Wednesday, June 6, 2007

A man or an ape?

His paintings were first shown in London in 1957 as abstract lyrical or abstract expressionist works. Picasso and Miro were said to have bought his canvases, and an American collector of contemporary art bought three paintings at an auction in 2005 for $26,352. The artist's name was Congo - a chimpanzee.
This is not merely an anecdote; art does not belong exclusively to human beings, but to other animals as well. This is the main thesis of a new book by Ben Ami Sharfstein, Professor Emeritus at Tel Aviv University and recipient of the 2005 Israel Prize for Philosophy.
Sharfstein says that while the ape is interested in the process rather than the end product, man is interested in both the process and its result. Second, both man and ape arrange their paintings in similar fashions. The ape's art reveals balance, rhythm and thematic patterns. There is no way of distinguishing between a picture painted by a man or an ape. Sharfstein knows that these responses could also be used to bash contemporary art, "but I prefer to see them as indications of the interesting closeness between art and its pre-human sources," he says. . ( more from HAARETZ via Cliff)

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