Apr 092011

Who said “All art tends towards the abstract condition of music”? It became the battle-cry of the modern movement but this cliché does not stand up to two minutes scrutiny. Yes, music on the page could hardly be more abstract but music as most of us receive it through the ear speaks directly to the senses – it conjures emotion. Not only does it appeal to the vast majority of humanity; it entrances snakes and many of the lower animals who have no capacity for abstract thought.

Music vibrates to the natural rhythms of the body, the pounding of the heart and the taking of breath. It is not only the python who is moved to dance to its rhythms. How long are we going to go on kidding ourselves that abstract art can fulfil a similar function?

Rembrandt is the artist who has the most universal appeal. My guess is his popularity is based on his observation of human feeling. His insights into human behaviour reverberate to the ends of the Earth. Alas, we cannot include in this wide spectrum of humanity recent generations of Rembrandt scholars. By their continuous de-attributions from Rembrandt’s corpus they have shown themselves impervious to human feeling. Have their hearts been hardened or their sight dimmed by their education in Art History? I suspect so.

see www.saveRembrandt.org.uk