” One of The ‘Literary Cubists’” – Eliot and Visual Art

Posted: January 21, 2019 in Uncategorized

“In the room the women come and go / Talking of Michelangelo
[Blah, blah, blah …]”

— T.S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (1915)

If amateur art appreciation was for Eliot the target of satire, no more was he an unqualified admirer of specialised art criticism. In a letter to Ezra Pound in 1915, Eliot wrote, ‘I distrust and detest Aesthetics, when it cuts loose from the Object, and vapours in the void’. In the same letter: ‘please tell me who Kandinsky is.’ Perhaps, then, we should assume that Eliot’s interest in contemporary developments in avant-garde art was minimal.

But this would be to ignore his deep immersion, during the crucial years when his mature style was formed, in a milieu of intense artistic excitement where developments in painting and sculpture assumed a dominant role in the discussion of advanced art and culture in general.

Wassily Kandinsky
Exotic Birds
(1915)
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