19 October 2014

talking about art in front of the object

Write as much as possible in the presence of the actual object and return to it if you have second thoughts.
(J.J. Winckelmann, advice to Charles-Louis Clérisseau, quoted in Dr. Kimball and Mr. Jefferson by Hugh Howard (Bloomsbury, 2006), p. 62)

Went with Angelica to the Rondanini Palace. You will remember that, in one of my first letters from Rome, I spoke of a Medusa which made a great impression on me. Now the mere knowledge that such a work could be created and still exists in the world makes me feel twice the person I was. I would say something about it if everything one could say about such a work were not a waste of breath. Works of art exist to be seen, not talked about, except, perhaps in their presence. I am thoroughly ashamed of all babbling about art in which I used to join. If I can get hold of a good cast of this Medusa, I shall bring it back with me.
(Goethe, Italian journey, 1786, quoted in "History lessons: imitation, work and the temporality of contemporary art," Art history, Sept. 2014, p. 807)

photo by Lydia Anne McCarthy
as part of her i will be the void series

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