Kazimir Malevich, Barnett Newman, Ad Reinhardt, Frank Stella

In the Book of Strange and Unproductive Thinking I have meditated excessively about genuine creativity and how it may become a possibility. More generally, the ruminations were about the realisation and purification of mind, spirituality, intellect, humanity. A prominent topos was the necessity to channel through your hereditary intellectual and spiritual equipment. As you´re equipped with ancestral concepts, intellectual theories and the like that enable orientation in the world, you got to get to know them all, finally transgress/semi-destroy them, in order to come to pure perception from which you then can establish pure concepts again. That is the cycle of life in the transhuman, intellectual realm (or: the Continuum, as I called it a while ago), that´s how the story goes. It is a bodily process. It is a bodily urge that drives the creative/spiritual individual; it can be quite painful, and it longs for a „transcendent“ breakthrough, hell yeah. For instance, you may feel a strong impuls shooting up from the lower, visceral body regions up into your head, crashing immensely at the cranial vault, which it tries to break open and pulverise your enigmatic essence into the sky, the universe, to become one with it. There are many different ways to describe it and personal experiences that shine in respective individual colors; the products of transformation may be Zen-Buddhism, the General Theory of Relativity, or something else. Alongside the process, there likely is an encounter with, well, the Nullfläche. In the clean sweep to achieve a state of purity you have absolute reduction, it is usually a monochrome surface or a flat space (that can be stretched into the infinite depth), where every point/segment is indistinguishable from another. And in the next moment there will be something going on, some kind of activity, that is undefined, enigmatic, likely unrelated and that vanishes into the Nullfläche again in the next moment, without obvious consequence, like maybe a distant thunderstorm. That is, finally, the apparent primal state of the mind, and the mind that has come to itself. It is also apparent that this is an image of the universe, and of totality – maybe even of the heavens, and of the „spheres“. It is the Alpha and Omega. As they say. In the art of the 20th century you have some expressions of it.

Most notably in Malevich´s Black Square. Kazimir Malevich was a very versatile artist who painted in (or founded) various styles. Already as a child he became highly immersed into and alert to the act of painting/drawing and a metaphysicist who wanted to explore the possibilities that lie within painting itself. As a young man, and in the artistically extremely versatile and volatile time of the early 20th century he started as an Impressionist, then became a Neo-Primitivist, then a major developer of Cubo-Futurism (which tried to combine Cubism and Futurism), then (as Cubo-Futurism was tried to establish an independent Russian tradition which, however, was only semi-independent) the champion of Suprematism. The goal of Suprematism was to connect man to an ideal world, respectively to establish the spheres (and not only via the display of geometric forms as the main motive and the absence of anything human, it somehow carried the ambiguity that the ideal world or the spheres are not human but inhuman, though, however, somehow tangible via the (purified) mind). Whereas Futurism was dynamic and „progressive“, Suprematism tried to display tranquility, self-containtedness and permanence. Kazimir´s Black Square was, so to say, the fulfillment and the cumulation of Suprematism as well as it carried the possibility of its transgression, as a wormhole, so to say. The original Black Square is not perfect (as its later reproductions) but a bit eccentric, signifying an inherent dynamic that opens the possibility for evolution. It is also cool that it is fragile and became full of fissures after a while, i.e. that its indicated stasis and permanence also carries life, spontaneity, respectively erosion and decay (that there are myths about the creation of the Black Square, that we do not know, for instance, whether Kazimir purposely executed it poorly or so spontaneously that he had to paint over another painting as he lacked any other canvas in that moment, and the like, add to the complexity and the mysticism inherent of the whole complex). There is the idea that once you meet the Nullfäche, practised the the clean sweep, went through the chunnel and the wormhole, the state of pure perception, you will be able to create new concepts and establish new figuration – and after Suprematism (and under Stalinism) Malevich painted a series of Russian/Soviet peasants (as well as portraits) again, in a distinct style however, and engimatic/ambiguous in its message. Some say that the peasants are mostly uncanny and unhappy, and Malevich secretly displays the horror of Stalinist collectivisation. Yet actually the paintings are colourful, the world is in order, the sun is shining (in an enigmatic way however, as if the world had been consumed by a terrifying and all-consuming eternal day that annihilates anything crepuscular and nocturnal). The asymmetric colours may indicate individuality or pseudo-individuality (a problem that is relatively independent from Stalinism). Often the peasant´s faces are empty. The anticommunists take it as an indication of annihilation of individuality and the human essence under communism. Yet if you´re spiritually more evolved and have more creative intelligence you know that the empty face is the best of faces (as it indicates the Nullfläche again and transpersonalised potential, including, nevertheless, destructive potential; which is also what Kazimir explicitely, though opaquely, said). His final works were a series of portraits he labelled as „Supranaturalist“. They commonly depict women and should indicate a better human race of the future. They are depicted in ancient clothing and there is a self-portrait of Malevich as a Renaissance painter. That´s, again (as mentioned in the introduction), how the story goes, in the Continuum.

As David Sylvester noted, Barnett Newman was a kind of a slow learner among the Abstract Expressionists. When Abstract Expressionism developed (in the 1940s) he was more respected as an intellectual among the Wild Bunch. When he finally achieved his creative breakthrough it took quite while until it became accepted. Increasingly, he became noticed as the greatest American painter of his time. Onement (1948) is quite literally an emanation of transcendent breakthrough: it is actually how breakthrough is enlivened and vibrates – and Newman tells us that, although at first he did not actually know what Onement is about, he felt that it is very alive (Malevich reportedly was so upset by the Black Square that he could not sleep or eat for a week after he painted it). A true work of art, as Deleuze/Guattari for instance say, can stand on his own and stabilises within itself. And such is the case with Onement, respectively the zip, it its uprightness. Onement is a monochromous colour field in which there is an energetic stripe: the zip. The zip, respectively the entire vision, is less – well – conceptual/elaborated than the Black Square, as it is, apparently, not even a primal form that emerges from the primal ground – it is a kind of lightning, a flash, or that In the beginning was the Word. It is, directly, one of the lightning flashes that happen at the Nullfläche, and that actually make it, and are a part of it. It is both epistemology and ontology. It is the primary process that (apparently) establishes order over (apparent) chaos. There´s a lot of stuff in that, and it is also an exercise is grasping the sublime. Until his death (in 1970), Newman painted in this style: Large, beautiful colour fields, that are often invaded by the zip. Very tasty. They have something sacral to them, and they are intented to give the viewer a sense of place. „I hope that my painting has the impact of giving someone, as it did to me, the feeling of his own totality, of his own seperatedness, of his own individuality“, says Barnett. A lot of things happen in those colour fields. Maybe I could watch them endlessly, although, then, I rather prefer to watch really a while the children playing outside at the market (that is to say, in another time dimension, or at the meta-level of time I watch the Newman painting endlessly as the imitate my mind). Newman gave an impetus for colour field painting and minimalism. What we have in his work is an autonomous creation. It is a great order. It is a universalisation of a personal epiphany, respectively it is a basic, universal expression of epiphanic creativity. Likewise, it is also an expression of man: as being individual and excluded from a whole, but also somehow belonging to a greater whole.

Ad Reinhardt, labelled the „Black Monk“, was a kind of enfant terrible among the Abstract Expressionists, and among artists (or the art scene) in general. He became successful only late in his life and his final solution were the black paintings, i.e. he painted canvases that simply were black. He said that, in painting, there should be no texture, no brushwork, no colors, no design. With his black paintings he intented to paint the last, final paintings that can ever be painted. If you look closely at them, they however shimmer, minimally, in an individual fashion as they show different colour grades of black, respectively black minimally amalgamated with other colours. Therein, they are said to create an atmosphere and aura. Reinhardt said no sketching or drawing, no light, no scale, no space, no time. He loathed subjectivity and had an attachment to the Zen. He was very intelligent, philosophised about the black colour and other stuff of importance and was programmatic as he set up rules and programs in which he said no acrobatics, no self-pity, no guilt, no pain, no supernaturality or subhumanity. An heyoka with a program and manners at the edge of absurdity he expressed disdain for the art market and (as they have been the more dominant alienating channels at his time) the art institutions and academies and he said no drugstore-museums, no cultural entrepreneurship, no jurys, no prizes, no competitions, no masterpieces, no cheap art commodities. As he also raided against his Abstract Expressionist colleagues as they, quite willfully, became a part of the machine and art-entrepreneurs once they gained success they did not find that so funny anymore. Newman ended his friendship with Reinhardt (and tried to sue him for 100.000 Dollars) when Reinhardt did something (that was, from Newman´s perspective) actually not very nice (and threatened Newman´s reputation); Reinhardt regretted it that the Abstract Expresionists „did not talk to each other anymore“ (once they had become famous) but only „talked to the audience anymore“. The „funniest“ things Ad Reinhardt had to tell about reclusive purist Clyfford Still, a champion of Abstract Expressionism who shunned the light so much as that he often refused to have his art exhibited and was very rigid about what the Clyfford Still Museum that was set up after his death in Denver, Colorado was allowed to do (for instance not to have a café or museum shop so as not to contaminate the purity of aura) as he explained how Still was skilled at always finding a millionaire that would pay for him and finance his life, and if Still wasn´t to be seen with a specific millionaire than it was an indication that Still had found another millionaire lol (Clyfford Still reportedly tried to kick Ad Reinhardt out of some vital inner circles and institutions important for artists after that). Ad Reinhardt said no primitivism, no expressionism, no supression of time and of subjectivity, no low-level consciousness, no portrayal of life, no abstraction of anything, no anti-intellectualism, no confusion of art with something that is not art. In his writings there also is a cool and dedicated essay about art in ancient China (something I want to touch in the future).

Frank Stella was influenced by Ad Reinhardt when he entered the scene at age 22 with his Black Painings. In the 1960s he developed his idiosyncratic style which on the one hand drew from various sources and at the same time paved way for other innovations. Stella confused critics at the beginning because there is not much in its paintings. And indeed, you more or less have only the painting itself. Although heavily influenced by Barnett Newman, he was so concerning method, not content. There is no transcendence intended – there is, so to say, after the great hypercycle of going through the Nullfläche, which signifies both the primordial as well as the spheres, a return to base – and the return to the base of painting, in a peculiar way: there is no („radical“) transcendence, but „radical“ immanence in Stella´s art. Stella was aware of the mystical, contemplative tendencies of Abstract Expressionism, but combined them with the immanence of hard-edge painting. It is the movement of the great energy, of the great impetus, shooting, undifferentiated, into the sky, into space, to return to base, splash at the canvas and then to organise itself, peacefully, self-contained, self-sufficient, as you have it the works of Stella (to sooner or later start a new cycle, supposedly). Stella said that he was unhappy and that he found it unconvincing what the Abstract Expressionists did at the margin/edge of the canvas. A lot of energy, of convincing energy there is in their paintings, which however tends to get lost at the margins of the canvas. Hence Stella adapted the canvas to what he wanted to express and introduced the shaped canvas, a major innovation he came up with. Like in the case of Jasper Johns his paintings were not really paintings anymore, but objects. Like all the artists mentioned in here Frank Stella is highly intelligent and his writings and lectures are a worthwhile read. Interestingly, they reveal that Stella is very attached to Caraveggio – because to him, Caraveggio gave the most striking solution of how to display spatiality and figures in space. Stella was influential for Pop Art, Op Art and Minimalism and he also became a sculptor.

There are some other manifestations for this kind of subject. Mark Rothko or Yves Klein may come to mind (also, in a way, Mondrian, but there shall be a specific note about Mondrian). Malevich however was the most pronouced and universal of the passengers through the Nullfläche – and he even was the most aware that Zero/Null and totality are the same, respectively a kind of mirror image of each other. He saw himself as a depersonalised entity, born from a „desert“, respectively having his origin in space itself, which is free to create ex nihilo. „I have seen space“, he annouces. And then he was motivated by an urge that culminated in an urge for a transcendent breakthrough. – That Malevich chose a square as the primal form makes sense, as, in contrast to the apparently more perfect circle/sphere or any other form, the square indicates authority, assertiveness, uprightness, presence and dominance over the four cardinal directions. When I tried to write my first short story (for the Book of Strange and Unproductive Thinking, after I had written a huge novel like Yorick as a start) I again un/fortunately came up with something incummensurable/inalienable like The Square, an associative, delirious text that displays how creative emanations appear, including the possibility of architecture and how their architecture could look like, of of the dark fond of the Nullfläche, before they vanish into the Nullfläche again. – Malevich´s art-religion does not know an exact salvation, it is all an ongoing process. The goal is an atomisation, a nebulisation of man – I know this from myself – to become a true cosmic, depersonalised entity, that erects various mirrors in space so as to get a view over totality. In our time one could also think of a fleet of tiny nanobots sent out into deep space, for the purpose of exploration, or make contacts with other life forms.

Frantisek Kupka and Charles Sheeler

In 1912 Frantisek Kupka caused a sensation as he came up with the first truly abstract painting, Amorpha: Fugue in Two Colors. Yet he did not consider himself an abstract painter nor a cubist, as in fact he was an unhoused loner who fell into relative oblivion in later years. Whereas Kandisky´s Concerning the Spiritual in Art circulated a lot, Kupka´s book Creation in the Plastic Arts went by largely unnoticed. At that time, abstraction was mainly understood as an expression of modernism and a progressive, scientific spirit, Kupka however strongly related to ancient and archaic art and culture and nurtured from the atavistic. To him, the artist cannot create something truly new anyway, therefore it is appropriate for him to try to relate to the glorious cosmic forces. He also says: The artist does not make reference to nature but is rather busy trying to organise his inner material and experiences and visions which are, to some degree, chaotic and consist of perceptions that are unclear, yet, within the process turning it into art, achieve greater clarity – via instrumental composing. The artist is highly sensitive (with a sensitivity that is achieved trough life and not innate), so to say a nerve system that reaches into the cosmos; his self is not a compact unity as his awareness is diffused over the whole body. The artist tells about his privileged inner experiences and visions and, therein, creates new experiences for others (which is, to Kupka, the (rather humble) end of art). There will be no endpoint in art, as the possibilities for visions are endless, likewise, there are no absolute ideals or rules but a quasi-spontaneous combination of elements that makes the primal ground: art is performative. In saying so, Kupka did not make a lot of friends among those who were talking about art as directed towards perfection, wholeness, etc. Kupka was leaning towards the dionysian and the dynamic. – In the Albertina Wien, they have this cool painting Aufragende Formen (Ascent). It is about making cosmic forces and ascension visible. It refers to Hinduism and temple architecture. I like it because it gives you a sense of place. The erectness is appealing. You can communicate with it, but not directly. That´s so fascinating. On the internet I see in the 1990s they had an exhibition about Kupka in Germany, titled Die abstrakten Farben des Universums.

Whereas the unhoused European Kupka, who affirmed that the artist lives in a transcendent or pseudo-reality, was (as they say) otherworldy, respectively, due to his high intelligence, operated at a high level of abstraction respectively overview over the human and the metaphysical condition and was tangential to the man´s world, the Americans were at the same time about to find their own identity and self-assurance in the domain of culture and artistic style. The Great War had shattered humanistic and progressive/spiritual ideals, also those transported by the avant-garde. At the same time the significance of the old world gradually eclipsed and American hegemony gradually solidified. The 1920s were a peculiar decade that brought about rising living standards, liberalism and pluralism, a democratic mass/consumer society and an intrusion of the „mundane“ into high art (the jazz age); alongside a mourning about spiritual emptiness, superficiality, commercialisation as well as that, obviously, under the surface man does not change or improve but may even be hollowed out by stereotypical mass culture. Intellectuals were uneasy about the absence of a grand narrative – in an age where traditions are under siege and society progresses yet no one knows to what end: The usual confusion of epoches of transformation and transition. In Europe, it lead to fascism. In America, the Roaring Twenties were ended by the Great Depression.

Artistically, Precisionism was the dominant style of the era. Pioneered by artists like Charles Demuth, Georgia O´Keeffe, Preston Dickinson or Charles Sheeler, Precisionism combined abstraction with the realisitic representation of everyday objects, particulary those associated with the functional or industrial or urban enviroment. The objects and landscapes are presented as harmonic, hygienic, flat and immediate, new, you have the absence of dirt, decay or human meddling, a rigid geometry, seemingly a „new harmony and order based on function“ that „offered an ideal of stability, eternity, permanency, order and power beneath the chaotic shifting reality of modern life“. You have both culture and inhumanity, a humanity that is probably soon to become obsolete or reduced by the anonymous power of industrialisation, as something both larger as well as inferior to human life. American Precisionists wanted to embrace both „native tradition and modern vision“ (Charles Demuth even said his depiction of modern America tries to relate to ancient cultures and their manifestations and therefore his art relates not to the future but „to the past“). Ambiguous, as it is. Ahhh… Die Welt ist tief/und tiefer als der Tag gedacht. What a supposedly flat pool of meaning, that is yet so deep and obscure. That´s metaphysics. (Quotations from Susan Currell´s book: American Culture in the 1920s)

Charles Sheeler was both a painter and a photographer, which made his paintings particularly „precisionist“ and proto-photorealistic. Sheeler was also particuarly influenced by Duchamp in finding secret meaning and appeal in everyday objects. What I like is that his forms and industrial landscapes are also ascendant and it is cool to be confronted with/exposed to their erectness, and their rigidity, and their asepsis. The sublime comes to mind, and is then relativised: as it is not unlimited and infinite, but seems to carry the potential for transcendance, even ultra-transcendance. It annihilates the subject and, at the same time, empowers it. It is infra-sublime, as it seems more humble and less competent than man, as well as it may be ultra-sublime, that which is destined to transgress man at all. It seems to speak to you, and it does not. It seems to be empty as well as meaningful as well as overcharged with secret meaning and stuff that surpasses man and human understanding, maybe leads into the transhuman or signifies the advent of the transhuman age. Have we conquered functionality, or will it conquer us? It is both heteronomous and homonomous. If it cannot replicate, it will survive as ruins. It is as old as time itself, archetypical. While hypermodern, it also seems ancient (and Sheeler compared it to religious expression in gothic cathedrals, whereas the new religion is scientific objectivity and industrial functionality that relieves man from hardship and makes life smooth). It, foremostly, signifies that there is stuff out there in the world which has semi-independent existence. It adds something to the world, to totality. An enigmatic ontology (respectively Ding-Ontologie), that philosophers have not exactly figured out so far. In reverse to what Kant says about the sublime (that it transcends the possibilities of our sensual perception but not of our ideas), it does not transcent our senses (as it is clear-cut and contoured, even somehow humble), it transcends our intellectual categories and indicates that our very modes of perception and intellect are going to be transformed (opening the apparent rigidity of Kant´s epistemology a bit and making it more malleable). I like the Upper Deck as, in silence, it speaks to me. In insignificance, it signifies. It is pure meaning and significance. It is a culture without me. It is the Great Other. When Bodhidharma failed to make himself intelligible to the Emperor, he sat in front of a wall for nine years, in silence, and finally invented Zen-Buddhism.

Joseph Beuys and Andy Warhol

From the 1960/70s onwards, feminist/humanist critique has been articulated against the „notion“ of the „role model“ of the „white male genius“ as the dominant bringer of culture. Leaving this discourse aside for the moment, we shall be inclined to state that the true artist, however, shall not be expected to be as primitively and bluntly gendered as you are (supposedly): It has been noted that creative individuals usually are eqipped with qualities attributed to the opposite gender: Creative females are more self-asserted, rational and aggressive than other girls; creative males are softer and more intuitive and nurturing than other boys. The greater the artist, the more universal the artist´s personality, which means that s/he will possess both „masculine“ and „feminine“ qualities. Virginia Woolf (with reference to Samuel Taylor Coleridge) says, the best mind is the androgynous mind.

Meditate about that.

When I recently saw Andres Veiel´s new documentary film „Beuys“, Joseph Beuys also struck me as a being for which „masculinity“ and „feminity“ does not actually, immediately apply. His idiosyncratic head resemblant to a skull, but one that you would not expect a skull(-like head) to look like; Beuys` general appearance is one highly idiosyncratic and statuary and symbolic, though not in a way you would expect an idiosyncratic and statuary and symbolic person to look like. Beuys` appearance is highly emblematic but in a way that comes completely unexpected. A hipster cannot look like that. In his „artificiality“ and his deliberateness Beuys is highly natural and authentic. Beuys was an originator of what would (later) be labelled as Performance Art, Process Art, Body Art, Happening, Social Sculpture, he gave a new outlook on sculpture in general and established a connection between art and politics and the social realm and the human realm, and, finally, about art and life and about what an artist actually is. He was/established a hyperset. Due to his pronounced subjectivity he also transgressed (the impersonality of) Fluxus art and in his endeavour to create a personal mythology he also gave dignity to „mundane“ material (like fat or felt) – as well as he gave dignity to people, in personal exchange, as a teacher, as well as by claiming that „everyone is an artist“ – which means that every creative thought is actually art, therein (and also in his declarative approach, to make something a piece of art by declaration) widening our outlook on art in general. Beuys was an artist in the formation of a democratic age and embodied the spirit of democracy, and his devotion to his students (because of which he finally got expelled as a university professor) was real and not a gesture, as he spent the whole day working in class. He is described as someone who was able to connect to anyone and finding out what the other person needs and how she could be elevated. Due to his high (schizotypal) sense of connectivity he tried to build bridges between East and West, connect man to nature, the ephemeral to the large context of history and the transhistoric, embodied the shaman and a bit of heyoka (though a very polite one). Due to his connectivity, which included also the (so-called) irrational he also had some downsides – but there are worse things around than Anthroposophy or not being able to become a politician (as he was denied to become a candidate for the Green party by the Green party´s other members). He rallied against narrowmindedness and conservatism but not in any obvious way, finally he distanced himself from mass movements, and the fate of people like Beuys is that they are, in the final consequence, isolated loners, whose impact on society is a (seemingly) indirect one, since they do not inhabit the same world as man. Despite his apparently odd figure, in the film a woman spoke to us how Beuys, in their encounters, struck her as completely normal (actually as „the only truly normal person I have ever met“) and as being both a dreamer and not a dreamer at all all alike (that´s a reference to the actual state of hypernormality of the genius). As a pilot in World War II Beuys was not as easily to be unrespected by the rightwingers and conservatives, and one can say that his personal history is one of transformation and elevation (at least apparently). When in his earlier days he had no success, and alongside with the usual pains of a true originator at the beginning, he fell into deep depression, became suicidal and a befriended family had to take care of him (and an elderly woman saved him and reestablished his self-assurance). When he came to America, he elegantly/spectacularly avoided contact with anyone and only (intensely) conversated with a coyote (I like America and America likes Me). His voice was masculine, but elevated and soft, swinging in its own intensity.

When thinking about the androgynous artist, also Beuys´ contemporary and friend Andy Warhol comes to mind; a shy, highly schizotypal homosexual who was otherwordly (and frail) already as a child (whithout, however, displaying signs of a miracle child). – When asked about his opinion about the „discontent“ of our age, in 1955 (in a private conversation with Patrick Bowles), Beckett dismissively said that the „discontent of our age“ is „the discontent of every age“: „99 percent of people lack true access to their own minds“. As a genius, Warhol did not lack access to his own mind, and so, at about the same time, passed off mindless consumerism as well as mindless intellectualism (from left, right or anywere) refuting or being dismissive of consumer society (whose formation is one of the great developments in human history) and turned it into art. As a commercial illustrator Warhol had been no slouch, and his immense talent, actually genius for painting and illustrating (and use of colour) had been disovered at the art school (that being said against the apparent simplemindedness or, at least, coolness of his later art he became famous with), in addition, that professional experience gave him an understanding of how creative work has to be designed to reach a maximum audience. When, after unsuccessful attempts to establish his own territory as a „serious“ artist, he saw an early exhibition of Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg (who would refuse to let him into their circle as well) he decided to use their new found language with greater purity and immediacy – which then, finally, resulted in Pop Art. They said, Warhol had a genius for immediacy – and that´s what he did: present things and art as a „fait accompli“, which either means everything or nothing – respectively, in this ambivalence, actually means everything and nothing. He gave the purest expression of a democratic mass/consumer society, and its ambiguities. While Beuys said everyone´s an artist, Warhol said everything is beautiful, and when asked whether he likes or dislikes the apparently trivial things he portrays he responded that „Pop Art loves things“ – also Warhol elevated stuff. Dali said, genius spiritualises everything, and Warhol did this to things, according to the age he inhabitated, as he „glamourised“ things (reminding us also that „spirituality“ is not a simple and easily definable, but a complex, ambiguous thing, with a sharp as well as an infinitely nuanced and spectral/auratic contour, and that is differentiated in itself). With his technique of repetition he removed emotive potential as well as he investigated about (Benjamin´s) aura (via de- and reconstruction); as he added specific colour to it, he made stuff unique and idiosyncratic again. With his genius for immediacy he apparently removed transcendence, while actually he established an endless loop and an apparently mutual gaze between the glorious human and the humble and inarticulate soup can, which is both so ephemeral and (not least as a manifestation of culture and of the most vegetative needs of man, and also as an object for intellectual reflection) destined to outlive man. In a world full of celebrities and in his relentless drive to be a celebrity, Warhol apparently nullified his persona, which amplified his charme and his significance; by apparently reduing his complexity he added a meta-level to his complexity, by taking himself out, he became universal. In fact, while seeming inexpressive Warhol was highly receptive and aware of his surroundings – to the extent that he „merely“ seemed to draw from his surroundings and exploit people and the freaks at the Factory: but in this seeming reproductiveness and derivativeness there was his originality: as originality comes from immediate as well as „paradoxical“ combination of elements and elevating it to a higher level of signicance. When he said that behind his appearance and his art there is actually „nothing“, it may refer to schizotypal self-experience (as having no clear internal locus), to mastery of Zen, to the artist becoming a „sheer“ medium – or to a correct and precise look at the considerable elusiveness of the self. He was a transperson. His films, consisting for example of filming the Empire State Building for hours, result from Warhol actually being able to look at and enjoying stuff ordinary people find drab for hours and becoming immersed into it. And you had all the stuff in it that makes art, respectively the oeuvre of an artist: the paradoxical beauty of soup cans and Brillo boxes, you have (the ambiguity/frailty) of beauty (and of the Anima: Marilyn), of flowers, you have death, accident, execution, the human portrait, Chairman Mao, etc.

In doing so, Beuys and Warhol were defining geniuses of their age and a bit of a negative mirror image of each other. In their apparent superficiality (that is to say: immediacy), they were deep (and gave a new perspective on depth). They were, however, not ultra-deep thinkers of art (hence their relatively immediate success). The ultra-deep art genius will, metaphorically, rest on the ground of the ocean or so these days, and maybe even for the rest of days. He will not really know what masculinity and feminity is, neither will he know about androgyny; he is constantly calculating the universe anew and, by shifting perspectives, creating the hyperset of high order.