Circa 1910--Paris, France
|Portrait of Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler|
Pablo Picasso sets the gaze of the artist free to roam around its subject, depicting it from numerous different vantages at once, rather than remaining fixed in place as it had been for thousands of years, bound as it was to the shackles of a motionless observer and classical perspective. He, along with many other concurrent artists, invents Cubism. Its foundation is the flat, static picture plane, these are still traditional paintings, after all. But beyond it, the unmoored eye swirls and floats freely around the depicted subject.
1917--New Orleans, Louisiana
Although what we would come to know as Jazz had been evolving for at least a century or more, its emergence into popular, universal consciousness is difficult to pinpoint. I mean that to say, not just among white audiences, but also among people of Central and South America, Europe, perhaps even Eastern Europe and Asia, and elsewhere outside the Black Diaspora of North America. I am not a Jazz historian, and I'd never pretend to be. Nevertheless, Black musicians incorporate a very important feature into their performance style: improvisation. One musician at a time in a troupe is set free to express his or her own interpretation of the recognized melody. Above the flat, consistent, foundation of the song structure, as the remaining musicians hold steady, an individual performer is set free to express his or her individual interpretation in a fluid and unconstrained manner.
Le Corbusier creates the Villa Stein, for Gertrude Stein's sister-in-law and her husband. Aside from a few sculptural protuberances from the front facade, it is an unapologetic plane. The window sashes are nearly flush with the wall, which appears to dematerialize into a paper-thin sheet of construction. Meanwhile, Corbu invents a "machine for living," whereby he disengages the elements of the house from their traditional moorings. A fireplace, for instance, was normally rooted to a masonry chimney, and for its support therefore rooted to a structural wall. Walls are no longer necessary structurally, which means that all the other elements of the building can be cast adrift. For Corbu, the static foundation is the relentlessly flat facade, beyond which the elements of a living space can swirl around, unencumbered, free to find their natural location.
©2017, Ryan Witte