Just Before Modernism

Why is the period just before modernism so important to me? I was watching a show on PBS about Paris in the modernist period. When I turned the television on, it was already on the friendship between Braque and Picasso. I stopped watching at Duchamp.

The art, the poetry, the Paris scene, all were magnificent. But it was as though, despite its magnificence, or perhaps because of it, I had no use for modernism. It was already complete in and of itself, it had already achieved the highest it would achieve. And I could do nothing with it.

I think I keep going back to the period before modernism because it still feels incomplete, filled with possibility. It’s still the beginning of something, rather than the fulfillment of it. I find more inspiration in an art nouveau fan than in Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.

I was looking through my photographs from the Museum of Fine Arts and found a few more paintings that I would put in Mother Night’s house:

Compared to Picasso, these paintings are pleasant, painterly, tame. And yet they inspire me to write things, whereas Picasso stops me from writing. And in a way, they rather than Picasso are the precursors to an artist like Patrick Dougherty.

Perhaps they represent to me a world in which fantasy is still possible, whereas by the time we get to Picasso and Braque, that world seems to have passed away, as though World War I had killed all the fairies.

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