Vercors, contemporary French author artist and critic explained yesterday his belief that the source of art is man's revolt against his fundamental ignorance and his attempt to create "a human universe, comprehensible for man and man alone."
The author of Le Silence de la mer, whose real name is Jean Bruller, spoke at M.I.T.'s Hayden Library on "he Esthetics of Revolt."
Because of the profusion of schools of art and the contradictory interpretations of critics, we have lost sight of the real meaning of art, Vercors said. At bottom the explanation of art lies in man. "There is no art outside of man," he stated.
Instead of searching vainly to define the essence of man, we should try to extract from man all the qualities he has in common with the animals; the residue will be the human quality, Vercors said. We share with animals our instincts and desires, but science, philosophy and art--the expressions of the internal search for what we are--are uniquely human.
Animals Exist Without Question
Animals can exist without questioning their existence, but man alone refuses to submit to this law of ignorance, Vercors stated.
"Man struggles to know what is unknowable...The struggle is a rebellion against his ignorance," he continued.
It is through art that man expresses his defiance of nature, Vercors said. "To show his independence, man must give evidence of his uniqueness; he must show that he can stand apart from the kosmos and view it." He does this through pictures.
Still lifes and portraits represent "pieces of kosmos that we have wrenched apart and carried off with us," Vercors stated. In the next stage of art, man makes freer use of his memory, arranging the facts of nature in his own order to make them say what he wants.
Man the artist works within the two poles of "conquered reality and elaborated unreality." In the former he records his uniqueness from nature by mirroring reality, but the latter is pure abstraction and represents "our ability to build our own world entirely," said Vercors.
The work of the greatest artists reveals "the musical universe of the mind to which they force nature to submit," Vercors maintained. He gave as an example the landscapes of Van Gogh, in which the artist expresses "the painful feeling of rebellion to the point of madness."
When we see art in its proper light, as an expression of man's independence, the problem of conflicting schools of painting disappears, Vercors said