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Patterns of redemption: parachronicity in the work of Piero della Francesca, Frank Zappa and Stanley Spencer

By Michael John Barwell

Abstract

Works of art often refer to one another. Perhaps a closer examination of this relationship occurs if they are theoretically displaced from the sequence of events that contextualise them. Placed side-by-side, they may take on a fresh meaning that might identify artistic intention as universal — as a 'redemptive' statement of Being. \ud Both Piero della Francesca and Stanley Spencer painted 'Resurrection' pictures. The five hundred years that separate them notwithstanding, the reasons for their so doing must bear some comparison. Each made a statement of belief in their depiction of a metaphysical world created primarily in the imagination but housed in cultural milieus that would identify them as 'visionary' amongst their peers. Yet, in many ways, one picture is the antithesis to the other, the first deeply religious, the second highly personal. Regardless of their differences, each work might perpetually and simultaneously strive toward 'the spiritual' in an individual and universal sense.\ud As an artist whose work ostensibly denies any lofty 'spiritual' aspiration whatsoever, Frank Zappa's dismissal of authority, whether couched in religious, musical or sociological terms, marks a valid juxtaposition to current acceptance of artistic form. Not only was it legitimate to invite a musician into the affray, for me it was a vital continuation of my earlier exploration. Zappa seriously challenges the notion of 'feeling' as little more than a pre-set conditioned response to music. I hoped to establish that Zappa's own quest for musical perfection flew in the face of his notorious cynicism, proclaiming his output as 'redemptive' — alongside that of Piero della Francesca and Stanley Spencer.\ud It is the main contention here that as the human predicament requires that the artist should attempt to re-present his vision in order to redefine reality for himself and his peers, the role of artist as 'visionary' is worthy of perennial consideration

Topics: N1, BR, ML
OAI identifier: oai:wrap.warwick.ac.uk:1267

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