André Malraux: The Voices of Silence (1951/1974)

30 April 2014, dusan

“This is not a history of art, but a work on the sculptor’s and painter’s arts of the world by a passionate art lover. The organization is by ideas; the illustrations are drawn from all peoples, countries, and times. Each picture is placed within a page or two of its discussion in the text. As an idea develops, the places and periods of its illustrations wander. The coherence is an inward one, not one of objective order.

Malraux starts from the premise that with the broadening of our knowledge of the world, and especially by the aid of archeology and photography, the many visual arts developed by the human race in its history are now mainly known and accessible. They are as it were in one grand museum without walls–the museum of our cognizance.

Further, they are known to many creative artists, and will be known to more, and will influence them. In other words, the situation no longer exists which has characterized the appearance of most arts heretofore, namely of growing up insulated, in regional solitude and self-sufficiency. From now on, the history of human visual art will be of a new order.

Another idea Malraux develops is that while painting and sculpture do represent objects, the artist, contrary to legend and public opinion, develops his work out of his ability to see–not nature, but his predecessors, and to transcend them. Style is thus a social phenomenon, an interrelation of men through their works.” (from a review by A.L. Kroeber, American Anthropologist, 1957)

Originally published in 3 volumes as Psychologie de l’art, 1947-49, the work had been thoroughly rewritten and published as Les Voix du silence, Gallimard, 1951.

Translated by Stuart Gilbert
First published in English by Doubleday, 1953
Publisher Paladin, UK, 1974
679 pages

Reviews: Maurice Blanchot (1950/1997), William Barrett (Saturday Review, 1953).

PDF (81 MB, no OCR)


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