All 4 entries tagged Logic Of Sensation

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October 01, 2004

Klee and the separation of painting and music

Follow-up to Van Gogh and painterly diagrams from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

Note – this is academic work. If you know about Deleuze's aesthetics, Klee, Bacon etc, you are very welcome to comment.

Painting, as with Van Gogh, establishes a rhythmic pattern. Through an additive synthesis, painting intensifies the body, leads it into chaotic relations with the rest of the material world, provides it with a depth of simultaneous connections, nearing chaos.

For some time painters have been concerned with the relationship between the rhythmic essence of painting and that of music. Deleuze, in a consideration of Cezanne and Bacon, attempts to clarify this relation:

Rhythm appears as music when it invests the auditory level, and as painting when it invests the visual level. Francis Bacon:Logic of Sensation, Continuum, 2004, p.44
Certainly music traverses our bodies in profound ways, putting an ear in the stomach, in the lungs, and so on. It knows all about waves and nervousness. But it involves our body, and bodies in general, in another element. It strips bodies of their inertia, of the materiality of their presence: it disembodies bodies. In a sense, music begins where painting ends, and this is what is meant by the superiority of music. It is lodged in lines of flight that pass through bodies, but which find their consistency elsewhere, whereas painting is lodged farther up, where the body escapes from itself. ibid p.54

Music then acts to disembody, make abstract, deterritorialize onto a distinct plane. As if pulling the spirit out of the body . The incessant seriality of music acts to concentrate and overwhelm the body in anticipation of perception.1

Paul Klee was concerned with this distinction. As both an accomplished violinist and a painter it would necessarily be an issue. Duchling seems to claim some connection between Klee and the ideas of Nietzsche and Bergson on rhythm in fine arts. Did Klee read Bergson? Anyhow, in the face of attempts by critics to say that Klee's painting was musical, used the same structure as music, Klee responded strongly by emphasising that both arts are rhythmic, but in entirely different ways. Deleuze also had an interest in Klee (will look into that more).

This is the starting point for Duchling's book on Paul Klee, Painting Music. I've just discovered this, and it seems to be fascinating.

In comparison to the Romantics, Klee sought the actual basis for the analogy in the most inner being of music – rhythm – which in his opinion not only marks the movement of time in music, but also in art. Paul Klee: Painting Music, Hajo Duchting, Pegasus, p.14


1Consider here Klee's rejection of Hausenstein's Kantian analysis of finality and purposiveness in Klee - Paul Klee: Painting Music, Hajo Duchting, Pegasus, p.12.

August 18, 2004

Cezanne unlocking sensation, painting nature

Follow-up to On art and the art of war – Bacon and Cezanne from Transversality - Robert O'Toole


Cezanne, it is said, is the painter who puts vital rhythm into the visual sensation. Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation, p. 43

This vital rhythm is what Deleuze later calls the diagram of the painter. It is:

…the operative set of asignifying and nonrepresentative lines and zones, line-strokes and color patches. ibid, p.101

They are applications of paint and the hand of the artist that rhythmically reappear. Diagrams are used to unlock sensations, to release them from their immediate take-up in discursive and representational diversions, to bring us to the sensation itself, in its plurality and complexity…

…there are not sensations of different orders, but different orders of one and the same sensation… ibid p.37

…but for no reason other than its own actuality. This complexity, singularity and actuality turned Cezanne towards nature:

Every sensation, and every Figure, is already an "accumulated" or "coagulated" sensation, as in a limestone figure. ibid p.37

Cezanne sought the event or irruption of the sensation as we experience in nature:

This is what one must achieve. If I reach too high or too low, everything is a mess. There must not be a single loose strand, a single gap through which the tension, the light, the truth can escape. I have all the parts of my canvas under control simultaneously. If things are tending to diverge, I use my instincts and beliefs to bring them back together again… Everything that we see disperses, fades away. Nature is always the same, even though its visible manifestations eventually cease to exist. Our art must shock nature into permanence, together with all the components and manifestations of change. Art must make nature eternal in our imagination. What lies behind nature? Nothing perhaps. Perhaps everything. Everything, you understand. So I close the errant hand. I take the tones of colour I see to my right and my left, here, there, everywhere, and I fix these gradations, I bring them together… They form lines, and become objects, rocks, trees, without my thinking about it. They acquire volume, they have an effect. When these masses and weights on my canvas correspond to the planes and spots which I see in my mind and which we see with our eyes, then my canvas closes its fingers. It does not waver. It does not reach too high or too low. It is true, it is full… cited in Cezanne by Ulrike Becks-Malorny, Taschen 2001

Cezanne, Mont Sainte-Victoire

On art and the art of war – Bacon and Cezanne

Some principles of successful military command:

  • Recruit and train forces, divide them up, and arrange them according to the terrain in which they will operate and the opposing arrangements of enemy forces. This requires intelligence, strategy, and imagination.
  • Identify a sufficiently distant goal so as to allow for a wide range of local conditions to emerge on the path to that goal.
  • Provide the forces with time and space in which to operate with relative autonomy in order to explore and adapt to local conditions so as to move towards the objective. This requires diplomacy, political guile, and a certain charm in dealing with those who demand results.
  • Encourage the different individual divisions of the forces to advance with speed or caution as required so as to co-ordinate with each other.
  • Maintain the necessary lines of supply and communication to and between the divisions (resource going to the front).
  • Maintain the necessary lines of supply and communication from the divisions (resource returning to the command).

On art and the battle ground of the canvas:

As i think Deleuze indicates in his book on Bacon, these artists had a deeply strategic understanding of how to enable, command even, their artistic powers. Each of these principles of good command can be seen in their practices. For example, Deleuze describes how for these artists the terrain is sensation, the enemy is figuration (the figural locked to representation), and the relatively autonomous forces are the artistic diagram (a difficult term, capturing a technique in its relation to the figural but not at the mercy of representation). The diagram is unleashed into unanticipated and dangerous territories of sensation:

The diagram is indeed a chaos, a catastrophe, but it is also a germ of order or rhythm. It is a violent chaos in relation to the figurative givens, but it is a germ of rhythm in relation to the new order of the painting. As Bacon says, it "unlocks areas of sensation." Deleuze, Francis Bacon: Logic of Sensation, p.102

Deleuze describes in great detail Francis Bacon's strategy for painting, for creativity, for achieving all of the above for the cause of the campaign, creating paintings that each unlock sensation in a new way. He sees this in all great painters, citing Van Gogh and Klee as well, and of course Cezanne, who was prior to Bacon the most effective documentor of the battle ground of the canvas.

June 25, 2004

Painting and Hysteria

Follow-up to Miro's Chaosmosis, Guattari's Art from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

I am still slowly working my way through Deleuze's book on Francis Bacon, the Logic of Sensation. It is quite superb. In fact I think the most effective (solo) book by Deleuze. If I had more time I would blog extensively about it. When I move to Kenilworth I will have more time, and hopefully might even finish reading it (and the 5 other books i'm in the middle of). Anyway, all i want to say for now is that it's a great primer for looking at any paintings, for example, this helps me to see why Miro is so special:

…there is a special relationship between painting and hysteria. It is very simple. Painting directly attempts to release the presences beneath representation, beyond representation. The colour system itself is a system of direct action on the nervous system. This is not a hysteria of the painter, but a hysteria of painting.