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Notebook

Notebook, 1993-

APPROACHES - In The Words Of . . . .

From: Ferrier, Jean-Louis, Director and Yann le Pichon, Walter D. Glanze [English Translation]. Art of Our Century, The Chronicle of Western Art, 1900 to the Present. New York: Prentice-Hall Editions. 1988.

Mecislas Goldberg

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The Geometry of The Soul
1908 - Writings and Theories

Rebuilding the intellect of the line--this, according to his own words, is the goal Mecislas Goldberg pursues in his work 'La morale des lignes' [the morale of lines]. His research was inspired by the work of the designer and caricaturist AndrÚ Rouveyre, a close friend of Matisse and Apollinaire. But what Goldberg says in his book has a more general significance. Written in 1904 and published late that year, it is at the core of contemporary issues, and only his premature death from pulmonary tuberculosis has prevented Goldberg from being the great critic of Cubism. We give the following excerpt to render homage to Goldberg.

We are not yet aware of the mathematical formulas of plastic art, but we can catch a glimpse of certain indelible laws by analyzing significant works, and by applying to them the historic law, the intellectual law, and the sentimental law.

Even when dipping into geometry, one finds precious instructions of esthetic constructions. I am not speaking here of architecture; in this art, nobody would deny the value of lines, of angles, and of curves.

But the mere inspection of a propeller, of an ellipse, of a trajectory, of a cylinder or cone, or of a tangent and its relations suggests ideas of an esthetic that is solid, independent from fleeting sentimentality, from momentary emotion: "The section of a turning cone by a parallel plane in a generator is a parabola, but the section of a cylinder and a turning cone by a plane that meets all points of contact is an ellipse."

The two laws, when applied to the mystery of the flesh, adapted to the rules of stereochemistry and of embryogeny by combining physics and biology, create the form, the face that becomes the "mirror of the soul" to some of us, and a principle of esthetics to others . . . .

All living architecture, like the acoustical chord, has its knots, its rests, it has its polarization centers, and its essential intersections, in the same way that the cross section of a tunnel is "generally" elliptical or oval, or that the arch of bridges is cylindrical, that the arch of suspension bridges is a parabola, that the span of the Pantheon established by Rondelet is made of big arches [elongated ellipsoid, spherical arch, a catenary system], that the arch of the Pantheon in Rome is hemispheric, and that the curve of the cranium, the arch of the mouth, and thousand other curves, junctions, and crossings of the human architecture establish the general character of matter as well as the character of the species, the race, and the personality.

Look at the peasant of the Beauce with his arched back, his great nasal curves, his gnarled limbs and compare him with the stocky Breton or the mountain dweller: You must bow to the geometric law that denounces, so to speak, the plasticity of forms, their relations, their usage, their duration.

Mecislas Goldberg, La morale des lignes

[An Exerpt From: Ferrier, Jean-Louis, Director and Yann le Pichon, Walter D. Glanze [English Translation]. Art of Our Century, The Chronicle of Western Art, 1900 to the Present. New York: Prentice-Hall Editions. 1988. p. 89]




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