Preface to System & dialectic of art – John Graham



Art is the force which led humanity through the ages of darkness — automatically, and through the ages of science — by inference.

In the history of humanity subjects and problems in numberless fields have been thoroughly investigated and solved. Such are: geometry and Roman Law which have finally and exhaustively formulated certain phenomena once and for all. The subject of art, however, has never been exhaustively investigated, formulated and systema tized, either by writers or artists. There have been pages written on art — inspired, beautiful and otherwise but all have been either fragmentary, amateurish or sentimental. The state of confusion that exists among the artists and writers in general, regarding such fundamental terms as art, work of art, form, style, method, etc., is no longer tolerable.

This is an attempt: to define questions of art exhaustively; to term them specifically; to formulate a dialectic method in art — a method of plastic, logical argumentation; to unite questions of art into a coordinated system.

It is called a System because it intends: a) to provide a related terminology in art; b) to divide the history of art according to social-economic periods; c) to provide for the classification of works of art and periods of art based on space-consciousness; d) to provide tangible bases for the evaluation of works of art and periods of art.

It is called Dialectics because it intends to provide the methods of logical argumentation in the domain of art.

New York — Paris, 1926-1936

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