"In a masterstroke of design, the curator of Chaos and Classicism, Kenneth Silver, chose a work of art to illustrate the Nazi annexation of neoclassicism that at first glance is anything but threatening. The Four Elements by Adolf Ziegler decorated the walls of Hitler's Munich apartment. A member of the Nazi Party, Ziegler was charged by Hitler in 1937 to stage-manage the purge of modern art in the notorious Exhibition of Degenerate Art. Ziegler's depiction of four nude women who symbolize fire, earth, air and water, the four elements of nature recognized in antiquity, personifies little but the pretentious sterility of culture under the Third Reich. Yet, it is the perfect embodiment of the banality of evil."
(Ed Voves, 4 October 2010)
Fig.1 Adolf Ziegler, The Four Elements: Fire, Water and Earth, Air, (Die vier Elemente. Feuer, Wasser und Erde, Luft), before 1937, Oil on canvas, three panels, left to right: 170.3 x 85.2 cm, 171 x 190.8 cm, and 161.3 x 76.7 cm, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Sammlung Moderner Kunst in der Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich.
"The French poet and filmmaker, Jean Cocteau, is usually given the credit for the title by which the neoclassical revival of the 1920′s and early 1930′s is known. Le Rappel a l’ordre or the Call to Order summoned the civilized world to its senses. These were the very organs, you will recall, that had been ripped away by a shell fragment in Dix’s Skin Graft.
This 'call to order' actually had its roots in French wartime propaganda. The virtues of France’s Latin-based civilization were ranged against the Teutonic brutalism of the Germans. Before the war, néoclassicisme had languished like a discarded stage prop. In 1918, with the 'Huns' surging for a second time toward the gates of Paris, Cocteau and others summoned the cultural icons of Greece and Rome to join the Allied ranks. That year, Cocteau published a book, Le Coq et l’Arlequin, which he revised and renamed in 1924 as Le Rappel a l’ordre. The message was the same, without the 'us versus them' jingoism of the war: civilization must look to its ancient past to regain its bearings and enhance its vitality.
Cocteau’s thesis found an appreciative audience in many circles, including the United States. According to French writer Jacques Maritain, 'what makes the purity of the true classic is … a subordination of the matter to the light of the form.' The discipline and dedication of the artist would admit only the essential elements of art into the work being created, excluding anything that would 'debauch' the senses of the viewer."
(Ed Voves, 4 October 2010)
"in 2001, Peter Wollen wrote a rather impressionistic piece on Situationism for the New Left Review, in which he discussed the Danish artist Asger Jorn and his 1948 essay, 'What is Ornament?'. Jorn, a founding Situationist and also an appallingly sloppy painter, had a quaint view of art:
For Jorn, the pairing of European versus oriental ran together with other pairings, such as classical versus spontaneous, idealist versus materialist, Apollonian versus Dionysiac, with Jorn supporting the second term throughout-oriental, materialist, spontaneous, Dionysiac, and so on.
Further, for Jorn:
the nature of art is not to imitate the external forms of nature (naturalism) but to create natural art. Natural sculpture which is true to its material will be identical to nature's forms without seeking to imitate.
Jorn thus compares a minaret to a horsetail, and a totem-pole to a chestnut branch; the non-Western forms are seen as more organic, more rooted in the natural world."
(Conrad H. Roth)
[A critique of a romantic and 'essentialist' view of art and design.]
"Situated knowledges have to do with communities (or affinities), not isolated individuals."Situated knowledges require that the object of knowledge be pictured as an actor or agent, not as a screen or a ground or a resource...." Haraway points specifically to social science projects where the agency of subjects transforms the project of producing social theory and science. However, in the biological sciences, the objects of knowledge are also contingent, not static. In other words, we never have recourse to realism."