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or miracle amateurs

Author: Marzia Mascelli

Multimedia: By courtesy of Le nubi edizioni



Carl Einstein, with his only and explosive novel, worked out a reflection on possibility to reach new aesthetic, existential and cognitive models. The novel is about a grotesque quest, the journey of Giorgio Bebuquin, leaving from a café, passing through a circus and finishing on a bed. On the road, a lot of striking, volatile, absurd characters join Bebuquin quest. The miracle amateurs scatter on different and opposite directions, to find or lose the way to a real sense of life. Fancy and illogical places appear through twisted visions, a huge and powerful joke of mirrors and confusion. All events are created, added up together and scattered through a revolutionary and surprising prose: Einstein aimed at a new language moulded, or set free, in order to re-create by words what Cubism was making by sights: realize immediacy of total experience, immediacy of a Form meant to be concrete. Form is sensations as a whole, the real substance, not filtered by conventional signs. Form is the absolute, reachable by leaving the resistance towards absurdity and illogical, towards miracle. Einstein tried to transpose this immediacy (Das Unmittelbare) through a new way to use words and their positions in text. Bebuquin was also a strong criticism to inefficiency and injustice of social and political hypocrisy. His political-philosophical had always, as the artistic ones, their center in idea of immediacy, the need to newly discover the human absolute, beyond any objects that mask reality, beyond any analytical, psychological, ethical and social filters. Joke of mirrors separating man from man, and man from existential reality, from unmediate, total and self-contained experience of the world as a Concrete Form.

Carl Einstein

Remarkable reviewer and historian of Art, philosopher, refined intellectual, writer, combatant of the Spanish War, he was born in Neuwied, Germany, in 1885, coming of a jew family. Brought up in a greatly religious set, he went to Karlsruhe, a rich town bordering upon France, to follow his father, a rabbi. After his father’s suicide, the young boy was run over by a strong anti-religious and anti-authoritarian crisis, and he took a long distance from his community. His cultural education proceeded with a strong élan towards french literature, mathematics and physics. In 1904 Carl Einstein reached Berlin, where he attended philosophy and teology courses, and particularly history of Art, his favourite subject.

Paris and Cubism

In 1910 began his several trips to Paris, where he could meet protagonists and works of rising literary and artistic movements, and create an osmosis in himself among Symbolism, Cubism, Primitivism ferment, and Expressionism one from severe Berlin. Fundamental in all future theories, was his meeting Braque’s Cubism. The Cubism acquaintance moved ideas that went beyond artistic purpose: the oppurtunity to transpose the cubic on a plane surface, the unmediated expression of three-dimensionality, this had philosophical valency. These ideas took a deepening on 1915, when his basic essay, Negerplastik (Negro Sculpture) was published: Einstein, completing the text with several images, analyzed more than hundred negro african religious objects, but his share didn’t aim to be a an explanation, it would rather wanted to be paradigmatic. The author, with a congenial and very early sensitivity, surpassed exotic art taste, he surpassed theory of evolution too, and Western ethnological prejudice, in order to ponder upon european art difficulty to know Negro African sculpture, so suffering from twisting. He found a basic reason in a different capability to comprehend the cubic, the three-dimensionality, the concrete Form: two different ways to be related with. The crux of the matter was that in Negro sculpture the religious element is not only purpose for work of art, it is work of art, it is self-contained and transcendent. This sculpture art doesn’t trouble about work of art function, nor about the viewer role ad position – two fundamental canons of European art (except for the Cubism)-. Negro african sculpture assures, instead, a vision independent of viewer function and decorative purpose: it must only assure a total space, concentrated, fixed and independent of conceptualism. African art is a choice of immediacy.

Einstein and Dada

After the First War Einstein cooperated with members of political fringe of Berlin Dada, contributing to different satirical periodical. This will be the most closeness moment to Dada, only because of the common political and social will to knock down bourgeois culture and institutions. The common basic element, the role and purpose of art in this revolution, didn’t converge: Einstein believed the revolution as a proletarian one, not for journalists or men of letters. During these years, work and reflections were concentrated on art. He contributed to many influential artistic issues and edited a fundamental book on ‘900 art of Propyläen Verlag. He founded the review Document. Doctrines. Archèologie. Beaux Art. Ethnographie, and contributed to Transition. He wrote about Picasso, Mirò, De Chirico. Paris is fertile, but he criticized the man of letters, the artist and the work that wanted to be separated from people, from working class. He deplored hypocricy of decorative art, hampering humanity. In 1936 he left plans and work to enlist in International Brigades of Spanish War, at the side of anarchist Buenaventura Durruti. Back in Paris, Carl Einstein was registered in black lists and persecuted as spanish combatant, opposer, jew. In 1940 he was arrested and sent in a detention camp of Bordeaux. Left again, he tried to escape going to south of France. He left a letter for his last mate and threw himself through Gave du Pou water in 26th of June of 1940.

Bebuquin or the miracle amateurs, Carl Einstein le nubi edizioni, Rome, 2006. www.lenubi.it

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