The White Rectangle

Posted: February 26, 2019 in Uncategorized

Ideally, it is possible to elude the interpreters in another way, by making works of art whose surface is so unified and clean, whose momentum is so rapid, whose address is so direct that the work can be . . . just what it is. Is this possible now? It does happen in films, I believe. This is why cinema is the most alive, the most exciting, the most important of all art forms right now. Perhaps the way one tells how alive a particular art form is, is by the latitude it gives for making mistakes in it, and still being good.

– Susan Sontag

There is, however, one art that, by its very nature, escapes theater entirely–the movies. This helps explain why movies in generally, including frankly appalling ones, are acceptable to modernist sensibility, whereas all but the most successful painting, sculpture, music, and poetry is not. Because cinema escapes theater–automatically, as it were–it provides a welcome and absorbing refuge to sensibilities at war with theater and theatricality. At the same time, the automatic, guaranteed character of the refuge–more accurately, the fact that was is provided is a refuge from theater and not a triumph over it, absorption not conviction–means that the cinema, even at its most experimental, is not modernist art.

– Michael Fried


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