Aufnahmedatum: 194-?
Dauer: 16:15
Beschreibung: On the right of the artist to deviate from nature. In English.
Signatur: 16/C (16:15); 48/R7 (16:15); 99/R7 (16:07)
Arnold Schoenberg. "Zum Rundgespräch in San Francisco über moderne Kunst." Stil und Gedanke: Aufsätze zur Musik, edited by Ivan Vojtech, pp. 392-396. Arnold Schönberg Gesammelte Schriften 1. Germany: S. Fischer Verlag, 1976. -- In German.


SCHOENBERG: I would like to see the question discussed, whether there existed reasons or causes which forced the artists to abandon imitation of nature and to stylize or conventionalize their works. In our own time, it seems to me that there are some circumstances which have forced painting to abandon nature. It was the photography which never could deliver artistic works, but in every other respect, satisfied the buyer, the purchaser, the audience, the public, in a manner which corresponded to their wishes, as a support of their memory, to see things which they want to remember, and to see things which they otherwise would never have seen. Painting could differ from the achievements of photography only by deviations and, of course, by artistic virtues. That these artistic virtues might easily have been understood as a mannerism rather than as art. This might be wrong, but it might have some influence on many artists. No such cause existed for sculpture. Sculpture still satisfies the purchaser who wants to see resemblance of a portrait, with the model and therefore, at least this branch of this art does not need to deviate from nature. The question is now: why did sculpture also deviate? I always wondered when I saw a picture gallery in the castle of Sans Souci near Berlin, in Potsdam, in which there were a number of portraits which all had one thing in common, one peculiarity. They all portrait things of Hohenzollern or perhaps Kurfu"rste of Brandenburg, with very narrow and long heads, such as one would barely see among men. It seems to me doubtless that also these painters, or painter, or this painter, have stylized or conventionalized their works. Here there was no reason which forced them to abandon nature. It might be that in some Asiatic nations there existed religious laws which forbade true imitation of the image of man. We all know that, for instance, jews were not allowed to reproduce the image of man. This might be partially an explanation for some of the Indian images of man and of many other East-Asiatic nations' products. One might doubt whether they did not do it because of the difficulty to imitate nature in such a perfect manner that the resemblance is satisfying. But it seems to me that this idea is quite wrong. If one compares the skill with which they treated their goldsmiths' works and other metal works, and if one compares the wonderful buildings they understood to erect, then one must give up such an accusation. There must have been the idea of stylizing, of conventionalizing in Egypt and in other Asiatic countries, especially in India. Whether for religious reason or simply for artistic reasons; about this I would like to hear your opinions. In continuation of the preceding part: it seems to me that the right of the artist to deviate from nature is... no that misread...cannot be contested. It was not only in our time, but it was also probably in all times, the tendency of artists to produce a work of art independently of realism, independently of what one really sees. To use his imagination, his fantasy, is certainly the right of an artist, and, admitting this, one must not forget that, for instance, [unintelligible word] Bruegel's paintings are also not nature, they are real imagination.
But on the other hand I would not be so strict to forbid painters to paint what their imagination dictates them, so if they cannot prove that they also can paint something else. That they also can imitate nature. But I know paintings of Kandinsky before he turned to his abstract painting. I know that Kokoschka can draw a wonderful picture, a wonderful portrait in the knick of time, and I know and knew also other painters who had the same ability and nobody can say that they turned away from nature because [of] lack of ability. Doubtlessly the same is true with Picasso and Matisse and many others of these great artists. And it is very agreeable for the lover of art to see that the man who deviates from nature is not forced to do it by lack of ability. Perhaps there are also some other qualities which make the work of one master convincing and fail to do this with others. If one looks at Matisse's "Goldfish and Sculpture," one cannot deny the artistry of this work.
The same seems to me true with Rouault's "Three Judges." This is really very far from nature. Nevertheless, it has such a great expression, especially the central figure looks in such a manner of the criminal that it is very convincing. There is certainly nothing in such works of the "epater le bourgeois" which might be observable in some others of modernistic painters and sculptors. I would not deny the right to "epater le bourgeois," to a young artist. It is his temperament and he might sometimes do something even which he later would perhaps not defend any longer. I have to admit that I applied these viewpoints, because I also applied them in music. In fact, I believe in studying all the technical requirements of musical art thoroughly before turning to modernistic forms, and I believe that there will always be a difference between those who went through these studies and learned everything which one can learn from other... from preceding masters. The minimum is that they always at least learn a certain feeling of balance and of the limits of expression, not to forget the elaboration. An idea in art must be presented in every section and segment of it. I wouldn't go so far as the judgement of Mr. Huxley who finds that it is a unifying means to use only one face for all females. Why only the face? Why only the women? Is the rest not included in this unity? Besides, this idea is very materialistic to produce unity by such a mechanical scheme. The face of a person in movement... in motion is not, in a painting, a very deciding factor. You will rather observe the motion than the face. I also would not call this a formal relationship, I would rather say it's a material relationship. I personally believe in "l'art pour l'art." In the creation of a work of art, nothing should interfere with the real idea. A work of art must elaborate on its own idea and follow the conditions which this idea establishes. This does not mean that an artist must have principles for which he obeys...