Krajcberg set an independent course by rejecting the art mediums, creative processes, and themes that defined these vanguard movements.
Krajcberg was born in Poland, moved to Russia after losing his family in the Holocaust. Then, in 1948, he moved to Brazil. Nonetheless, it is French art history that is featured in this assignment because that is where Krajcberg was introduced to modern art movements, and where he set an independent course by rejecting the art mediums, creative processes, and themes that defined these vanguard movements.
Tachism, for example, was practiced in Paris after World War II and through the 1950s. Its American equivalent is ‘action painting’ or ‘abstract expressionism’. The inspiration for most of the artists associated with these movements originated in pure emotion divorced from any representational source. As such, Tachist paintings are distinguished by spontaneous gestures that appear as drips, stains, and splatters. The movement is associated with Hans Hartung, Pierre Soulages, and Georges Mathieu, to name a few.
Nouveau réalisme (new realism) refers to an artistic movement founded by the art critic Pierre Restany and the painter Yves Klein. Restany wrote the original manifesto for the group in 1960 proclaiming that Nouveau Réalisme means “a poetic recycling of urban, industrial and advertising reality”20. Its American counterpart was Pop Art. Artists created their work out of mass-produced commercial products. New realism is associated with Arman, Daniel Spoerri, and Jean Tinguely, to name a few.
Despite the intense emotionality of his late work, Krajcberg rejected Tachism because the tachist artist’s expressiveness was originated within the ‘self’. Krajcberg, on the other hand, was inspired by the materials, forms, and functions that surrounded him. Furthermore, he rejected New Realism because it reinforced humanity’s sovereignty over natural forces instead of conformity to them and respect for them.
The alternative vision he pursued is detailed in the Negro River Naturalist Manifesto that he signed together with Pierre Restany and Sepp Baendereck in 1978. It introduced the concept of ‘naturalism’, the proposition that the human mind and senses can be purified by tapping the planet’s vital energy sources. These energy sources remain palpable in virgin forests and wild regions. The manifesto explains, “We experience today two meanings of nature: the ancestral part of the planet and the modern one of industrial urban conquest. What is really important is that these two meanings are to be experienced and assumed in the totality of the ontological structure of each of them. The integral naturalism, in opposition to realisms, is not a metaphor of power, but hygiene of perception, another state of sensibility, the individual passage to the planetary conscience.”21
Select an example of Tachism and an example of new realism by any of the artists identified in the preceding paragraphs. Compare them to an example of natural realism by Frans Krajcberg. Discuss how the principles that define each movement are manifested in your selections.
20 Pierre Restany, Nouveau Realisme Manifesto. http://www.cnac-gp.fr/education/ressources/ENS-newrea-EN/ENS-newrea-EN.htm
21 Leon Kaplan, “Frans Krajcberg Brazil’s Eco Sculptor”, Artfocus Toronto, Fri, Mar 13, 2009
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