Paris Post War: Art and existentialism 1945-55

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Indy Politics
Today, art must stupefy to be art. At a time when, for the best reasons and the worst, everything is brought into play to explain art, to popularise and vulgarise it, to get us to swallow it down as a normal complement to our everyday living, the true creators know that the only way for them to express the inevitability of their message is through the extraordinary-paroxysm, magic, total ecstasy. That is why these pages will not discuss aesthetics or works depending on it alone, since today aesthetics is an excuse for nothing but vain pretensions, a shabby alibi for the exercise of talents utterly lacking in necessity.

There can be no question today of art for pleasure, whatever transcendent meaning, including aesthetics, one gives that word, however elaborate, however far-fetched it may be. Art is made elsewhere, outside it, on another plane of that Reality which we perceive in a different fashion: art is other . . .

The way of art, at the present time, confronts us as the way of contemplation confronted St John of the Cross: steep and rugged, offering no accessory satisfaction whatever. Since Nietzsche

and Dada, art appears from beginning to end as the most inhuman of adventures . From A New Beyond by Michel Tapie, 1952. Trans: Jerrold Lanes from Arts Yearbook 3, ed Hilton Kramer (New York: Art Digest, 1959)

Paris Post War: Art and Existentialism 1945-55 at the Tate Gallery until 5 September.

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