Art and the expression of Meaning (found in music?)

Munich, September 1910. Final rehearsal for the world premiere of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony, in the Neue Musik-Festhalle.

It is well known, that great art was many times inspired by great music. So did Mahler’s music inspire artists like Rodin, Kandinsky and most likely plenty others.   “En plus” it was on this day that for the last time in his lifetime a work of Mahler was premiered; his symphony n°8 (which has been used for the final scene of Faust).

But I’m drifting of, so as said above Kandinsky was inspired by his music. It is crucial to understand that modern art has usually been conceived as an art of creative expression. Therefor it is obvious to believe, to think of art as a reflection of the artist’s intentions. Kandinsky call’s for painting to move away from merely representation of objects toward works that arise from the “inner need”. It is the triumph of subjectivity and therefore a loss in objectivity.

“Kandinsky took music as the model how painting might free itself from objective limits and become more expressive” – This is his desire for a “music of painting”. But why? Well, for some centuries music has been the art which has devoted itself not to the reproduction of natural phenomena, but rather to the expression of the artist’s soul.

A painter who finds no satisfaction in mere representation, however artistic, in his longing to express his inner life, cannot but envy the ease with which music, the most non-material of the arts today, achieves this end. He naturally seeks to apply the methods of music to his own art. And from this results the modem desire for rhythm in painting, for mathematical, abstract construction, for repeated notes of color, for setting color in motion. – W. Kandinsky

W. Kandinsky – Composition 7

Auguste Rodin – Gustave Mahler

A totally different view on Mahler , but non the less interesting is his death mask, now obscured and well forgotten, subdued by photography. It’s the art (or rather was) of immortalizing the death

“A death mask is a wax or plaster cast made of a person’s face following death. Death masks may be mementos of the dead, or be used for creation of portraits. It is sometimes possible to identify portraits that have been painted from death masks, because of the characteristic slight distortions of the features caused by the weight of the plaster during the making of the mold. In other cultures a death mask may be a clay or other artifact placed on the face of the deceased before burial rites.  The best known of these are the masks used by ancient Egyptians as part of the mummification process, such as Tutankhamon’s burial mask.”

Gustave Mahler death mask

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