So wrote Fyodor Dostoyevsky , the famous Russian writer and philosopher, through the mouth of Prince Myškin in The Idiot. We must think that for this author, beauty was not a merely aesthetic value but also included goodness. It is the “καλὸς καὶ ἀγαθός” of the Greeks, the beautiful and the good.
Now, we have gone from Raphael’s Madonna – whom Dostoevsky loved to contemplate almost in a therapeutic function – to the golden toilet of Cattelan, to quote a book that I recommend you read (we now have a lot of time): “Art in the toilet. From Duchamp to Cattelan, the rise and fall of contemporary art “, by Francesco Bonami.
This essay came back to me because I believe it represents well what I am perceiving, looking around me and above all looking inside me. We were in a golden toilet, laughing at Cattelan’s golden toilet, applauding the genius of the idea, admiring the commercial shrewdness of the operation. Well, we literally ended up in the toilet. Then someone pushed the button and now we wander into the underground pipes, hoping that they will lead to the sea.
Cattelan is an artist and, like other artists, has evidently photographed the era in which we live, although I believe it represents an art that has exhausted its cycle, which began with Duchamp and now reiterated with no more ideas. Even our era has run out of time, and now it asks us for a step forward, begs us to change direction, begs us to think of a new renaissance, a rediscovered humanism.
In these particular days that we are living I have thought a lot about art, beauty in the broadest sense of the term, the need for man to represent something real or imaginary. We Italians are immersed in art and beauty, we take it for granted, we can admire it every day, perhaps we are not even aware of it.
Then something unexpected, unimaginable happens, and here each of us feels the need to cling to something, waiting for a future of which there is no longer certainty. I believe in the saving power of art, I believe in the disruptive power of beauty, I trust the power of artists who have the ability to be seismographs of the future and the unconscious.
We needed to stop and we didn’t. We have been stopped. Now we find ourselves holed up in our homes like frightened animals, with an anguish that grows within us. We look around for a sense difficult to find. My invitation is to rely on art: if you have a book, read it and admire its masterpieces, if you have a beautiful work, stop and love it, and if you have none of this, close your eyes and go back to the places that have you touched in your life.
I am looking forward to returning to travel, to visit galleries with you to lead you into the world of art; I am looking forward to being able to admire your homes, imagining something that is not yet there. For the moment we are all at home, let’s love it, it’s our refuge.
Vasily Kandinsky wrote: “Art goes beyond the limits in which time would like to compress it, and indicates the content of the future.” And I think that’s exactly how it is.