手稿的历史与现实

The History and Reality of the Manuscript


手稿的历史与现实

盛葳

 

传统意义上的手稿研究主要集中在西方美术史领域。在西方美术的领域中,手稿的历史很长,但是,研究手稿的历史却很短。在文艺复兴和古典艺术时期,关于手稿的专门研究很少见。只有在美术史成为一门现代学科以后,手稿才开始真正被重视,从而进入美术史家的学术研究中。它们通常被视为一个带有目的性的过程中的起点或一环,或者是相较于作品而言更具有现实性和真实性的某种“证据”。

    传统美术史对手稿研究的下限是印象派,因为绝大多数印象派艺术家都直接在室外创作作品,而不是在画室内进行结构研究,在这个意义上,包括印象派在内的强调“原作”、“独创”的现代艺术,在根本上是反手稿的。许多在形式上看起来像手稿的图稿,实际上并不指向某件最终的“作品”。当然,这并不是说现代艺术家完全没有传统意义上的手稿,对于一部分作品而言,尤其是那些研究性的艺术创作而言,手稿依然是最终创作的过程和依据,而且同样具有美术史研究价值。

手稿的艺术史价值主要体现在两方面,从艺术内部来看,手稿是一种艺术创作的练习,从艺术外部来,手稿是一种特殊信息的载体。在不同的研究模式和方法中,手稿体现出来的价值也有所侧重。一种模式是传统研究,这种传统研究主要从艺术家的个人风格、语言是如何发展的,创作思路是如何形成和变化的着手。类似研究有一个共同的特点,就是必须在手稿和最终的作品之间建立起一种联系,并通过或相同或不同的关系来界定讨论最终的作品。

另一种模式是从艺术和美学的外部来切入,进行社会史、经济史、政治史、文化史等的研究。这在最近几十年的美术史研究中比较常见,譬如,前些年比较盛行的赞助人、赞助制度研究,都与手稿有着密切的关系。而且,这样的研究常常不是通过对手稿的研究来证明某个结论的正确,恰恰相反,艺术史家更多时候是将某个惯常的结论作为颠覆的对象。已经完成的作品被看作是一种经过修饰,或者是经过信息隐藏的结果,而手稿则透露出许多背后的秘密,是一种更原始、更真实的信息。

在我关于巴比松画派的研究中,也注意到这一点。譬如米勒(Jean-François Millet1814-1875)的《播种者》,那是他从1950年代开始反复画的一个题材,不仅有3件完成的油画作品,更有大量的手稿存世。在《播种者》《拾穗者》《晚钟》等油画作品中,人们更多看到的是一种充满宗教情怀的田园牧歌,但是,在一件《播种者》速写中,我们却可以意外的看到“电报塔”。在艺术史中,巴比松画派总是和纯朴的乡村生活联系在一起,那里似乎就像一个理想世界中的伊甸园。但是,电报塔等现代工具的出现打破了这个神话。手稿与作品之间出现了分裂。

巴比松画派的活跃期是1840年代至1880年代。19世纪的法国革命事件频发,那么,离巴黎不过仅仅几十公里的巴黎近郊巴比松真的可能是伊甸园?实际上,许多艺术家都是为了躲避巴黎的混乱而来到巴比松的,但这里并不是一个古典的田园牧歌之地,而是法国现代化的阵痛之地。此时正是法国工业革命的黄金时期,小农经济开始向农业资本主义转变,大型农场开始了工业化操作。在米勒居所不远的这个农场就是一个大型农场。这里早已不是田园牧歌的伊甸园了。艺术史家T.J.克拉克将枫丹白露森林里的拾薪者称之为森林里的无产阶级,那里涌动着不安的社会因素。那么,米勒为什么会将现实中的场景过滤,再将手稿中遗留的现代之物根除,最终描绘一个过时的乡村场景?

艺术史家罗伯特 L. 赫伯特(Robert L. Herbert1929-)认为米勒是一个19世纪的神话,但并不是现实。通过对那些被忽略或被边缘化的上千件手稿的研究和比照,他将米勒对前工业时代田园风光的描绘看作其个人对城市工业变迁的极端反应,从而找到一个过去的美好家园,来消除对快速扩张的城市、急剧发展的城市工业的恐惧,将自己从城市生活和冷酷无情的资本主义制度中释放出来。而被作为之前艺术史家的原始材料的传记,则忽略了这些内容。

米勒的第一位传记作者是桑西埃Alfred Sensier1815-1877)。桑西埃是法国国家美术馆和国家文化艺术机构的公务员,同时也是米勒和卢梭在巴比松的主要赞助人通过他的宣传和销售,米勒的绘画大都被出售给巴黎城市中的中产阶级。一方面,在当时中产阶级的眼中,现实中的郊区和近郊农村并不那么美好,那里满是冲突;但另一方面,面对革命中混乱的都市,他们又希望从乡村的古老历史中寻求安慰、抚平焦虑。因此,米勒对过时乡村风景的描绘正好对应了其消费者渴望看到的景象。因此,从现实到手稿,从手稿到作品的巨大变化便不难理解。

传统美术史研究中的手稿常常指向重要作品背后的故事”,对手稿的研究很多时候能够带来一些新的成果。但是,今天,美术史研究方法更新很快,而且,对于现代艺术和当代艺术而言,“手稿”的范围和定义也在不断拓展。因此,从当代的角度来看,手稿并不是铁板一块,而是具有不同的历史形态,这个时候的手稿和那个时候的手稿,在形态、价值和功能上,可能不完全一样,甚至完全不一样。在现当代艺术当中,有很多所谓的手稿,其实并没有对应着最后一件具体的完成作品,它们并不是传统意义上对某一个对象的研究,并且通过这个研究去实现某一个结果,有时自身体现为一件独立“作品”,有时是一种额外的图像或文字说明。

现代艺术的手稿除体现为独立作品以外,有时也体现为临摹练习。梵高有大量的手稿存世,但其中不少是临摹的作品,尤其是对米勒作品的临摹。20世纪,对现实形象的视觉采集因为照相机和录像机的出现而变得不再必要。在二战以后出现的新艺术流派中,许多东西也可以被称之为广泛意义上的手稿。譬如六七十年代流行的概念艺术,它们不但有着超现实主义的根源,同时也是对世界大战物质主义追求的一种左派回应,因此,非物质化的观念占据了主导位置,但观念总需要最低限度的物质表达,因此,手稿成为其中最为重要的一种载体,文献本身变成了艺术。

在当代艺术中,对现实进行视觉形象的直接再现变得更少,因此,传统意义上手稿变得更少,但对于装置、行为或观念艺术而言,常常会有艺术家在实施之前的构思和实施草图、说明,我们更多的将它们称之为方案。有时,这种方案本身就是一个作品。当我们把它们称之为手稿的时候,跟文艺复兴时期的那种手稿其实是有着本质性的差异。对于艺术史研究而言,它们是否有价值,价值如何体现,都仍然需要思考。不过,与传统的手稿不同,它们有时候可以作为一种生产性的材料来使用。

策展人比利安娜曾有一个项目“被枪毙的方案”,收集了80年初以来中国许多因各种原因未能实施或不能实施的作品方案,并探讨它们没有实施的原因,这不仅与策展人的策划思路有关,而且与艺术机构、艺术市场、大众审美等外部因素及其结构有着直接的关联,从更宏观的层面来看,这些现象和这些结果与中国社会的现实也有着紧密的关系。显然,这样的关于手稿的项目,不仅是研究性的,也是创造性的。对于艺术史家和艺术评论家而言,认识到手稿不同历史形态及其价值,然后从不同的角度、以不同的方法对对待它们,显然是必要的。

    

 The History and Reality of the Manuscript

Sheng Wei

Traditional manuscripts research mainly focuses on western art history. Although, in the field of Western art, manuscripts have been around for a long time, research of manuscripts has a very short history. During the Renaissance and classical art period, studies on manuscripts were rare. Only after the art history became a modern discipline, did the manuscript begin to be valued and become a subject of study for art historians. Manuscripts are often viewed as a starting point or a link in a purposive process, or as "proof" of reality and authenticity in comparison with the finished work.

In traditional art history, the lower limit of research on manuscripts is Impressionism, because most impressionistic artists create works directly outdoors, rather than carrying out structural studies in the studio. In this sense, Impressionism and other modern art styles which emphasize originality and ingenuity, are fundamentally “anti-manuscript”. Many works that look like manuscripts do not point to the final work. Of course, this does not mean that modern artists have no manuscripts in the traditional sense. For some works, especially those created for research, manuscripts are still the process and basis for the final creation, and they are valuable for art history research.

The art historical value of manuscripts can be approached from two perspectives. For one thing, the manuscript is an exercise for artistic creation. For another, the manuscript serves as a carrier of special information. In different research methodologies, manuscripts may present different value. In the traditional approach, emphasis is placed on how the artist’s individual style and language develop, and how his creative thinking is formed and change. One of the common features of this type of research is the need to establish a link between the manuscript and the final work and to define and discuss the final work through the similarities or differences between them.

Another methodology that approaches manuscripts from the outside of art and aesthetics carries out studies in social, economic, political, and cultural historical fields. This is quite common in art history studies in recent decades. For example, the research on patron and patronage systems that were prevalent in previous years was closely related to manuscripts. Such studies do not aim to justify a certain conclusion by the study of manuscripts. On the contrary, art historians often overturn a long-established conclusion. The finished work is seen as a result of modification or hiding of information, while the manuscript reveals many secrets behind it, which presents more primitive and authentic message.

Ive also noticed this in my research on the Barbizon School. For example, Jean-François Millet (1814-1875) repeatedly sketched about the subject of “The Sower” since the 1950s. There are not only the three completed oil paintings but also a large number of manuscripts. Among the oil paintings such as The Sower, The Gleaners and The Angelus, people could detect more of pastoral atmosphere full of religious sentiments. However, in a sketch for The Sower, there is an unexpected “telegraph tower”. In the history of art, the Barbizon School is always associated with the simple rural life that resembles the Garden of Eden in an ideal world. However, the advent of modern devices such as telegraph towers breaks this myth. A split emerges between manuscripts and the final work.

The Barbizon School was active from the 1840s to the 1880s. In the 19th Century France fraught with revolutions, how could Barbizon, which was only tens of kilometers away from Paris, be free from turbulence and emerged as Eden? In fact, many artists came to Barbizon to escape the turmoil in Paris, but this was not an idyllic pastoral land, but in the throes of French modernization. At this juncture, it was the golden age of the French industrial revolution when the peasant economy began to shift to agricultural capitalism and large farms began industrialization. The farm not far from Millet's residence was a large one that was no longer an idyllic Garden of Eden. Art historian T.J. Clark called the firewood gathers in Fontainebleau forest “the proletariat in the forest”, where disturbing social factors surged. Why, then, did Millet filter the scene in reality, and eradicated the modernity in his manuscripts, eventually depicted an outdated rural scene?

Art historian Robert L. Herbert (1929- ) considers Millet as a 19th century myth instead of a reality. By studying and comparing thousands of manuscripts that have been overlooked or marginalized, he views Millet's pastoral landscape as an individual's extreme reaction to the industrial changes in the city. That is, by creating a better home out of the past, Millet tended to eliminate his fear of the rapidly expanding city and to free himself from urban life and the callous capitalist system. However, this insight was overlooked in the biographies, which had been taken as the primary material for the previous art historians.

Millet's first biographer is Alfred Sensier (1815-1877). Sensier was a civil servant of the National Gallery of France and a national arts and culture institution. He was also the main patron of Millet and Rousseau in Barbizon. Through his promotion and sales, most of Millet's paintings were sold to the middle class in the city of Paris. On the one hand, in the eyes of the then middle-class, the suburbs and the nearby rural areas were far from beautiful and were full of conflicts. On the other hand, in the turmoil of the revolution, they wanted to seek comfort and remedy for their anxiety from the ancient history of the countryside. As a result, Millet's portrayal of the outdated village landscape gave what consumers are eager to see. Therefore, it is not difficult to understand the tremendous changes made from reality to manuscripts and from manuscripts to his final works.

Manuscripts in the study of traditional art history often point to the story behind the important work, and the study of manuscripts often brings about new discoveries. However, with the rapidly updating research methodologies of art history, and the scope and definition of manuscripts constantly expanding for both modern and contemporary art, manuscripts are taking on different historical forms, varying from one to another to different degrees in forms, value and functions. In modern and contemporary art, there are many so-called manuscripts that actually do not correspond to the finished works. They are not the studies of a certain subject in the traditional sense, nor are they used to realize a certain result. Sometimes they are independent works per se, and sometimes they are attached images or texts.

In addition to independent art works, manuscripts of modern art sometimes are emulated practices. This is especially true for Van Gogh, whose large number of surviving manuscripts is copies of Millet's work. In the 20th century, visual acquisition of the real image became unnecessary because of the advent of cameras and video recorders. Many of the new art genres that emerged after World War II can also be described as manuscripts in the broad sense. For example, the conceptual art popularized in the 1960s and 1970s not only has the root of surrealism but also is a leftist response to the pursuit of materialism in the World War. Therefore, the concept of de-materialization became predominant. However concept always has to be presented with material at the lowest limit, hence the manuscript became the most important carrier of concepts, and i.e. literature itself became art

In contemporary art, direct visual reproduction of the reality becomes less frequent, so does the manuscript in the traditional sense. But for the installation, performance or conceptual art, there would be what we call blueprints, which in fact include the artist's ideas and illustrations. Sometimes the blueprint itself is a work of art. When we call them manuscripts, there are in fact inherently different from those during the Renaissance period of time. For the study of art history, their value and judging criteria are still needed to be considered. However, unlike traditional manuscripts, they can sometimes be used as a kind of productive material.

There was once a project called “The Abolished Plan” curated by Biljana Ciric, who collected plans which had failed to be finalized since the early ‘80s in China, and explored the reasons behind. The exhibition not only had correlation with the curatorial idea, but also with external factors such as the art agency, the art market and public aesthetic. From a grander perspective, these phenomena were also closely related to the reality of the Chinese society. Apparently, such a project about manuscripts is as creative and academic. It is obviously necessary for art historians and art critics to recognize the different historical forms and value ​​of manuscripts and then treat them differently from different perspectives with different approaches.