Avant-Garde Art 

December 12, 1999

    I have worked all my artistic life on the development of Curvism. I first used the word Curvism in 1978 to describe my art and philosophy of art.

    I continue to think about the purpose of art and role of the artist. More specifically, I’m thinking about avant-garde art and the role of the avant-garde artist. Even more specifically, I’m thinking about western art and the history of painting. The tradition of avant-garde art started in Europe in the mid 1700’s. It is the tradition of the new art emerging and rebelling against the old art which has been approved, accepted, and supported by the establishment. The art of the avant-garde artist is critical of the establishment and the power and values which dictate and control society at large.

    The avant-garde artist brings critical truth to society. Yet, if it is to have any real value for society, avant-garde art should also offer an alternative vision for the future. Avant-garde art should not only be a mirror of society but it should paint a picture of what’s missing, showing a new way into the future. This new art, this new way of seeing the world and its possibilities is the true gift of the avant-garde artist. Inevitably this gift always seems to cost the artist some pain and suffering. It is not easy to be the bearer of bad news, the messenger. It is not easy seeing the truth, first for the artist, and then for society. It’s also difficult for the avant-garde artist to get the attention of the establishment and society.

    True artists, the avant-garde artists, seek the truth, not necessarily the truth of knowledge, which is the scientific approach, but rather the truth of wisdom. This truth is revealed in the metaphorical, the symbolic, the story. The role of the avant-garde artist has been to seek and reveal the spiritual. The spiritual is seldom found in the marketplace of consumerism, power, and money.

    Now, at the turn of the century, at the turn of the millennium, the world is one big global free market capitalistic system, where the money and power is concentrated in the control of a small number of faceless international corporations. These corporations offer goods and services to millions of consumers, creating jobs and economic wealth for many. The rich and powerful few control most of the money, the masses, and the world’s natural resources. It is the role of the avant-garde artists (painters, poets, writers, philosophers, humanitarians) to reveal the injustice of a heartless economic power system. It is the role of the avant-garde artist to reveal how ultimately worthless money and power really are. Compared to spiritual wisdom and wealth, materialism is meaningless. The role of the avant-garde artist is to give voice to a higher consciousness and to protect society’s soul.

    The avant-garde artist needs to be careful not to sell his own soul to fortune and fame. I always have to question myself about my intentions as an artist and my role as an artist. I am an avant-garde artist and Curvism is the avant-garde art of our time. As an artist, I seek to reveal the spiritual and give voice to the injustice of our cold-hearted capitalistic system. There is not much that I really need materialistically. I just hope to make an honest living with my art.

    I see the world beginning to change. It is beginning to move into the symbols of the circle and the ellipse. This change is happening quickly now. There has been some early exploration of the circular and elliptical; early cubist works by Picasso and Braque were done on elliptical canvases. Mondrian painted a few elliptical paintings in his early years. There have been a few other exceptions here and there along the way, but for the most part picture making has used the rectangular-square format. It has only been within the last five years that elliptical pictures have really begun emerging in popular society. This move toward the elliptical and circular is accelerating as we move into the new millennium. Curvism predicted and advocated for this to happen since 1978. Curvism believes this is where we need to go and that the circle and the ellipse are the next windows we need to look through.

    The circle and ellipse are spiritual symbols. I am concerned that they are now being appropriated by popular culture and used and abused by corporations. In the last several years there has been a rush by corporations to come up with elliptical, circular, and curved logos. They are now selling themselves as being spiritual commodities, with their logos on all their products. They use the spiritual symbols for economic exploitation, which seems to be the way of the world, of commerce, and consumerism. This was the fate of avant-garde art in the past. The new art challenges the old art and eventually the new art is accepted by society, taken in and consumed, used, abused, manipulated, and distorted, and then becomes the old. Society slowly advances spiritually in spite of the process by which it consumes the new. In the last forty years the tradition of the avant-garde artist has lost its voice. Since then art has mostly been consumer oriented, primarily a commercial consumerist product. Much of the art of postmodern art has been about the end of avant-garde art.

    The voice of Curvism is only now beginning to emerge and to be heard and its vision seen. It addresses societal concerns of our time, clearly criticizing the art of the past 100 years and the continued injustice and emptiness of capitalistic greed. There is a new changing worldview. The world is ready for these changes.

    Curvism offers criticism of the old, warning for the present, and hope for the future. Curvism is critical of the square world of the past: it is time for its power to end. Curvism acknowledges the developments and gifts of the square world and warns against the square world manipulating the spiritual world symbols for materialistic greed. Our hope for the future lies in the square world becoming subservient to the spirituality of the circular, elliptical, curved world, where humans seek spiritual wisdom with a consciousness of social justice and environmental wholeness.