Friday, October 29, 2004 +

A Letter from Peter Brooke

Peter Brooke is the author of Albert Gleizes: For and Against the Twentieth Century.

Re: Icons and Kitsch
Fri, 29 Oct 2004 09:12:53 +0000


I found this essay very interesting. Disagreed with it of course as you expected I would but it does pose some of the problems. Immensely frustrating for me that the man who really did address these problems - Gleizes - isn't yet at the centre of the debate.

One immediate thought in response is that the non-representational school and the icon school (to both of which I am attached) isn't necessarily anti-nature. We of Gleizes' school would argue that to copy the external appearances of nature is a hopeless business not because nature and material reality are corrupt but on the contrary because God's creation is so rich and so constantly changing. The non-representational 'rhythmic' painting is a participation in nature. The same principles of colour and form that we love in the natural world are used by the artist in the circumstances - so radically different from those of the natural world - imposed by the canvas/wall.

That's one thought. The other is that no-one who has seen the horrors of Russian icon painting in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries could fail to be grateful for the revival of interest in the older icons in the nineteenth century. And on Maria Laach; it was I understand attached to the Benedictine monastery at Beuron which pioneered both Gregorian chant following Solesmes and the artistic/geometrical 'School of Beuron' in painting and sculpture. I can't remember if in our earlier exchanges I told you that I had produced a book of writings by Fr Lenz, founder of the School of Beuron (Desiderius Lenz: The Aesthetic of Beuron, Francis Boutle publishers).

Do you think there would be copyright problems if I used Oakes' article (in your edited version with a link to the original) as one of the 'Occasional Papers' on my Brecon Discussion Group website?

Best wishes