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Voices of Europe today Milton mair American author and lecturer broadcaster and professor in the Institute of Social Research from Frankfurt University probes the question of abstract art and abstraction is painting in the Rue companion premier in the Montparnasse section of Paris. There stands a tenement building which in any other city except Paris would be regarded as totally uninhabitable. But because it's Windows enjoy some of the best north light in the city of Paris it is the living quarters and studios of some of the best working artists in the city. It was there that Milton Mayer interviewed Mr. Garth Pilate one of the most distinguished leaders of the modern French school of abstraction is painting. Here is Milton Mayer. I met Miss year Peter way through his next door neighbor another abstraction ist painter Mademoiselle the RELA Rudolf who when I last knew her many many years ago
was growing up on her father's plantation near the village of Benton. In Dallas County Alabama. Between the two of these abstraction assts Mademoiselle Rudolf and miss you say. I want to get to the bottom of this art business while I'm in paradise. I miss you a PJ. When I look at a picture here I want to see a picture of something. But when I look at an abstract painting I don't see a picture of something of a face or a figure of a forest a chair or a platter of fruit. Instead I see what looks to me like a cross between some
geometrical designs done with a compass some primitive American Indian patterns and the kind of doodling that we all do when we're bored. I want to know Miss you Peter Les what abstract art is when you tell me. Yes but I don't speak very well then so my mind wasn't really dark translate for me. Excellent. Yes well I shall be very glad to if I may Bill. Go ahead Miss your people say what is abstract art but you have scraped it but if you do figure it out.
To feel a fit abstract painting is altogether a revolutionary action from pain. Figurative painting that we have known by tradition that is it is a actually a different kind of thing entirely from the classical kind of painting that most of us know right. It is altogether a different approach. Yeah and what is the theory of abstract painting. What is the idea of abstract painting. Why how did it come to be born to lose specie feet this exact amount do you obstinate and up and do you figure I thieved sit up and do you have that
non-pro academe or yank us all up. I happened to sit at the law firm cool a firm lead to men who lived it. Mr Pillay says that abstract painting. Uses only the actual forms of painting a specific form specifically related to the art of painting. For instance the rhythm of the car lies completely without To relationship with any form that we know comes from nature. Would you mademoiselle Rudolph elaborate that a little on your own. Am I to understand that abstract painting is
something outside of nature. Yes Nature as we know it in its general is shaking his head miss you people a person I don't and this and you you think I've been through it. Oh get on it do you think they own the paint do you. Oh that and do you lose it. That meant you sent them the good and made cure in the word in the common sense of the word. You are taking nature in a very much broader then naturally we approach and we live in nature. So anything that is done and it worked out it let me use the word reality. My friends that is the reality of the things we see around us.
And let me ask you if abstract art claims to find a another or a deeper reality than the reality of the things which we see does it. Yes it does because. Abstract painting is more creative. You are not limited by the forms of nature by what everyone sees in a landscape. For instance a painting is more free in and if in the way that he is more three he is closer to himself. Well no that sounds good. Mademoiselle Rudolph but I'm not sure that I understand maybe Mississippi delay can help us a little here. Does the idea of abstract art come from the mind of the artist. Or does it come from the reality outside us he
believes in not even among the exterior you're me in to see me burn to death. I want that kind of heat. They come from outside he said. But they must be did just did more or less within the artist. Let's take a couple of examples. I suppose the painting in the Louve that is best known to most Americans the one that that in France is known as La Gioconda we call it Mona Lisa. Here is what I think you would call a traditional figurative painting. It is the painting of a smiling face. Here is a picture of of a person. And when I look at the Mona Lisa I see a person and I see the character and personality in it.
And this is what I think of as painting. Now let me take an example of abstract art I suppose the one which is best known in America is the famous painting of Kandinsky the Nude Descending a Staircase. Now control yourself mademoiselle Rudolph. This is just answer the professor's question this is an abstract painting is it not. In the first place the painting you mention is not Kandinsky painted by a Frenchman do show which is not abstract and all and I will have to go there. But you have a good example of the artist and in fact he isn't really an abstract art is the first thing I'm trying to think you have a right idea but there own picture. Alright I'm trying to think. Now I can see where you would say this. This new Descending a Staircase which looks to me like a lot of polymer method
writing sliding down the stairs and maybe a few orange crates thrown in. I see why you wouldn't say that was abstract that's too concrete. No because you can see it's a new Descending a Staircase in an abstract painting you don't see a person out. Now let me see what we can do what about what about the patterns of an oriental rug. Is that abstract. Yeah I know you're on the right track. That's abstract painting. Now Mr. Peter do you agree that the pattern of an oriental rug is at least a kind of abstract creation. No not even money. Lit up beyond So on the desert was strict among the car thieves. It sickie do you think you know abstract. Do you know that this week they got the CIT reduced amount good done up and you have said he I'm going to a new Iraq are not going
to look good on any of your TV not good form in the cooler. The point here is that. There is a difference in decorative art and a work of art as in a picture and oriental rugs fall more or less into the. Fear of decorative art which means there is not an essential idea to express. And there it is in the painting an abstract painting. The consistent is more complete in a painting than in an Oriental room. Well let me try it this way. Mr Peter J. Somehow I could imagine a child or at least a boy and the eighth
grade of school if he were given the equipment for mechanical drawing to make planes and circles geometrical figures I can conceive of his producing what would look to me like an abstract painting but I could not conceive of such a boy painting the Mona Lisa. Am I wrong about that. You don't know me. They defy me tweak Lee's own phone fuss superficial on the victim information that is natural to children cannot paint but also neither can children paint what Kandinsky has painted was a member with the same problems. Let me try it this way. How can I tell the difference
between a good abstract painting and a bad one a good one and a poor one. Now see here when I look at the Mona Lisa conned I say this seems to be a very deep representation of reality this is a. The artist has captured this woman's face with all of the meaning in it. But when I look at an abstract painting I have no standard. I can't look at the source of the painting. And in this case the model the woman of lies you know kind of the woman's face I can't I have no source to know standard to base my judgment on as to whether an abstract painting is a good or a poor abstract painting can you help me out on that mess you feel like you feel so yet do you know
what I've been through an investment you don't think this. He phoned me. Yeah yeah I don't suppose he did there's usually mom. Can Happen To You. Abstract I'm overspent you are known to love boys you know I'm of this comfortable music in the movies you'll see the figure I gave to a mom of two and not a painter. We did preserve our service continually says there is just this much different. Just as much chance rather for you to distinguish between good and bad abstract painting. Ever yours for you to distinguish in music or in figurative painting you can't you you may look at a figurative painting painting also painting very much up to nature but you must know how to judge the bad and the good just as you would an abstract painting I miss but you forget it
because it is not a painting it's NOT be not good because it is more carefully copied from nature. This but you forget a component up and you have just let it turn on guys. You could borrow it for the book or the poem because abstract painting is a language and you must first of all be educated into that sort of painting. But it's what you have said is a very revolutionary thought of thinking from if we consider it in relation to the traditional painting which we know better. But is that also true of figurative or traditional painting that you have to be educated to understand it. Yes I think it through. Well let me go back then to the Mona Lisa and it seems to me that I have as a layman
some expert in US in that I have seen women's faces and I find that this is a magnificent representation of all of the spirit that shows in a face there I think I have some standing on the basis of my common everyday experience. Whenever I look at a at a fig. a traditional painting I have seen in reality in nature the subjects of these paintings but I can't and so I feel I have some expertness in a kind of layman's way saying this is a good painting this Mona Lisa is a good painting whereas the painting that my little boy has made of a woman's face with a few bad lines is a bad representation of a woman's face now how am I to distinguish the good from the bad. Abstract painting. Well first of all I'd like to say that you I think you are a person of taste and that you
can decide to have an intuition about a good painting in a bad painting without studying it but it happens. But in an abstract painting that's a question of taste too. But you must acquaint yourself with some of the rooms of abstract painting which is some of this same for instance the Les you said a little while ago. There is for instance the color must be well related. That is something that is the same rule in that you find in figurative painting this but there's a quality gear for the services. Rouge templates you release used to miss you don't happen to figure out do you see them on a figure you sit at the desk. If their name happened to you so you Lim dong dong so you can see it
in family. Isn't it true that what you like Mona Lisa is more or less the literary quality rather than the picture all pictorial quality that you you see the life of this woman with this strange smile and you imagine her life. Something about her more than you really think about the. No one to Kyla. Well then they come to the infinite tag. The head in making it. Well then tell me if I'm wrong I rather suspect I am. You seem to be agreeing with me that when I look at the Mona Lisa I see a representation of reality. But what do I see when I look at abstract art I see there I see composition and color and
form. But what does it represent the Mona Lisa represents the spirit of a woman shining through her face in a certain way. And it also I am sure represents a. A work of genius as far as color or form and composition are concerned and I don't understand that abstract painting represents only the latter. That is composition form and color and does not relate to anything and realize that the shipping layer Green said use it on the sensor to lose it and when one evene is busted because it simply didn't have that up and duly elicited the rest of the New Deal. The docket deep list by the band but me
passed with you on this but you feel like I remember the Monday I miss you see. See them sit down up and down my music. See them live on the only bar to see them die music but I music. He says You think you have quite a literary point of view in regard to painting. You would like to know if you like in music songs of birds so that one finds in the country. Do you like the music for the male of the years. Outside of these sounds of nature. Gosh it would seem to me that the melody of music is also a representation of the melody of nature melodies which we also find in nature.
But why why. Because if you only know the piece about the one that you don't. We had one we had only gotten we've gotten the stupid lay so excited he's speaking English you're doing great mister but like you I had. No means but lose that music. Lovely music you do next because you're going to do you just didn't get a piece you wanted to give so just among you people phoned you can't lie it's an expression of nature he says because it is not copied from nature and therefore it's more profound in its understanding of nature. Let me understanding of the word nature. Let me try to make this still worse for myself. Here I have let us say the finest color a camera made
and I find the actual model of the Mona Lisa smiling at that moment just as the artist caught her and I take a photograph of er with the best color a camera made I have then a perfect reproduction of nature. What is the difference between the photograph I have taken and the painting of the Mona Lisa. Can the artist do more than the camera can let you let you let a man by you see did you did you usually need to do as I want to yank it up and they go on. Do you miss me. Yeah. Bissonnette Monday yeah.
Now that when she exit the honest it is on the content but fanfic is all fake. Man I really J'en sit said phone soonest but you don't leave any city that's it haven't called you on it you don't know now you don't. I'll give you the truth if you don't think of the kiss you good as you dish it Devil then up at you for your TV monitor examines what I should do so if you don't naturally it would be infant child to presume that the. Mona Lisa is not the great work of art of Leonardo da Vinci's not a very great painter but it's not a question of discussing the painter of this sought of painting. The point is that abstract
painting is what only abstract painting can say only painting can say it does not impose on a literary or a musical world. It is strictly in its own sphere whereas the painting of Leonardo da Vinci or bought or Chile is in his youth to the realm of painting and in addition tells the story. Maybe suggests a musical. I do. It is more it is broader than abstract painting but it is outside of its here. Is it because it is broader than an abstract painting is that therefore true or art. No. I don't think because painting.
One can't do everything at once you know you can't have painting music in literary literate two all together. That's why I think it's abstract painting is a pure art because it occupies is occupied with itself rather than infringing upon the other. You say that abstract painting is a purer art. Is this to say that an abstract painting is purer than. Da Vinci or Rembrandt or Titian we don't have songs bent cops Lootie these could be more Yankee song popping up and 2. Yes because they have you abstract painter use only elements of painting. Where is Titian and the painters you mention have played on other.
Do you mean they are telling a story right. Yeah you say in addition to the artistic properties that the picture represent. And whereas the abstract painter is concerned only with the artistic properties. But then is not. Devin chee the better painter because he is the master of the artistic properties which the abstract painter uses and is also able to tell a story which the abstract painter doesn't do. First of all great art never tells the story. There is sometimes a story involved but the important thing about a great painting is not the story. On what basis can you argue that abstract art
will endure in the way that the traditional masters have endured in the way that Titian and Michelangelo in the way that Michelangelo is as great today as he was when he painted and in the way in which we assume that he will be as great 500 years from now as he is today. Is there any reason for supposing that abstract art is a genuinely new form of art which will be as great and which will endure as long as Michelangelo. Yes. Let us know foamy. It could happen to have spread via internet came up and sank on town and put them on the sea. Yeah they get of as an event metal event even and don't.
Mistake the laces. We're not profit however you must remember that abstract painting has only about 50 years of experience yet one can only say as when a child is born where they're going whether it's going to live or whether or not to put into an old age. One does not know but one can say that abstract painting is a child in good health at the moment. I think the ship people a man of his own Rudolph that with you are extremely complicated assistance. I have come to understand all there is to be understood about abstract art. Thank you very much Milton mare Today has been probing the question of abstract art in this program of the series voices of Europe those
Voices of Europe
Abstract art
Producing Organization
National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program features a joint interview with abstract painters Edgard Pillet and Rella Rudolph on abstract art.
Other Description
Interviews with noted Europeans on a variety of subjects, conducted by Milton Mayer, American author and broadcaster, lecturer and professor in the Institute of Social Research at Frankfurt University.
Broadcast Date
Global Affairs
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Interviewee: Pillet. Edgard
Interviewee: Rudolph, Rella
Interviewer: Mayer, Milton, 1908-1986
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 52-37-64 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:30
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Chicago: “Voices of Europe; Abstract art,” 1954-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 20, 2022,
MLA: “Voices of Europe; Abstract art.” 1954-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 20, 2022. <>.
APA: Voices of Europe; Abstract art. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from