Three Predictions Concerning Art

Some interesting predictions concerning art in the future emerged during the last two centuries. Almost all of them were related to the thinking on art stared in the Renaissance. Namely, since Vasari introduced the concept of the history to art, European thinking on art relied on temporal aspect of artistic phenomena such as earlier - later, it was - it was not yet.

The first prophecy, by Hegel, appeared in the nineteenth century. Hegel in a fit of some inexplicable intuition, announced the end of Christian art. He stated that theological conditions, necessary for its existence, disappeared, that authentic art is no longer possible, it lost its deepest substantiations and that Western art will enter decay, get lost in the pure concept and it will be replaced by philosophy. That's Hegel.

Two subsequent predictions appeared in more recent times. Let's start from the most concise, concerning art as spiritual activity that can not thrive in non-religious conditions. "XXI century will be an age of spirituality or it won't be at all", this sentence of A. Malraux, the author of the monumental trilogy "Metamorphosis of Gods", in a lapidary way diagnoses the spiritual state of a man and indirectly, the art of XX century. At the same time, he makes us aware that entire Western art reached a critical point.

The third prediction, Alexander Kojeve's prediction is connected with Hegel's concept of the development of art. In his "Aesthetics" Hegel recognized the development of art as manifestation of the development of the idea of God. But if faith is dead, the art ceased to feed on what is necessary condition for the development of its forms of spirituality. On the other hand, Alexandre Kojeve, a staunch exegete of Hegel, came to the conclusion that we live in a post-historic and post-human time and we will cultivate art in the image of the animals. "If a man become again an animal, his art, love and fun have to become purely natural also. It should therefore be concluded that after the end of history, people will rise buildings and create work of arts as birds build nests and spiders weave networks." Interestingly, Kojeve ( Kozewnikow) was a relative of millenarist and abstractionst Vasil Kandynski, who believed that he freed the painting from the tyranny of the visible world and that there will approach a period of great and deep spirituality in art.

It's not difficult to note that many elements of these forecasts came true and were confirmed in the phenomena that occurred in the art of the late twentieth and early twenty -first century. In particular, it is visible in numerous tomfoolery of postmodern artists. It might seem that generally we live in post- painting times. Of course, as some claim, paintings will be still appear, there will be organized openings, exhibitions, auctions But in fact, it is the end of paintings and perhaps art in general. Those are the consequences of introducing history and concept of "development" to thinking on art. Temporal mode of thinking on art presupposes a kind of sequence as well as a final and end... But if we think about art as the structure of various levels, various relationships, connections which mutually penetrate, there is hope for saving a painting. If it happens in the area of Euro-American art? Difficult to say. Perhaps in another civilization.

A few months ago, during a conversation with an venerable master of eternal forms from Cracow, I expressed the view that probably we are witnessing irreversible decline of painting. To my surprise the Master, weakened by ailment of old age, suddenly said with power: "Painting will never die." Then I asked myself: Are there Masters in the consciousness of the West? Do they exist at all?
I think that in times of general looseness and confusion we should try to find them or, at least, keep in mind this question.

("Informator ZPAP - Okręg Krakowski" nr 1, 2005)

Władysław Podrazik