1. “If he is an artist he is progressive and if he is progressive he must break with tradition.”
-Louis Horst, from “Chance And Circumstance: Twenty Years With Cage And Cunningham,” (Alfred A. Knopf: 2007), by Carolyn Brown, pg. 97.
2. “So that was what was going on at the turn of the century, that’s almost sixty years ago, say. So actually experimental prosody has been the main tradition in American and English poetry for the better part of the this last century. And so one may say that it is the “Tradition” that the younger poets in America are working on, it’s the “real tradition.” And the paradox is that these younger poets who were working in this tradition have been accused of being aesthetic anarchists, of not working in any “tradition” at all. Unfair! Ignorant accusation! And the problem was that most of the people in the academies, as Pound pointed out very early, were so backward technically, that they didn’t know what was happening to prosody, and naturally it was the poets that were inventing new forms, the academy didn’t catch up with them, the academy itself didn’t study hard enough to find out what was happening. And most professor-critics were not prepared, the ears in the academy were not tuned to recognize what specific forms were being used. So old formalists were not refined enough to be able to recognize and judge new forms and to hear them, much less analyze them, because academic types didn’t recognize anything as “formal” unless t sounded like a familiar nineteenth-century type of form-rhymed accentual quatrains.”
-Allen Ginsberg, from “Allen Ginsberg spontaneous mind: Selected Interviews 1958-1996,” (Perennial: 2002), edited by David Carter, pg. 112.
3. “With a so-so poem you say, ‘Yes that expresses exactly how I feel,’ but with great poetry, thrilling poetry, you say, ‘I never knew I felt like that.”
-Philip Guston, from “A Sweeper-Up After Artists: a memoir,” (Thames & Hudson: 2003), by Irving Sandler, pg. 62.
4. “A few days ago, I was present at a discussion about the theater […] There was some question, I believe, of determining the future orientation of the theater and, in other terms, its destiny.
No one determined anything, and at no time was there any question of the true destiny of the theater, i.e., of what, by definition and essence, the theater is destined to represent, nor of the means at its disposal for realizing this destiny. On the contrary the theater seemed to me a sort of frozen world, its artists cramped among gestures that will never be good for anything again, brittle intonations which are already falling to pieces, music reduced to a kind of arithmetic whose figures are beginning to fade, some sort of luminous explosions, themselves congealed and responding to vague traces of movement- and around all this an extraordinary fluttering of men in black suits who quarrel over the receipts, at the threshold of a white-hot box office. As if the theatrical mechanism were henceforth reduced to all that surrounds it; and because it is reduced to what surrounds it and because the theater is reduced to everything that is not the theater, its atmosphere stinks in the nostrils of people of taste.”
-from “The Theater And Its Double,” (Grove Press: 1958), by Antonin Artaud, pg. 45.
5.“He who does not advance retreats.”
-Diaghilev, from “Rites Of Spring: The Great War And The Birth Of The Modern Age,” (Houghton Mifflin Company: 2000), by Modris Eksteins, pg. 31.
6. “We look at most of the sculptures without incident. But, when we come to the scooter bird, the publisher whispers in my ear: ‘Don’t bother to photograph it. It’s more an object than a sculpture.’ Picasso, who hears and understands everything, whom nothing escapes, suddenly turns toward him, and, pointing to The Bird, says sharply: ‘I absolutely insist that this sculpture appear in my album!’ When the publisher leaves the studio an hour later, Picasso is still seething.
‘An object! So my bird is just an object! Who does that man think he is, to tell me, Picasso, what is or is not a sculpture! He’s got some nerve! I just might know more about it than he does. What is sculpture? What is painting? Everyone’s still clinging to outdated ideas, obsolete definitions, as if the artist’s role was not precisely to offer new ones.’”
-from “Conversations With Picasso,” (University of Chicago Press: 1999), by Brassai [umlaut over “i”] and translated by Jane Marie Todd, pg. 69.
7. “In order to achieve insight, you must work.”
-Kurt Schwitters, from “The Dada Painters And Poets: An Anthology, Second Edition,” (The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press: 1981), edited by Robert Motherwell, pg. xxvii.
8. “Varèse’s declaration that ‘the links in the chain of tradition are formed by men who have all been revolutionists!’ should serve as a reminder that Varèse was talking about forging continuity, not breaking it. When he spoke of freedom for music, he did not mean irresponsible or unlimited freedom, freedom to do absolutely anything. He meant deliverance from outmoded practices statically and thoughtlessly perpetuated, from ‘bad habits’ (‘erroneously called tradition’), and from restrictions on the use of sound materials that modern technology had made accessible.”
-Jonathan Bernard, from “Varèse: Astronomer in Sound,” (Kahn & Averill: 2003), by Malcolm MacDonald, pg. xvii-xviii.
9. “I then began to compose a music dealing precisely with ‘inbetweenness’: creating a confusion of material and construction, and a fusion of method and application, by concentrating on how they could be directed toward ‘that which is difficult to categorize.’”
-Morton Feldman, from “The New York Schools of Music and Visual Arts,” (Routledge: 2002), edited by Steven Johnson, pg. 180.
10. “I think the destructive element is too much neglected in art.”
-Piet Mondrian, from “The Dada Painters And Poets: An Anthology, Second Edition,” (The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press: 1981), edited by Robert Motherwell, pg. xviii.
11. “We were headed outside. We were deliberately breaking some rules. To us, Bird and them were like people who broke ground. We copied them religiously, but that was not the end; we didn’t sacrifice our individualism to do it. There were some on the scene who did, but we didn’t. We started to draw and paint, because we felt like that- doing things differently.”
-Muhal Richard Abrams, from “A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music,” (The University of Chicago Press: 2008), by George E. Lewis, pg. 28.
12.“One is propelled to make what one has not yet made, nor seen made. What one does not yet know how to make.”
-Philip Guston, from “The New York Schools of Music and Visual Arts,” (Routledge: 2002), edited by Steven Johnson, pg. 191.