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The Saints of Modern Art: The Ascetic Ideal in Contemporary Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, Music, Dance, Literature, and Philosophy

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This group of essays and interviews offers a wide-ranging interdisciplinary inquiry into the nature of contemporary art and thought through the lens of a trend toward asceticism that Charles A. Riley II views as "a fundamental component of the psychological and ethical dimensions of the artistic and philosophical life." The views, practices, and works of artists like Brice Marden, Peter Halley, Jasper Johns, and Agnes Martin, composers including Philip Glass, Steve Reich, and Tan Dun, and writers such as Walter ...
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1998 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. . Lively essays that explore "the pursuit of perfection" in contemporary art, architecture, dance, literature and philosophy. ... Illustrated. 392 p.; 1.34" x 9.18" x 6.31". Includes Illustrations. Read more Show Less

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Overview

This group of essays and interviews offers a wide-ranging interdisciplinary inquiry into the nature of contemporary art and thought through the lens of a trend toward asceticism that Charles A. Riley II views as "a fundamental component of the psychological and ethical dimensions of the artistic and philosophical life." The views, practices, and works of artists like Brice Marden, Peter Halley, Jasper Johns, and Agnes Martin, composers including Philip Glass, Steve Reich, and Tan Dun, and writers such as Walter Abish and Seamus Heaney are intermingled with those of choreographers such as Pina Bausch and Merce Cunningham, stage directors including Robert Wilson, and architects including I. M. Pei, among many others.

Besides exploring the relationship between artists' life and work, Riley considers broader cultural issues such as the role of Classicism in contemporary art, the interaction of Western and Asian traditions, the rise of spirituality as a theme, and the paradox of asceticism, which implies a denial of the senses but in art involves an appeal to the senses. In the end, this suite of interrelated essays addresses in a fascinating and accessible way what Riley calls "one of the most vital (and misunderstood) creative forces in contemporary art, architecture, music, dance, literature and philosophy: the pursuit of perfection."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780874517651
  • Publisher: University Press of New England
  • Publication date: 5/1/1998
  • Pages: 371
  • Product dimensions: 6.31 (w) x 9.18 (h) x 1.34 (d)

Meet the Author

CHARLES A. RILEY II has written extensively for World Art, Art and Antiques, Art and Auction, Antique Monthly, Opera News, and Fortune magazines. He is author of Aristocracy and the Modern Imagination (UPNE, 2001), Color Codes: Modern Theories of Color in Philosophy, Painting and Architecture, Literature, Music and Psychology (UPNE, 1995), and coeditor of Preserving the Built Heritage (UPNE, 1997) and The Arts in the World Economy (UPNE, 1994). He is Associate Professor of English at Baruch College/CUNY
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface
Introduction: From Gravity to Grace 1
I The Ascetic Ideal in Contemporary Painting 23
The Habit of Perfection 26
The Floating World 36
Written in White 47
Pilgrimage to the Sublime 53
A Mind of Winter 61
Instant Apotheosis 67
The Priestess of Perfection 72
Traveling the Ellipse 77
Sense and Sensibility 82
The Prison House of Abstraction 93
Effacing the Grid 101
White Light 104
Pursuing the Line 107
II Asceticism and Sculpture 113
The Solitude of Objects 116
Drawing in Air 123
Caught in the Web 135
An Art of Meditation 141
Present Perfect 147
Virtue Like Jade 150
The Noiseless, Patient Sculptor 155
The Art of Public Withdrawal 158
III Asceticism and Architecture 164
The Prophet 165
The Priest 171
The Mandarin 175
Our Glassy Essence: A Few Contemporary Architects 179
IV Asceticism in Music and the Dance 182
The Ascetic as Dandy 189
The Voice of Angels 193
Musician of Silence 198
Complexity and Contradiction 210
The Master Craftsman 212
The Lawmaker 218
The Last Puritan 226
Asceticism in the Dance 236
The Taskmaster 239
Silent Redemption 243
The Wizard of Solitude 248
Our Lady of Pain 252
V Asceticism in Literature and Philosophy 254
The Comfortable Hermit 258
Elected Silence 262
The Poet of Purity 266
Delicious Recoil 270
Sages in the Holy Fire 273
A World of Cinders 277
The Sensible Ascetic 279
The Habit of Indifference 282
Metaphysics in Retreat 285
Baroque of the Void 288
Corrected Out of Existence 292
The Freedom of Nothingness 298
Blood on Snow 302
An Effaced Order 305
The Poet as Pilgrim 307
How Perfect Is It 312
Notes 321
Bibliography 333
Index 341
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