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by Cristian Rodrigo Iturralde  

   Undoubtedly , one of the most important subversive processes that has escaped the common eye is this, that of the field of "art." I would even go so far as to say that this has been – still is – perhaps the most decisive of the praetors of the counterculture, its most incisive and dangerous vehicle, for the reason that its effects on people and his thought, conditioning his actions. From psychoanalysis and especially from the discoveries of Freud, it was possible to establish the existence of an "unconscious" state in the constitution of the psychic apparatus of the human being that was added to the conscious and the preconscious. And this unconscious system is made up mainly of repressed content that has been prevented from accessing consciousness, precisely because of the mechanism of repression. As we have already said, based on this thesis, Marxism is faced with an invaluable tool to condition man: under a façade of art or culture, it was necessary to generate sneaky disruptive messages that, once apprehended by the unconscious, would break their repressive barriers. and they could be transpolated to the "conscious" sphere of the individual.


    But first things first: What is art and what is its object? Let's start by saying that since the beginning of civilization, art was considered at the same level as philosophy and theology, understood as a legitimate means and path of transcendence. Aristotle, for example, tells us that: "In art it has the capacity to move the spirit and, consequently, lead it to a catharsis that means a spiritual purification of feelings." In complete symmetry with the classical vision, John Paul II teaches that: "Art invites us to develop the beauty of existence, fully living its moral demands, and to search tirelessly for the truth." The most specific definition in this regard is found in a recently published work by the Chilean artist Ricardo Ramírez:


Art is: "the  way of wise creation (with ethics and aesthetics) of works (of excellence - areté) beautiful, true and good, without practical use (using the body and matter, actions, images, sounds, language), which pursues Beauty (that that shines and illuminates the soul), and through it, communicates to the superior senses (sight and hearing), in a clear and objective way, essential aspects of the multidimensional reality (material and spiritual), with an axiological purpose, connecting the spectator with the transcendental (revealing the truth)”[1]

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Evidently, beauty is –it must be-- an inseparable part of the work of art. But what is beauty? The ancients taught that things are beautiful to the extent that they are good and are good to the extent that they pursue their purpose, and the purpose is the good of each thing. Can we know the beautiful? What would be its attributes? Of course, the beautiful is knowable as well as the ugly. How many times have we been stunned by sublime artistic pieces or even dumbfounded by the disgust generated in us by a certain work considered to be art -because of its grotesque or absurd nature-, having the impression that a five-year-old child could have made it? The latter -what prevails today in the artistic world- happens when this discipline moves away from its constitutive purposes and regulations. That is why art, like philosophy and theology, acts as a pedagogical instrument and a vehicle for approaching the human being towards the true and the transcendent, tending or having among its qualities "harmony, order, proportion, symmetry, perfection, balance, rhythm, canon, golden section, etc., typical of an invisible architecture, capable of pleasing the eye and the ear, and captivating the spirit. All beauty is nothing more than a fragment of a great universal beauty”, Ramírez tells us. Its description is validated by Plato himself, for whom the fundamental characteristic of beauty is luminosity, and its function is to awaken love (and therefore, beauty is the good, the good) - and by Aristotle, who defines to beauty as "harmony".

With the irruption of Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) -particularly through his Critique of Judgment- a process of disfigurement of art and its objects begins, especially by affirming that beauty is only subjective and that the human being would not have the ability to access reality. In short, then, the beautiful would not depend on the objective value of the work (it does not obey aesthetic judgments) but on the perception and sensitivity of the recipient. And from conceptions like these, the main breakthrough movements within this sphere will emerge in the following century; the so-called «avant-garde art», which will completely break with the traditional vision of it. For Hicks, modernist art “is a statement of content, a demand for an acknowledgment of the truth that the world is not beautiful. The world is fractured, decadent, horrible, depressing, empty and, ultimately, unintelligible”. And this logic is inscribed again in Kant, who denies that man is capable of objectively knowing what is outside his mind: all human judgment is relative to the extent that his idea of things comes from his own thought and not from a thing that exists independently of human existence. There are no universals or absolute truths for them.

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This artistic movement that emerged and consolidated at the beginning of the 20th century will cover all cultural dimensions (painting, literature, sculpture, music, etc.) and will have a series of particular and distinguishable characteristics, which could be summed up in its openly revolutionary spirit. From here the total break with traditional art is demanded, which they consider not only obsolete but also functional to the status quo, still dominated by traditional structures and Christian morality. For them, art should not be neutral or descriptive but rather eminently ideological, rebellious, political. Accordingly, a clearly provocative character will be imprinted on it, exalting in its representations the violence and aggressiveness of objects, their strident colors, geometric designs, the exaltation of the unconscious, of the merely rational, of passion and individualism, etc. Where the destructive intentionality of that modern art is most clearly manifested is in the modification of the essential structure of the work of art, affirming, for example, that the form should coincide with the content. In this way, this art should now dispense with the use of traditional forms of perspective and color, since that supposes an ordered, integrated and, above all, knowable reality. And this is the key and central objective of that dissolving art: to eliminate any cognitive connection to an external reality. 

The true, the beautiful, the desirable or the objective no longer matter here, but rather the original novelty that the artist carries within. The novel, the scandalous, the absurd, is for them the truly authentic (see but Marcel Duchamp's "urinal", 1917). Art is now rated and evaluated based on the disgust and conceptual impact it causes on the viewer. Let us consult, for example, the founding act of «Dadaism»:

The DD system will set you free, break everything. You are the masters of everything you break. Laws, morals, aesthetics have been made so that you respect fragile things. What is brittle is bound to be broken. Try your strength only once: I dare you not to continue afterwards. What you don't break will break you, it will be your master.


In the case of painting, at the beginning of the last century, the painter Kandinsky broke with the last sacred contents that existed in painting, because until then it was the transcendent that impregnated the spirit of art. Then detecting religion as an alienating factor in art, the revolutionaries began to deal with all its manifestations. Thus, the painter Georges Mathieu affirmed that: "We must unleash the liberation of all previous aesthetics. An aesthetic art of consciousness will replace an aesthetic consciousness of art", and added: "We are at the dawn of a new art that will unleash unspeakable processes, a new art that will create a new man". In this sense, Pablo Picasso was undoubtedly the greatest revolutionary in the plastic arts, especially through «Cubism»; “a monster of demolition”, Joaquín García de la Concha calls the Spanish painter.

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