Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Beauty and Universalism in Art

An accomplished artist, Marc Latamie has appeared as a guest lecturer at Columbia University, Harvard University, the University of Massachusetts Boston, and New York University. In his art, Marc Latamie strives for universalism.

Universalism revolves around the idea that beauty is deeply ingrained in human nature. Prior to his death in 2010, philosophy professor Denis Dutton authored a book called Aesthetic Universal, which examines the definition of universalism in the context of cognitive science and human evolution. The book explores the work of scholars such as Leo Tolstoy, Clive Bell, and Friedrich Schiller, all of whom addressed the universal meaning of art and its significance. Their studies had one specific element in common: the presupposition of a set of universal aesthetic preferences.

A study conducted by NYU tested whether or not beauty is truly “in the eye of the beholder.” Students were shown 109 paintings representing a number of cultures and historical periods. An MRI was used to measure blood flow within the brain of the subjects as they observed the paintings. Each subject was asked to rate the works on a scale of 1 to 4, depending on how greatly they were affected by each piece. The study showed that while the brain of each individual was engaged in the same way, the parts of the brain related to aesthetics differed from person to person. This leads to the conclusion that while aesthetic experiences are unique to individuals, commonalities still exist. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Marc Latamie - Exploring French and Martinique Identity with “Muses”

Originally from Martinique in the Caribbean, artist Marc Latamie has lived in Paris and New York since the early 1970s, and pursued a career that will be later on influenced by conceptual artists such as Marcel Duchamp. In 2012, Marc Latamie created an installation as part of the Americas Society’s “For Rent” series that was set up in the historic McKim, Mead and White building in Manhattan. The exhibition was undertaken in tandem with curators Theodora Doulamis and Christina de Leon.

As described in an ArtNexus article, the installation provides an elegant and unexpected narrative on the connection and separation between Martinique and France. The exhibition juxtaposed three “muses” in exploring these strands of identity, including Adrienne “Ady” Fidelin, a native of Guadeloupe who became Man Ray’s model and muse, and was a strong presence in the Parisian art scene for decades. Another muse is Lumina Sophie aka "Surprise", a woman who played a vital role in Martinique’s insurgency of the late 19th century and will be considered a national hero. Le Salon (de) Surprise displays a selection of Paul Gauguin Andre Masson and Henri Matisse prints, rendition of Martinique since all of these artists visited Martinique. In addition were selected an important Man Ray painting and several photographs of Ady by Man Ray, borrowed from private collections. Ady was a dynamic woman who is said to have inspired Man Ray to learn Creole in the 1930s. A main segment in the exhibit involves a recreation of a distillery of absinthe (the third muse) and explores a liquor that was introduced to Martinique at the time of French authoritative controlled of Martinique.