A concept of 'Objective Art' was platformed in 1916 by the Greco-Armenian spiritual teacher George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff. Offering our attention to the items below, we have all caught hints, behind the outer form, of a reality more profound.
"Centred in a fiery corona, though swept by Time's tempest, Blake's 'Ancient of Days' marks out the lower worlds with refined attention."
"Yellowish-grey sand. Deep blue sky.
In the distance the triangle of the Pyramid of Kephren, and just before me this strange, great face with its gaze directed into the distance...I felt that...if I could stay under its gaze from birth to death, the whole of my life would flash by so swiftly for it that it could not notice me.
The glance was fixed on something else. It was the glance of a being who thinks in centuries and millenniums. I did not and could not exist for it. And I could not answer my own question - do I exist for myself."
"Immediately I am aware that this is art of a different order. Its purpose is spiritual; it gives me a direct experience of the vertical axis which connects the human with what is above.
Through contemplation or even study the symbolism can emerge, but it is the change of state expressed by the figures, and called to in the one who sees them, that opens the door to the inner meaning."
Chartres Cathedral: (photograph courtesy of Valoire-Estel -Blois)
Aristotle, depicted in this statue, seems to divide his attention between the activity in which he is engaged and himself. I look at it and I begin to sense my own 'self'.
As I write this, using a medium very different from his, or the masons of Chartres, I am helped - across the centuries - to remember myself."
For me this sketch, generally considered to be a self-portrait by Leonardo, conveys the intensity of a man who has glimpsed truth. Some words from a Kipling poem come to mind: 'Tell him, I too have known.'"
Gurdjieff on Objective Art
Extract from In Search of the Miraculous
by P. D. Ouspensky
"Do such works of objective art exist at the present day?" I asked.
"Of course they exist," answered G (G. I. Gurdjieff). "The great Sphinx in Egypt is such work of art, as well as some historically known works of architecture, certain statues of gods, and many other things. There are figures of gods and of various mythological beings that can be read like books, only not with the mind but with the emotions, provided they are sufficiently developed. In the course of our travels in Central Asia we found, in the desert at the foot of the Hindu Kush, a strange figure which we thought at first was some ancient god or devil. At first it produced upon us simply the impression of being a curiosity. But after a while we began to feel that this figure contained many things, a big, complete, and complex system of cosmology. And slowly, step by step, we began to decipher this system. It was in the body of the figure, in its legs, in its arms, in its head, its eyes, in its ears; everywhere. In the whole statue there was nothing accidental, nothing without meaning. And gradually we understood the aim of the people who built this statue. We began to feel their thoughts, their feelings. Some of us thought that we saw their faces, heard their voices. At all events, we grasped the meaning of what they wanted to convey to us across thousands of years, and not only the meaning, but all the feelings and the emotions connected with it as well. That indeed was art!”
In Search of the Miraculous:
Fragments of an Unknown Teaching, Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd., London, 1950