Author: Rajesh Heynickx
Publisher: Leuven University Press
Category : Philosophy
Languages : en
Pages : 211
During the 1920's and 1930's many European modernist artists and intellectuals were seeking a primordial finality in Catholicism. In order to distil the eternal from the transitory, they became fascinated by a thought frame promoted by the French philosopher Jacques Maritain: neo-Thomism, a revival of the study of the principles and methodology of the thirteenth-century theologian "Chomas Aquinas. The French poet and surrealist filmmaker Jean Cocteau converted to Catholicism under the influence of Maritain. For the painters Gino Severini, a pioneer of futurism, and Otto van Rees, one of the first Dadaists, Maritain played the role of spiritual counsellor. And when the promoter of abstract art Michel Seuphor embraced Catholic faith in the 1930's, he too had extensive contact with Maritain. For all of them, the dictum of the Irish poet Brian Coffey, once a doctoral student under Maritain, applied: modern art needs a Thomistic conceptual framework. However, the contributions in The Maritain Factor show that Maritain's theories also provoked some irritation, and not just admiration. Walter Benjamin, for example, could only look at Maritain as a charlatan who was out to place modern art under the bell-jar of Catholicism. Studies on interwar modernist aesthetics have been insensitive to traditional reference frames for too long. The Maritain Factor argues that we should not restrict our gaze to a rigid opposition between modern developments and long-established, inherited ways of thinking. II is necessary to extend our horizon to the adaptability within modernism. Moreover, by studying the reception and perception of Maritain this volume demonstrates that Catholic thought was not just one aspect of the manifold varieties of discourses and practices that modernism consisted of. It often offered a basis to 'organise' or 'structure' this multiplicity and thus constituted interwar modernism in many ways.