In this article a case is made for the consideration of Twentieth Century art as a scientific analysis of the work of art.
The avant-gardes develop an analysis of the work of art in order to determine the essence of art. The variety of styles that the three main trends generate, are a consequence of the absolute necessity to determine the elements involved in the creation of a work of art. Because the avant-gardes were generated through a technical analysis, we consider that their origin corresponds to a scientific tendency of art.
Just as we understand that the orbits of the planets are determined by their own characteristics, and that, inversely, the character of our children is determined by the order of their birth, Twentieth Century art trends occupy a place and hold certain properties imposed by one law: that of applying philosophical principles to art, something that philosophy or criticism has not even imagined about.In his book “On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason”, Schopenhauer explains that nothing occurs without a cause. A cause is all that necessarily produces an effect. The knowledge we derive from a phenomenon occurs thanks to three abilities the human being possesses: sensibility, instinct and reason. Sensibility allows us to know a priori the qualities of an object: its position in space and time. Instinct allows us to know physical phenomena, what is identified through experience or perception of the senses. And reason allows us to draw conclusions by the use of judgment and concepts. Therefore, a person has at its disposal three different kinds of information to understand each phenomenon, which is known as the Principle of Sufficient Reason (P.S.R.) of being, becoming and knowing. The fourth root that Schopenhauer studies are motives, which only exist together with consciousness, and therefore are only possessed by humans. When we applied this theory to Twentieth Century art, we realize that it can explain it, and this is because scientific analysis has been widespread within the subject and therefore manifested in his actions.
The definition of art, which comprises idea, matter, figure and technique, corresponds with the forms of knowledge: geometry, transformation, knowledge and action.
The artistic styles developed at the beginning of the Twentieth Century were completely determined when art accepted the principle that “everything has to be understandable in order to be understood”1, once the artist applied the scientific principles to art. As we have already mentioned, the study focused on the visible aspects of the work of art, i.e., matter, form and technique, and on to which the P.S.R. of becoming, acting and knowing would be applied. At the same time, the application of the three principles of reason to the first of those qualities, matter, has a philosophical foundation, thus the P.S.R. of knowing would permit us to understand the object as a materialistic phenomenon which gave rise to Conceptual art. Through the P.S.R. of becoming we know the current state of matter, whose essence (or substance) is analyzed by Materialistic art. Finally, the P.S.R. of being, which studies space and time considerations, would deal with the transcendental aspects of matter giving rise to Abstract art.
Likewise, the artist of the Twentieth Century will apply these three principles to the second material aspect of the work of art: the technique of representation, whose objective is to assure that the work of art has a real connection to the reality it attempts to depict and that it is captured as faithfully as possible, so that it can be identified. In order to do this, the artist will first study in depth the position of the figure in space and time, secondly, the present configuration of the figure, and thirdly, the composition of the figure; all this according to the P.S.R. of being, becoming and knowing. We have solved the enigma that has preoccupied Twentieth Century intellectuals, the ultimate meaning of cubism: Trying to determine how the artist develops his representations is therefore the application of the principle of reason of knowing to the technical phase of the material construction of the work of art. According to the principle of reason, its forms of knowledge, i.e., the geometrical, analytic and synthetic, correspond to the study of each of the cases being developed.Both the study of the matter and that of the technique of representation deal with the same issues: geometry or the position in space; changes in the matter or its current limits; and through the object which it is depicted or by the elements that conform it. Each study does it in its own convenient way but always concerning the same issues.
The third aspect studied by scientific art is the figure it represents. This would be the application of the P.S.R. of acting, of the motivation in its outer meaning, since what is perceptible of this type of motivation is expression, which is what is perceived and depicted. The act that carries out and that produces the image that is transmitted, that is to say what is known through empirical perception, is the consequence of motives. The result of applying theory to art is the expressionism, laden with social content. We can also identify, but because of different reasons, its three forms in the French fauvism, the Blue Rider and the Bridge; that would become the ultimate expressionism.
Therefore, the avant-gardes resulting from a scientific tendency, because they constitute a rational approach to art, have generated three different movements according to the constructive qualities contemplated in each work of art. When the artist has dealt with matter, he has done so unconsciously within a trend we could call “material” trend. When the technique of representation becomes the object of the analysis, then we are dealing with a “technicist” trend. And when we analyze the attitudes adopted by the depicted figures, then we are dealing with a “figurist” trend, in which an authentic representation seems to exist. Even though this trend, under closer examination, is also the theoretical study of such attitudes and not the representation of a scene.
1. Note: F. Nietzsche, “Socrates and Tragedy”:
When the Greek tragedy begun declining, Euripides begun looking for a transformation in his work since his prior works were not being understood. Therefore he invented well defined characters but not as profound as those of Aeschylus and Sophocles. His heroes were depicted just as they were, but they were not more than this representation.