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Enigmas of Identity$
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Peter Brooks

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691151588

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691151588.001.0001

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The Madness of Art

The Madness of Art

Chapter:
(p.170) 7 The Madness of Art
Source:
Enigmas of Identity
Author(s):

Peter Brooks

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691151588.003.0008

This chapter suggests that the self facing its extinction may make particularly concerted, wild, mad reactions to the impending nothingness of its identity, in late work of a new, unbound creativity. There have, over the ages, been artists in all sorts of media who have had the capacity for self-reinvention late in their careers—often involving a whole new manner, a “late style” that is often their principal claim to greatness in the eyes of posterity. The chapter then assesses the relation of self-reinvention to self-dissolution. In the limiting circumstances of self-dissolution come such phenomena as Beethoven's late quartets—which, in his by then total deafness, he could not hear—or Matisse's late cutouts—these being a return to the art and techne of childhood at a point where he could no longer wield the paintbrush, in which one can find the brilliant invention of a new “period” in his work in response to necessity.

Keywords:   self-reinvention, self-dissolution, necessity, late style, Beethoven, Matisse

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