three shallow steps
  • [130]

    George Kubler works of art are 'shapes of time' developed in The Shape of Time; Remarks on the History of Things 1962. Claimed history be directly perceived as shapes. Cf historians consider artifacts as left-overs for ragments of past evidence lack context once made them transparent have to be reconstructed for us late-comers to appreciate with accuracy.


    Would shape of time be bent by time as age of aging? Kubler shape-of-time not bent by aging but addressing variation within common intent. Imagine two collections of variations, two shapes of time shuffled together. Sort out collections means spotting difference of theme since shape-of-time develop as marriage and interpenetration of theme and variation. Torso di Belvedere is theme and Michelangelo ignudi variations on that torso.

  • [134]

    Kubler did not specifically talk about theme-and-variation. Used arithmetic metaphor of prime numbers to account for his idea in chapter 'Prime Objects and Replications'. A prime divides by itself and '1'. And they turn up unpredictably along rising series of numbers. Kubler proposed there are works of art neither divisible nor derived from tradition. Relatively speaking. Such works are prime works of art.

  • [136]

    Does not prime art ring dated connoisseurship? He does not pass judgement on individual works of art rather makes general claim: as far as human conditions remain the same over time variation of response not endless. People repeatedly return to same solution both in life and art, solutions having proved valid in the long run: primary sources of variation.

  • [140]

    Theme of Diabelli first sneered at by Beethoven for its cheap charm nevertheless triggered composer, after some considerable hesitation, write 33 remarkable variations on it. Hardly complies with Kubler notion of 'primary work of art' opposite case: a singular extra-ordinary source-of-a-theme from which series of ordinary variations ensue. In a broader perspective not much of a difference.

  • [141]

    Kubler concerned with development as unfoldment. Cf jazz improvisation on standard melody or cell of music (So What).