Spirituality and Abstraction
I finished Gablik's Conversations Before the End of Time. Now I'm reading An Art of Our Own : the Spiritual in Twentieth Century Art by Roger Lipsey. It's a kind of alternative history of abstract art, tracing the influence of spirituality in the work of Kandinsky, Mondrian, Malevich and beyond.
Lipsey discusses two types of seeing as found in a Sufi text: seeing with eyes of flesh and eyes of fire.
Eyes of flesh perceive the world and mankind as densely material; in such eyes life is a losing struggle for permanence, although sometimes full of beauty. Eyes of flesh acutely perceive details of time, place, person, action, and idea, but in relation to one another rather than to anything beyond them.So far Lipsey's book is not too dense, enjoyable but still fairly scholarly. I don't know much about early abstract art so it should be interesting, especially since a few of the artists to be discussed are in the Visual Music show.
Eyes of fire perceive each thing as the outer sign of an inner fact, or the local sign of a distant power. For such eyes nothing is lonely matter, all things are caught up in a mysterious, ultimately divine whole that challenges understanding over a lifetime. Eyes of flesh focus on the thing itself, eyes of fire on facts but still more intently on their participation in a larger meaning by which they are raised. (p.17)