Hans Strelow : the frontiers of post-war art


Transcription of an interview with Hans Strelow, the Düsseldorf art dealer, who was an art critic between 1960 and 1971, before opening his gallery.

In May 2014, Hans Strelow was kind enough to share some considerations about the dissemination of art movements after World War II. Two hours were recorded, and a brief selection is presented here.
(Rachel Stella)

Hans Strelow : the frontiers of post-war art


Structuralism in Morellet’s and Sýkora’s Structures

Jan Andres
Faculty of Science, Palacký University, Olomouc


Structures can be seen, examined and created, but they can also be ignored, changed and destroyed. Every structuralism that studies structures always emphasises the whole over individual sections (the whole is greater than the sum of its parts), with a crucial role ascribed to the organisation of structures and the functional relationships between their elements (constituent parts). The same principle forms the basis of Hermann Haken’s (1927) synergetics1 and my fractal analysis2 of structures in quantitative linguistics – which, like the majority of structuralist movements, was preceded by Swiss linguist and semiotician Ferdinand de Saussure (1857–1913). However, this approach deliberately highlights the inadequacy and limited applicability of Descartes’s analytic method (Discourse on the Method, 1637).

The French today understand structuralism or post-structuralism primarily as a monumental philosophic movement represented by Michel Foucault (1926–1984), Roland Barthes (1915–1980), Jean Baudrillard (1929–2007), Gilles Deleuze (1925–1995), Jacques Derrida (1930–2004) and others. In Czech circles, structuralism is justifiably often associated with the Prague Linguistic Circle, whose core members were Roman Jakobson (1896–1982), Jan Mukařovský (1891–1975) and Vilém Mathesius (1882–1945). The Prague structuralists’ aesthetics evaluated a work semiotically as a sign whose parts and whole are bearers of meaning.3

In no way is my aim here to evaluate. However, I would like to proceed from a mere description of structures to at least an introduction to possible perceptions of structures. It is not important to understand the technical principles in this regard. My approach could be called radically “anti-Bernsteinian”, as the final goal is everything and the means are nothing – a concept that was once calculatedly attributed to the Jesuits. Recognising this risk, I will use an analytical approach in an attempt at describing the structures of François Morellet (1926–2016) and Zdeněk Sýkora (1920–2011) in as “structural” a manner as possible.

For me, the French tradition of visual, combinatorially-variable structure does not start with philosophers or linguists, but perhaps surprisingly with the Carmelite Order, which gave rise to two remarkable figures: Sébastien Truchet (1657–1729) and Dominique Douat (1681– date of death unknown). In addition to fulfilling their monastic obligations, they both worked with different, primarily practical disciplines. In 1704 Truchet published a study6 on creating patterns out of tiles split by a diagonal line into two differently-coloured triangles. Instead of combinatorial patterns, the arrangement options are demonstrated on lovely copper-plate engravings with the use of symmetry. Since 1987 Truchet’s studies have been available in English translation by Pauline Boucher with additional modern commentary provided by Cyril Stanley Smith.7

Truchet’s monastic brother Dominique Douat built on his studies in 1722 with a book8 in which Douat works with the simple concept of successively rotating each tile by 90°. In so doing he codified the four basic “Truchet tiles” for a gridded field. Naturally, the patterns that arose were again consciously chosen based on symmetry. Douat’s book can be considered a period manual for the purely deterministic production of predominantly (but not necessarily) symmetrical structures.

Fig. 1: Truchet’s graphic breakdown of reductions from a total of 64 possible pairs

Fig. 2: Four “Truchet tiles” and 16 possible variations with repeating pairs from Douat’s book

François Morellet did not develop his compatriots’ work any further; in fact, he did not even know about it. 9 Instead, he relied more on the opposite principle of stochasticity, which I will hereinafter refer to as randomness.10 Into his best-known structures, Morellet encoded numbers from the phone book11 and the decimal expansion of the Ludolphine number π = 3.14159…,12 expressing the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. As coding means creating a bijective (one-to-one) assignation (in this case, digits to elements), the specific method of coding depends on the number of selected elements. Morellet then plotted the resulting coded sequence lexicographically on a gridded field (chequerboard).

For his early 1960s binary (digital) structures made using two elements – which had long, yet perfectly fitting titles: Répartition aléatoire de 40 000 carrés suivant les chiffres pairs et impairs d’un annuaire de téléphone, 50 % bleu, 50 % rouge (resp. 50 % noir, 50 % blanc, etc.) – it was sufficient to assign colour to even numbers and another to odd numbers. Different coding for two differently-coloured square elements could be executed, e.g., in a binary system (1 = black, 0 = white), which to a certain extent would today correspond to the increasingly popular use of QR (Quick Response) codes. In the same period, Karl Otto Götz (1914) completed his related binary two-colour structures titled Statistisch-metrische Modulation, Statistische Verteilung and Density. In the 1970s Ryszard Winiarski (1936–2006) created his extensive numbered Area (Polish: Obszar) series based on a similar principle. 13 In 1971 Galerie Denise René in Paris published an album containing eight corresponding Morellet screenprints with the shortened title Morellet, 40 000 carrés.

In 1958 François Morellet created his famous black-and-white structure, titled Répartition aléatoire de triangles suivant les chiffres pairs et impairs d’un annuaire de téléphone, again by encoding numbers from the phone book – but this time he used four Truchet tiles plus white (empty) and black (full) squares. However, I do not know how he assigned the six elements to individual digits. He might have used only the first six digits (1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6) and ignored the rest, or perhaps he used dice, but the title of the structure rules out this option.

Fig. 3: A page from the telephone book prepared by Morellet for encoding into the structure

Fig. 4: The first 875 digitally-differentiated (even=white, odd=grey) digits of the decimal expansion of the Ludolphine number π

On several occasions Zdeněk Sýkora provided a detailed explanation of the constructional principle (“My System”) behind his structures himself14 or in conjunction with mathematician Jaroslav Blažek “Computer-aided Multi-element Geometrical Abstract Paintings”, Leonardo 3, 4 (1970), 409–413. These sources clearly indicate that a computer was always used (likely for the first time15 in Europe) as an aid to facilitate technically complex operations. Once again it should be emphasised that Zdeněk Sýkora made sure (perhaps too solicitously) to preserve the “painterly nature” of his works.

It is known that Sýkora learned more about combinatorics and the potential it offered from Hlaváček’s translation of chapter 6 of Werner Haftmann’s The Mind and Work of Paul Klee (Faber & Faber, London, 1954). In the chapter titled “Pedagogical Sketchbook”, Haftmann describes and interprets Klee’s teaching methods from his eponymous brochure,16 which was an official Bauhaus textbook. Sýkora especially connected with a passage about the repetition of units forming a structure: “Since these figure arrangements rest on the principle of repetition, any number of parts can be added or taken away without changing their rhythmic character. Therefore the structural character is divisional.”

Less well known is the fact that Sýkora’s system is essentially deterministic. After making the first well-considered insertions of tiles into a grid (establishing “nests”), subsequent additions are made based on a set of fixed rules. Randomness enters the game only if the instructions are ambiguous – but it is more a question of choosing from several options than randomness per se.

For example, in the 1966 painting Black and White Structure (oil on canvas, 220 × 110 cm) described by Sýkora and Blažek in Leonardo, the restrictive rules of a pre-set scenario would only have led to possible modifications to the original, which my former student Martina Losová was able to computer simulate (see fig. 5–9) using permissible variations (there are four different relational rules).17 The same principle can be applied to practically all of Sýkora’s Structures, including his prints, with the exception of his early attempts (Grey Structure and all of his paintings from 1963).

Fig. 5: Computer simulation of Sýkora’s Black and White Structure
Fig. 6: Another variation based on the same rule #2 (differing red elements)

Fig. 7: Variation based on rule 0

Fig. 8: Variation based on rule 1

Fig. 9: Variation based on rule 3

The rules of Sýkora’s system show a certain formal similarity with the best-known cellular automaton – Conway’s Game of Life.18 This interesting question was already being studied in the late 1940s as part of the exploration of discrete dynamic systems by such brilliant mathematicians as John von Neumann (1903–1957) and Stanislaw Ulam (1909–1984). John Horton Conway’s (1937) Game of Life was first presented in a 1970 article in Scientific American by popular science writer Martin Gardner (1914–2010). Stephen Wolfram brought research into cellular automatons to the next level with his aptly titled A New Kind of Science (Wolfram Media, Champaign, Il., 2002), a 1,200-page book that went on to become a bestseller.

Other interesting comparisons are the prints of Anni Albers (1899–1994),19 who studied at the Bauhaus, or the artist’s books of contemporary young American artist Tauba Auerbach (1981),20 whose work can be found in the collections of the Centre Pompidou in Paris, among other places – but this would go beyond the scope of this study. In closing, I will limit myself to noting that two of Zdeněk Sýkora’s (combinatorial) Structures and one of his Macrostructures were used for the covers of Czech university mathematics textbooks:

  • G. Kuroš, Kapitoly z obecné algebry (Alexander Gennadyevich Kurosh, Lectures on General Algebra), 1st edition, Academia, Prague, 1968.
  • G. Kuroš, Kapitoly z obecné algebry (Alexander Gennadyevich Kurosh, Lectures on General Algebra), 2nd edition, Academia, Prague, 1977.
  • Ralston, Základy numerické matematiky (A First Course in Numerical Analysis), Academia, Prague, 1973.

More detailed information about the two artists’ structures within the scope presented here, as well as a comparison of their approaches, can be found in my articles:

  • Andres, Tvorba Zdeňka Sýkory očima matematika (The Work of Zdeněk Sýkora through the Eyes of a Mathematician), unpublished, final version from 2008, 15 pages.
  • Andres, Zdeněk Sýkora and François Morellet: Parallels and complementarity. Leonardo, 47, 1 (2014), 2731, 34.


  1. See H. Haken, An Introduction. Nonequilibrium Phase Transitions and Self-Organization in Physics, Chemistry and Biology, Third Revised and Enlarged Edition, Springer, Berlin, 1983.
  2. Andres, “On de Saussure’s principle of linearity and visualization of language structures”, Glottotheory 2, 2 (2009), 1–14.
  3. An engaging book that focuses on the semiotics of images is Peter Michalovič and Vlastimil Zuska’s book Znaky, obrazy a stíny slov, published by AMU Press, Prague, in 2009.
  4. Measuring the aesthetic value (quality) in quantitative terms can be tricky and misleading. However, a whole range of evaluation criteria is available based primarily on the concept of Shannon entropy. This type of aesthetics is associated with names such as George David Birkhoff (1884–1944), Abraham Moles (1920–1992), Fred Attneave (1919–1991), Herbert Werner Franke (1927) and others. In the Czech Republic, Jaroslav Nešetřil (1946) has systematically explored the topic of mathematical aesthetics.
  5. The opposite of Eduard Bernstein’s (1850–1932) motto: “The movement is everything, the final goal is nothing.”
  6. Sébastien Truchet, Mémoire sur les combinaisons, Mémoires de l’Academie Royale des Sciences, 1704, 363–372.
  7. S. Smith, “The tiling patterns of Sébastien Truchet and the topology of structural hierarchy”, Leonardo 20, 4 (1987), 373–385.
  8. Dominique Douat, Methode pour faire une infinité de desseins differens, avec des carreaux mi-partis de deux couleurs par une ligne diagonale: ou observations du pere Dominique Douat, religieux Carme de la province de Toulouse, sur un memoire inseré dans l’Histoire de l’Academie royale des sciences de Paris l’annee 1704, presente par le reverend pere Sébastastien Truchet, religieux du même ordre, academicien honoraire, Florentin de Laulne, Claude Jombert, André Caillau, Paris, 1722.
  9. Confirmed in a private discussion with the artist in February 2010.
  10. In mathematics these two concepts differ; in the 1950s, the Prague school of probabilists led by Antonín Špaček made a fundamental contribution to the study of random processes in connection with probabilistic generalisation of deterministic operator theory. Neither of these concepts can be mistaken for another important mathematical concept, deterministic chaos, which in a certain regard can be understood as a higher (dynamic) form of order.
  11. The first four digits, which represented the city code, were always omitted.
  12. A 40,000 decimal expansion of π to 40,000 digits is available online. The world record for calculated digits exceeds this limit many times over and is continuing to rise. See, e.g., R. P. Agarwal, H. Agarwal, S. K. Sen, “Birth, growth and computation of pi to ten trillion digits”, Advances in Differential Equations 2013, 2013:100, 1–59. Morellet also used the coding of the decimal expansion if π for his lines. See François Morellet, Konstruktionen mit der Zahl π, Chorus-Verlag, Mainz and Munich, 2001.
  13. See J. Grabski (ed.), Ryszard Winiarski. Prace z lat 1973–1974, IRSA, Krakow, 2002.
  14. See Kappel, L. Sýkorová: Zdeněk Sýkora – 90. Verzone, Prague, 2010, pp. 64–71. It was first formulated in 1967 at the request of Umbro Apollonio from Archivio Storico delle Arti Contemporanee in Venice; see Lenka and Zdeněk Sýkora Archive, Louny.
  15. Sýkora’s first Structure created with the support of a computer in the sense described here is Black and White Structure (oil on canvas, 100 × 100 cm) from 1964, originally titled Variation I VI E. In addition, similar structures were created (but not in the manner described here) in Czechoslovakia in the early 1960s – such as an illustration by Miloš Noll (1926–1998) on the last page of J. R. Pick’s book Monoléčky (Mladá fronta, Prague, 1961) Jiří Krejčí’s illustration on the cover of J. Oliverius and R. Veselý’s conversational Arabic book Egyptská hovorová arabština (Státní pedagogické nakladatelství, Prague, 1965). Both structures were composed of Truchet tiles.
  16. A Czech translation was published in 1999: Paul Klee, Pedagogický náčrtník, Triáda, Prague, 1999 (translated by Anita Pelánová from the German, which had been published in 1925 as the second in a series of Bauhaus books).
  17. Losová, Matematické aspekty výtvarného díla Zdeňka Sýkory (Mathematical aspects of the work of Zdeněk Sýkora), thesis, Palacký University, Faculty of Science, Olomouc, 2010.
  18. The Game of Life is described in a broader context in the book by Z. Neubauer and J. Fiala Střetnutí paradigmat a řád živé skutečnosti, Malvern, Prague, 2011, pp. 39–49.
  19. Fox Weber, B. Danilowitz, The Prints of Anni Albers. A Catalogue Raisonné, 1963–1984, The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation / Editorial RM, Everbest Printing, Co., Panyu, Guangdong, 2009.
  20. taubaauerbach.com/works.php.

Prof. RNDr. Dr. Hab. Jan Andres, DrSc. studied Numerical Mathematics at the Faculty of Science, Palacky University in Olomouc, where he also serves as head of the Department of Mathematical Analysis and Mathematical Applications. He has been a visiting professor at American and European universities, particularly in Rome and in recent years at the Sorbonne in Paris. He gained the highest scientific rank not only in the Czech Republic but also in neighboring Poland.

Professor Jan Andres is also a member of many professional scientific journals around the world. He specializes in mathematical methods of exploring nonlinear dynamics and fractals and their applications in quantitative linguistics.


Many thanks to Professor Andres for allowing Kulturebite to post this text.

Pro. Andres, Lauri Bortz, Mark Dagley
Ars Combinatoria exhibition, Galerie Caesar,
Olomouc, Czech Republic, November 2015

Modern architecture is an anti-human philosophy, whose results are self-evident.

The goal of Bauhaus architecture is to design a building where man’s ties to the ground and family are severed but at the same time he lives in close proximity with other people while never developing ties to these people….there is no soul there, nor can there be.

Bauhaus architecture is not merely meant to destroy the family, but to propagate an entirely new social order. It was to represent politics by design, or state socialism. The anti-Christian nature of Bauhaus is evident in the flat roof: a flat roof by definition is an imposition of ideology upon a reality (e.g., it will leak). But more importantly, a flat roof represents modern man’s negation of God, and without God there is no future…

Bauhaus Architecture as Sexual Ideology

Ignatius Press, 1995

Back Cover:

JonesFollowing up his best selling books Degenerate Moderns and Dionysos Rising, E. Michael Jones completes the trilogy as he reveals in this book how modern architecture arose out of disordered lives of its creators.

Beginning with the simultaneous collapse of both his marriage and the Austro-Hungarian empire, Walter Gropius began to formulate an architectural rhetoric that he felt would speak to the needs of the newly emerging modern man. As a sexually liberated social nomad, modern man would have no need for home or family, no need to be rooted in a particular time or place or family or soil or culture. He was to live henceforth in the “international style”. Within a period, that deeply materialistic architectural vision would conquer the world.

From the suburbs of Moscow to the south side of Chicago, the new man would live in machines, living machines, to use Gropius’ words. Jones’ book, Living Machines is an explanation of where that vision came from, where it led, and why it ultimately failed.

“Socrates said that the order of the city was the order of the soul writ large. In other words, man’s internal spiritual order, or disorder, is inevitably reflected outward in the political and cultural arrangement of his surroundings. In Living Machines, E. Michael Jones shows this to be no less true for modern architecture. Anyone who has stood dumbfounded before the sterility and ugliness of many modern buildings must have wondered what conception of humanity inspired these structures. Jones has the answers in the moral biographies of the seminal architectural revolutionaries of the 20th century. As Jones has shown in his other works, aesthetic revolutions are born of moral revolutions. As provocative as Tom Wolfe’s From Bauhaus to Our House, Jones’s book is far more profound. In his dissection of the spirit of modernity, Jones has again proven to be a master pathologist. This book should be read as part of a brilliant trilogy including his Degenerate Moderns and Dionysos Rising.”  Robert Reilly

PictureNigel Whitbread, lead architect for designing and building Grenfell Tower, late 1960s – mid 1970s.
​Nigel Whitbread:
​I was born in Kenton near Harrow. My parents had a grocer’s on St Helen’s Gardens in North Kensington. We moved as a family to this area in 1949 to be nearer the shop. I read quite recently Alan Johnson’s biography, This Boy. He is a Labour MP and former Home Secretary and interestingly was born in 1949. However his life and the poverty he lived through was in a different world, although just a mile away as the crow flies. He didn’t enjoy the family life that I enjoyed nor did he appear to enjoy his time at Sloane grammar school which I had done earlier.When I was going to leave Sloane, I didn’t know what I was going to do. One day I had an interview at an architect’s office. My eyes were opened. I liked the idea of drawing boards and doing something that I never understood to exist. The first firm that I worked for was Clifford Tee and Gale and that’s where I did my apprenticeship. I went one day a week plus night school to the Hammersmith School of Art and Building. Subsequent to this I became a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

I knew through delivering groceries that there was an architect who lived near my father’s shop. I told my parents this and my mother said she would speak to the wife of the architect who was also a partner in the practice. I went for an interview and got the job. This was at Douglas Stephen and Partners and this was probably the most influential time in my career. It was only a small practice but doing important things and at the forefront of design influenced by Le Corbusier and other modernists. It was there that I worked with architects from the Architectural Association and the Regent Street Polytechnic: Kenneth Frampton who was the Technical Editor of the journal Architectural Design; and Elia Zenghelis and Bob Maxwell who both spent most of their careers in the teaching world. It was actually like going to a club and we were doing terrific work.

Later on, I went to work with Clifford Wearden on Lancaster West. At that time his office was a two storey building in his back garden. It was a huge job for a small group. It was unusual for councils to use private architects in those days. Clifford was a serious architect but had a flair about him. He’d been in the Fleet Air Arm and had a lovely Alvis car which was a convertible as I recall. He did have a very bad habit whilst he was driving of turning his head and facing me whenever he was speaking which I always felt a bit disarming. I found this quirkiness an attractive aspect in somebody who was very precise in most things he did.


Photos showing construction of Grenfell Tower and reproduced from unknown architectural magazine, early 1970s.

​The whole scheme had been well prepared and thought out by the time I joined to lead the team in designing the tower. The design is a very simple and straightforward concept. You have a central core containing the lift, staircase and the vertical risers for the services and then you have external perimeter columns. The services are connected to the central boiler and pump which powered the whole development and this is located in the basement of the tower block. This basement is about 4 meters deep and in addition has 2 meters of concrete at its base.  This foundation holds up the tower block and in situ concrete columns and slabs and pre-cast beams all tie the building together. Ronan Point, the tower that partially collapsed in 1968, had been built like a pack of cards. Grenfell tower was a totally different form of construction and from what I can see could last another 100 years.Grenfell tower is a flexible building although designed for flats. You could take away all those internal partitions and open it up if that’s what you wanted to do in the future, This was unusual in terms of residential tower blocks. I also don’t know of any other council built tower block in London or anywhere else in England that also has the central core and six flats per floor rather than four flats which is typically done on the London County Council or Greater London Council plans. We were wanting to put our own identity on this. The GLC built Silchester estate and I had nothing against that but this was so different in many ways. While a lot of brick had been used in LCC and GLC buildings, we thought that putting bricks one on top of the other for twenty storeys was a crazy thing to do. We used insulated pre-cast concrete beams as external walls, lifted up and put into place with cranes and they were so much more quicker.

In an architects mind, they want towers to be an elegant form rather than stumpy. This was a challenge and was why I introduced as many vertical elements within the fenestration as I could. The only thing I could play with was the windows and the infill between the windows. I treated it like a curtain wall, to get the rhythm of a curtain wall. We lost some of this verticality in the recent re-cladding but it’s not the end of the world. And the building is now better insulated as we had different standards then.

The floor plans were based on Parker Morris Standards which they used at that time and sadly have gone now. These were very good standards for storage and the way furniture had to be included in the plans. It was delightful to hear that residents thought flat arrangements worked well and I saw the views recently which I always thought were terrific. I wouldn’t have minded living in a tower block myself. Tower blocks were criticized for not being suited to people or a lot of families were being forced into it and they were feeling more and more remote from the street and meeting other people. But there is another side to this and it always seemed to me that if American’s can live in tower blocks, why can’t the English?

This is the first and only tower block I designed. This was also the first social housing I ever worked on. No social housing has been built since this and I’m very much against knocking things down unnecessarily. I had heard that there had been problems a few years ago with the heating and it was no good and talk of the whole block having to come down. And I thought, if my heating goes wrong, I don’t want to pull my house down.

It’s a great shame that the basic concept for the whole of Lancaster West to have a first floor deck for people, shops and offices and parking underneath wasn’t seen through for whatever reason. This means that there remains a basic flaw. Clifford Wearden and Associates only built Stage 1 and the remaining parts were built by other architects. I don’t think the designers are to blame because there was a requirement that it was designed to have cars for every flat. We’ve all seen things have changed dramatically since then and now cars can’t be accommodated everywhere.

After Clifford Wearden, I worked for Aukett Associates and I was there for 30 years until retirement. Recently I’ve become involved with my local residents association and committees in drawing up the St Quintin and Woodlands Neighbourhood Plan. We included the Imperial West site over in Hammersmith and Fulham because that was already impacting on our conservation area. Hammersmith wouldn’t agree to this but we continued developing the plans liasing with RBKC and residents. The Neighbourhood Plan includes objectives around shopping, housing, offices and conservation. We have also identified 3 existing unbuilt spaces which are now designated as local green space and cannot be built on. Latimer Road is included in the plan and we think that could be redeveloped to improve the area and have more housing put on top of the business units. We have to have housing somewhere. That’s where you could do it. But don’t build on our green spaces. The Localism Act which the Conservative government introduced is a very powerful tool actually. Residents are able to influence the way their area is developed.

Epistle on talent.

  I assure you that it is much less complicated and much easier to explain than you seem to believe. When you say that the painters do not get along with each other, and that you amuse yourself by judging the blows, you are mistaken. Or, at least, you only think of the few painters, whom you met at random in life, […]. The Salon d’automne, a battleground that was prepared and wanted by a small band of artists, writers, journalists and politicians, who still need a semblance of combat – this amusing, living, It is newer than the others allows one to take attitudes, positions. But the struggle, or the semblance of struggle which makes it illusion, is provoked and maintained deliberately. I say that a painter alone can realize what is going on there.

  First of all, we must agree on the word painter, for if he designates any holder of brushes, colors and palettes, this word is vague and insufficient. The artists who are now called independent, neo-impressionist, etc., note this, and strive so hard to refrain from painting, that Monet’s time was endeavored to paint. To make an object, to copy nature, to approach it (by various means), is precisely what one abstains theoretically. The operation of the voluntary mind, which a group of ” advanced ” painters, in the presence of, and in relation to nature, may seem dangerously arbitrary, as it is not spontaneous, in men of the twentieth century. Cézanne is admirable because he has a primitive temperament and a pure eye that always remained virgin. Exception, exceptional conditions, provincial environment, loneliness, terror of Paris, etc. etc. He does not realize, because he can not realize and cries not to power. This Catholic bourgeois-peasant finds himself becoming the master of a generation of precious souls, pupils of Gustave Moreau, rotten already by the contacts of the blue fruits of this old maniac. They are commonly called others: they disgust me, with their copy of nature, their “rendering”, their painted photograph. Maurice Denis once said to me: ” one can no longer paint a hand like a master of the Renaissance; Why strive for it, since it is sure of being beaten beforehand . “ It is a foolish statement, because I could answer: why take up the tradition of the primitives and try to make a child’s eye when one is an old rogue of the twentieth century? Sure to be beaten too. Matisse is inferior to Giotto; Denis is at Botticelli; The pure harmonists (all in the way of pure decoration) are beaten beforehand by the weavers, the savages, the Orientals, the Gobelins. The art of our ” performers “, ” virtuosos, ” as they were scornfully called yesterday, is as much, but more distant from Velasquez, Van Dyck, than Denis is the great Italian frescoes of the fifteenth .

  I have the advantage of amusing myself with their attempts, of admiring them often, while they, regimented and trained in cliques and small neighborhood chapels, are exclusive.

  In addition, they have a new flag to defend. It is a struggle of principles, of religion. They arise in revolt, in contested, without seeing that they are becoming the sustained, the applauds, the successes of the day. The challenged will be on another side and the unknown will be in another corner.

  Yet another element of trouble and error: since Wagner one no longer wants to be deceived and not to understand everything. We are looking for works that are difficult to understand. We die of the desire to have a great misunderstood, an incomprehensible genius to admire without understanding it. Now, nothing more rare than a great misunderstood, revolutionary genius bringing new formulas. One looks for one under the paving stones and one takes the first larva that came for this white robin. One is tired, disgusted, because of this very search. The question, as it arises, is insoluble.

The art of painting has for centuries been the representation of nature, with very definite ends: decoration of buildings, ornament of our dwellings, portraits to preserve the intact image of relatives and friends: trades To exercise honestly and with as much talent as possible; Without it being all the time, without judging the works of the day before, the very next day. Criticism, the intrusion of literary writers, professional amateurs, not to mention speculators, the market, banking, stock-picking: these are the new agents of dissolution and even of death.

Finally, the social question, and the financial question, the financial competition, the money that some believe that others earn; A remnant of hatred of the poor devils for those who ” sell “, who have official orders; For the protection from above granted, for a lifetime, at a price of Rome, to a protégé of the Institute.

  A general lassitude, an anxiety that is felt everywhere; A need to deny, to destroy, absolutely imperious and anarchic: put all this into consideration. It is frightfully complex; And when you say that painters can not get along, you think of the failures, of the intelligents who have been duped by a false vocation, of all those inverted and androgynous essayists we have become. It is therefore on an elite, on an exceptional group, on a band of unhappy people that your observation takes.

When you say that Ingres denied Delacroix – yes, he had to do the one who cursed him; But who tells you that without pupils, alone in relation to himself, he would not have admired him as Delacroix admired him, Ingres? . . . I have known generations of painters who were fair to each other. They were doing justice, while they hated each other. I have known this until the appearance of your buggers. Degas used to say: such a? It is said that he raped his sister and stole his brother; Yes, but he is a famous artist .

  Degas, the last representative of a pleiad of admirable artists, is interested in everything, discovers qualities everywhere, and he knows it! He knows it because it is a time when talent , difficulty overcome , difficult and successful passage , counted.

  By eliminating talent, craft, rendering, realization, we have suppressed any basis, any element of criticism. If what we do is not a trade: then it is useless to undertake to judge. Let’s feel ! Most of the young painters you have met in life are tendentious and unable to agree on a question of painting with the devotees of the next chapel because: if they have no genius, they Have no talent . If they do not have the gift, they have nothing at all . Nowadays criticism does not admit anything beyond the gift (so rare, granted to two or three in the space of twenty years), criticism taking into consideration only genius, invention, discovery, in short Which is called personality, she is obliged to vomit on almost any work, or else she exalts herself with emphatic and lyrical as soon as she thinks she has laid her hand on a temperament.

Now, the history of the last twenty years, which you will grant me, as I know well, proves that criticism, and often the artists, have put their finger in the eye every time; Because they have believed, fifty times, that they have found the rare bird; This bird died young, and soon they perceived that only a little dust had been held in the hand. The Seurat, the Van Gogh were the last examples of notable judicial errors. And poor Carriere! Already evaporated … All the great young successes, all, all.

I’d have a lot more to say, but I’m tired. Good evening and see you soon.

Jacques-Émile Blanche – Portraitiste

October 27, 1907

PSWhen I say Career, I’m not talking about the tradesman. Full of easy talent. I speak of genius, the thinker, the original, the creator.

What is noble?

brian-hatton-English-1887-1916-self-portrait-in-hunting-kit-1903 oil-on-board-hereford-museum-and-art-gallery.jpg

The care of external detail, in so far as this care distinguishes us, isolates us, and prevents us from being confounded with others.

In language, clothing, dress, that appearance of frivolity whose stoic hardness and perfect self-control are used to defend themselves from any indiscreet curiosity.

– The slowness of the gesture and the look. There are not too many precious things; They come and naturally tend towards the man of high value. We will hardly admire.

– To endure poverty and embarrassment – and illness. To abandon happiness to the great number, that happiness which is peace of the soul, virtue, comfort, anglo-angelic mercantilism to the Spencer.

– To avoid mediocre honors, to distrust anyone who is ready to praise us; For he who praises thinks he understands what he praises.

– To doubt profoundly that hearts can communicate; Our solitude does not result from a choice, it is a fact.

The conviction of having duties only to his equals; Knowing that others can behave at will; That only his peers can hope for justice, far from being able to count on it.

– The aptitude for leisure, the profound conviction that any profession, without dishonoring us positively, makes us fall. No assiduity, in the bourgeois sense of the word, although we know how to honor and assert this assiduity; Not to resemble those artists who keep chuckling like chickens giggle, lay eggs, then giggle again.

– We will protect artists and poets because they are more noble beings than those who are content with a few practical abilities, just simply “productive” men; Do not let us confuse them.

– The taste of forms; The protection afforded to all that is formal, the conviction that politeness is one of the great virtues; The mistrust of all forms of carelessness, including freedom of the press and thought, which allow the mind to take comfort, to behave in a rustic and to stretch.

– The taste of women, considered as a variety of beings may be smaller, but more refined and lighter. What a joy to meet creatures who never have anything but dance and madness and adornment in their heads! They have always been the delight of all tense, virile and profound souls who bear the burden of heavy responsibilities.

– The predilection for princes and priests, because they maintain the belief in a diversity of human values.

– Know how to be silent; But not a word on it if we are listened to.

– To endure long enmities; Lack of conciliatory mood. The vigorous races, as long as they are still rich and overflowing with strength, have the courage to see things as they are: tragic.

– The disgust of demagogy, of the “lights”, of the “bonhomie”, of the trivial familiarity. Constantly contend the majority, not in words, but in deeds.

“We shall not much estimate the good men, who seem to us like beasts of the flock; We know that among the worst, wicked, and hardest men there lies an invaluable golden nugget, an essence of goodness which prevails over all the souls of milk souls.

– Feeling always “in representation”. We do not think that a man of our kind is judged by his vices or his follies. We know that we are difficult to know, and that we have every reason to conceal ourselves under appearances.

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Maria Luisa Anido & her 1864 Antonio de Torres guitar

Anido3Maestra Isabel María Luisa Anido

Original letter from Tomás Prat to the father of Maria Luisa Anido, in which the shipment of the [Antonio de Torres] guitar once owned by Francisco Tárrega is confirmed.


Barcelona, ​​August 2, 1917

Mr. Juan Carlos Anido, BA

I greet the distinguished friend Mr. Anido and his family.
With the steam “Balmes” will arrive to that of
Buenos Aires the guitar of the immortal Tárrega. He could not get on the mail “Infanta Isabel” because, when I received his letter, it was already full but will leave the 6th of Barcelona and will arrive at the end of August.
The guitar was made with what I said, but I did not receive any letter from Domingo in which I was given instructions on the shipment of the guitar, although I gave them more than enough.

A few days ago Master Llobet compared V.’s guitar with his own, seems to be very much in love with his guitar, so much that after much testing one and the other said: “the two are superior and look alike” but, for Me, is much better the V.  The guitar of Tárrega is of the year 1864 and the one of Llobet of 1857, therefore, if we were to the logical, Torres had more practice when it made the guitar of Tárrega than when it made the one of Llobet, Although this does not matter at all.
Yours is insurmountable.
Regarding the packaging of the guitar was done everything indicated V., the insurance of maritime accidents and war, the cost of packaging is 32 pesetas and insurance of more than 350 pesetas.

Surely my son will have already heard of our change of address but in case he forgot, I offer our new room: Gerona 113 ppal 2nd and here you have some friends willing to receive it on the planned tour in Spain, hopefully soon .

Greetings from my
family for yours and V. receive the affections of your friend

Tomás Prat

Maria Luisa Anido colorMaria Anido in 1922 with her Torres.

Every human being sometimes needs a kind of spiritual dialogue with the infinite, he needs to dream of that ever-moving immaterial beauty of poetry or music, recreating with colors or sonorities the mysterious impressions that awaken in his soul. {M.L.A.}


In  1977 Maria Luisa Anido had come to live in Barcelona bringing with her the Antonio de Torres that once belonged to Tarrega…. [which] Pujol recognized as the sweetest guitar that he had never heard. The guitar was in need of a restoration, since Maria Luisa had not wanted to take it to any Luthier, and it had remained unused for many years. In that state I had the opportunity to play it and I actually felt that sweetness that Pujol spoke of. Of course, we can think that my sensations were a product of the suggestion of the moment, but I think not, the Torres guitars, whatever you try, have a unique and special voice, although it had deteriorated, …it retained its characteristics. With that guitar I remember playing “Marieta” and … [seems to find no words]

It must have been very exciting to play a guitar that belonged to Tárrega…
that guitar is part of the voice of modern Spanish music. Torres is part of the nationalist-nationalistic voice in the aesthetic sense of Albéniz, Granados, Falla. One would not understand Spanish music without the unique voice of Torres’ guitars.
Carles Trepat

The instrument now fully restored.