected and evolving possibilities of perception.

Robert Morris (born 1931 in Kansas City, Missouri, USA) lives and works in New York State. His works have been presented throughout the world in solo exhibitions at such institutions as the Green Gallery, New York (1964), the Whitney Museum, New York (1970), the Tate Gallery, London (1971), the Art Institute of Chicago (1980), and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (1986). Morris was represented with his works at the documenta 6 (1977) and the documenta 8 (1987), as well as at the Venice Biennials in 1978 and 1980. In 1994, the Guggenheim Museum in New York organized the extensive retrospective The Mind/Body Problem, which was displayed further at the Deichtorhallen in Hamburg and at the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris. Recently, the artist has shown his work in solo exhibitions at the Tate Modern, London (Bodyspacemotionthings, 2009); at the Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach (Notes on Sculpture – Objects, Installations, Film, 2009/2010) as well as in a group exhibition at the Hayward Gallery, London (Move: Choreographing You – Art & Dance, 2010/2011).

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