The New Humanism in art must be understood as a university of thought in evolutionary way. Resting on unified universal knowledge and on the ethic and aesthetic qualities of being characterized by Martin Heidegger’s models of Dasein, the New Humanism represents an added value that contributes to the quality of art ideas for we know as a physiological reality that the eye sees only what the mind tells it to. The word new stands as a temporal existential requirement and a synthesis of the universal knowledge the artist must possess in order to exist and operate in the world. The artist’s existence in accordance with Heidegger’s Dasein stands as a active presence in the world with the consciousness of the past, present and future as a capacity and potentiality of being in the world. Thus, more knowledge and a more expanded consciousness are necessary for the artist of the future to change the world in order to fulfill Heidegger’s vision. In first place the New Humanism clearly establishes a direct continuity with the humanistic tradition of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment together; in second place, with the help of thought, the artist will be able to produce a synthesis of human values and envision a brand new world projected toward the future.
From a physiological standpoint, the artist, in order to make a good art, must incorporate in the work of art new ideas, which come from thinking and reflecting on the reality of the world, not indulging in dream-like behavior. Most importantly, he or she must understand the way the human brain arrives at the perception of things and necessarily of the world. Chapter 1 of “Of Art and Arteology” elucidates the phenomenological movement of sensory perception enriched by constant input of cognitive knowledge. The phenomenological of art, as a new method developed by the author, advances the chain of production that brings about greater perception of reality and new visions of potential transformation of the world. Perception without the cognitive input will always remain incomplete and impaired by the lack of substantial knowledge.
A new input of cognitive knowledge is what the New Humanism is all about. The input must be “heuristic,” pedagogical and purposive to have any value at all and stimulate intellectual functions as well as directly producing qualitative effects upon the human mind and upon reality itself. In addition, such traits contribute to constitute not a duality of being but a unity of the consciousness of life and art. This fact becomes evident when we visit a contemporary museum and we remain indifferent before a work of art, which does not move us because it has no embodiment of thought. The question that comes to mind then is simple: what are the required qualities that make a work of art worth looking at? Art without content is produced under an empty mind. Most probably the artist had a blank mind and a blank canvas to start with. We all know that the world needs reformation of the concept of art and that is why the author is proposing a reawakening of thought bringing human values to the forefront for better art works and a better world.
There are more than five thousands quotes being published by famous people just on the questions, “What is art?” but there is only one answer that encompasses them all: “art, being a human concept and not a metaphysical one, must incorporate our best thoughts in time and space.” Just to name a few: Leo Tolstoy said that art is “education;” Harold Rosenberg said the same thing without specificity; Dewey said that “art is experience” of the highest kind without referential correlations; Merleau-Ponty said is everything without differentiating dreams from the perception of reality; Picasso said that it is the industry of the lie because most likely he was an idealist before becoming a materialist, which is contrary to much of the answers produced by great men; etc. This book brings the Humanistic qualities to a higher level and purpose to revolutionizes the concept of art by logical necessity. “It turns it into a process of discovering the best values of life and the best in us.” (author’s quotation). However, down from the meta-critical to the critical level of analysis, few authors have dared assign similar role to art that reflects the spirit of anthropological evolution simply because artists will no longer be seen as sociopaths and iconoclastic.
Most of the 5,000 quotes being reviewed by the author do not support his argument, but at the same time, they show the enormous disparaging views, which denote a defective causal developmental condition present in our dysfunctional societies. The author is about to discuss here in a different way of life for artists, who still live in a world of dreams that will never materialize. They are all wishful thinkers, which leaves the world at the mercy of uncontrollable and irrational forces. Most artists still believe in art as “inspiration” from above. However, none of these artists think or write in addition to painting and sculpting their confused abstraction of reality. Writing invites to reflection and self-awareness. It is another type of exercise which helps direct our imagination. There is no productive imagination without thought. Satisfaction of being artist derives also from the fact that one acquire confidence in what one does, but how can this happen without thought and reflection? To fully understand the New Humanism one must have an open vision of human evolution as well as philosophical and scientific awareness built on the idea of self-education to produce concrete significance in a work of art.
Heidegger in “What is thought?” Speaks of ontology of mind in order to signify the temporal advancements of human thought . This author says the same thing to signify the substance that builds better art and better individuals. So, in reality one does not know what kind of education these controversial artists are all about. To an artist the New Humanism is pre-conceptual and educational because it conditions his or her mind to form a constructive intention to be actualized in the work of art and to grow consciously, ontologically, epistemologically and existentially, opening a better anthropological perspective for him-herself and humanity as a whole.
There is a level of consciousness in every artist, which can be measured by the degree of humanity in his or her work. Like during the middle ages, the work of art began with an initial idea, which must first be thought out, sketched and executed. Then it had to be related to the notion of humanity and evaluated by the artist who is the best critic of his or her work. In fact, the good artist is involved in constant self-critical work during the execution of a work of art. Self-criticism must be objective by all means in order to be constructive. In order to avoid the dire consequences arising from the public later, it must be logical so to invite logical critical response. The work may be controversial, but cannot lack substance, which demands reverence and respect.
At the time of the Renaissance artists were seekers of knowledge in every field of science, philosophy, agriculture, architecture. They were even war engineering and inventors and designer of new weapons and fortifications, like Leonardo Da Vinci. Representation was secondary even though execution of certain works required special rendering and special skills. Sensibility, honor and status of the artist were well recognized and granted to the good minds, Artists were respected in society and welcome wherever they went at the time. Nowadays, the situation is quite different. The artist was generally regarded as real gentleman, but hardly a genius because much glory belonged only to the saints. Yet, the Renaissance was not entirely about perfection of the making and rendering of imagery and techniques, but about what the artist was able to communicate. At the time, one could not get away with empty images and abstractions, which means that he or she must have had a well articulate and mature mind. An artist’s mind had to be supreme nevertheless, capable of reaching the spirit of humanity in great depths, or at least be able to express the true human spirit. Michelangelo was an architect, a poet and a scientist in human physiology. That is why he was also a diligent and meticulous reporter of historic events, which made his art work commemorative and vibrant, admired universally century after century. Painting at the time had special challenges and modes of communication beyond photography and other media. The contemporary artist today may be open to other special roles requiring greater knowledge and understanding of the different and more complex realities in the world in which we live. However, the commitment to society should be the same, which allows to the artist to participate in human evolution at a higher level, to send universal messages of philosophical, ethical and scientific righteousness of reality to a desperately needing audience and improve the course of humanity.
The author is speaking about the role of communicating in the future and the formulation of a type of language of conceptual reality arising from true perceptual live experiences, about new conceptual visions of the kind of ideality that keeps the mind moving ahead. This in comparison, may truly be the new important function of art of tomorrow – be at the forefront of humanistic development with purpose and vision.
All societies need some criticism because they are established by humans especially when they lack ethical and aesthetic wisdom. In art history and art criticism what abound is much subjectivism and poor wisdom. In other words, art can still send a message of truth straight to the heart of the observer and demonstrate that one can live in a better world if he or she captures the meaning and values of potential reality and engages the public in serious and challenging ways to change history, improve the environment, customs and beliefs. In sum to make works of art of universal significance the artist must embody universal thought; unite rather than separate cultures, which require knowledge and commitment. The artist must therefore be knowledgeable and extroverted to facilitate communication. Art would then become an instrument of social change and the result of special reflection on the problems of the world, but must be supported by research, perceptual advancement and maturity of thought, which is a great deal more challenging for the future artist than playing with images.
Raffaele Martini Pandozy,
(sculptor and Ph.D. in art education)
Revised July, 2017