Sean Scully Explores Opportunities and Themes For the Next Generation of Artists

Question: What would you do if you were a young artist?

Scully:    If I was young artist.  If I was a young artist I probably go and live in Germany because I think the Germany is the motor of Europe and it’s the intellectual center of the art world.  And Berlin is very similar to what New York was and New York maybe possibly at the end of it’s… burning life as an art center.  You know New York maybe moving toward… to be what Paris was in the 60s’.  It’s still a headquarter in a certain sense showing place but creativity, creativity I might moved to, yeah I might go to Berlin where you can get cheap places and it’s very important that when you are a young artist to have friends because you have to keep each other warmed.  You have to hold each other.  Learn from each other.  Support each other.  Make a society and keep each other warmed and that’s how you can get through. 

Question: What young artists do you like?

Scully:    Well, I found the whole figurative art movement fascinating.  I thought it was wonderful defensive painting and I don’t particularly make a distinction between abstraction and figuration in terms of what I like, what I’m attracted too and I’m very attracted to the life seek school painters near Ralph for example.  I find very nice and then many others, there are many others and I thought that was a very interesting way of renovating an interesting painting.  And what seems to happen, what was has happen so far is that as a strong sense of figuration.  I don’t know if its’ over simplification.  Well, any generalization is over simplification but in time of richness, wealth figurative art what is sometimes known as Pop Art nor less it’s derivation plainly Pop Art and so on which the young German painters where interested in.  It tends to be  in the foreground and very dominant because it’s popular and more people get involved but as art with us, to it’s trunk it gets harder and then abstraction seems to make a comeback and this is certainly what happen if you look back the 90s’ where there’s lot of abstraction.  The 80s’ where there was a lot figuration and that was a époque of copious wealth.  The 70s’ was abstract.  The 60s’ was full out with Pop Art so this seems to happen and now we might be looking a lot of abstract painting.

Question: What's the future of painting?

Scully:    Well I think the next generation of artists; painter artists will be more concerned with a kind of regeneration of spiritual value, a reflective art as opposed to a populist, bombastic, obvious art.  I think there will be more integrity in art because art and politics do hold hands.  They do walk down the avenue together.  I think we’re going to see that and we got that now in the United States. We got to move significantly to social order, social awareness, social caring, a sense of responsibility, repairing the extremely tarnished, wantonly tarnished image of America, outside America and a sense of global responsibility.  The sense that we are all in the family together which is what John F. Kennedy talked about, we all breathe the same air, his famous remark.  And I think we will return to that and the artists will be concern with a more reflective vision.

Sean Scully on the remaking of the art world.

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Originally Poe envisioned a parrot, not a raven

Quoth the parrot — "Nevermore."

The Green Parrot by Vincent van Gogh, 1886
Culture & Religion

By his mid-30s, Edgar Allan Poe was not only weary by the hardships of poverty, but also regularly intoxicated — by more than just macabre visions. Despite this, the Gothic writer lucidly insisted that there was still a method to his madness when it came to devising poems.

In an essay titled "The Philosophy of Composition," published in 1846 in Graham's Magazine, Poe divulged how his creative process worked, particularly in regard to his most famous poem: "No one point in [The Raven's] composition is rerferrible either to accident or intuition… the work proceeded step by step, to its completion with the precision and rigid consequence of a mathematical problem."

That said, contrary to the popular idea that Edgar Allan Poe penned his poems in single bursts of inspiration, The Raven did not pour out from his quivering quill in one fell swoop. Rather it came about through a calculative process — one that included making some pretty notable changes, even to its avian subject.

As an example of how his mind worked, Poe describes in his essay that originally the bird that flew across the dreary scene immortalized in the poem was actually… a parrot.

Poe had pondered ways he could have his one word refrain, "nevermore," continuously repeated throughout the poem. With that aim, he instantly thought of a parrot because it was a creature capable of uttering words. However, as quickly as Poe had found his feathered literary device, he became concerned with the bird's form on top of its important function.

And as it turns out, the parrot, a pretty resplendent bird, did not perch so well in Poe's mind because it didn't fit the mood he was going for—melancholy, "the most legitimate of all the poetical tones." In solving this dilemma in terms of imagery, he made adjustments to its plumage, altogether transforming the parrot — bestowing it with a black raiment.

"Very naturally, a parrot, in the first instance, suggested itself, but was superseded forthwith by a Raven, as equally capable of speech, and infinitely more in keeping with the intended tone," Poe explained in his piece in Graham's. "I had now gone so far as the conception of a Raven — the bird of ill omen — monotonously repeating the one word, 'Nevermore,' at the conclusion of each stanza, in a poem of melancholy tone…"

It was with these aesthetic calculations that Poe ousted the colorful bird that first flew into his mind, and welcomed the darker one that fluttered in:

In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore…

The details of the poem — including the bird's appearance — needed to all blend together, like a recipe, to bring out the somber concept he was trying to convey: the descent into madness of a bereaved lover, a man lamenting the loss of a beautiful woman named Lenore. With that in mind, quoth the parrot — "nevermore" just doesn't have the same grave effect.

* * *

If you'd like to read more about Edgar Allan Poe, click here to review how his contemporaries tried to defame him in an attempt to thwart his success.

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