IN SEARCH OF A NEW ART: VOLDEMARS MATVEJS AT THE CROSSROADS OF EXPLORING NON-EUROPEAN CULTURE AND SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERIES IN THE EARLY 20TH CENTURY (Nakotnes makslu meklejot: Voldemars Matvejs arpuseiropas kulturu petniecibas un 20. gs. sakuma zinatne
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The early 20th century brought rapid changes in scientific and technological developments, politics, government and social behaviour, prompting a radical reassessment of art. Theoretical works by Voldemars Matvejs (1877-1914) - 'The Russian Secession' (1910), 'The Principles of New Art' (1912), 'The Principles of Creativity in Plastic Arts. Texture' (1914), 'The Art of the Easter Island' (1914), introduction to the selection of Chinese poetry 'Chinese Pipe' (1914) and 'Negro Art' (1919) - reflect all the peculiarities of the early 20th century modernism. The article aims to reveal the significance of several scientific discoveries and terms in the theoretical works of Matvejs and his contemporaries. The article begins with an examination of two sources that influenced Matvejs' worldview. This developed partly out of the philosophy of nature (Naturphilosophie) of the time, featuring naturalistic overtones partly related to the scientific examining of the human mind. Matvejs' notebooks contain the name of the German physiologist Max Verworn (1863-1921) who dealt with both experimental physiology and the psychology of art. Mysticism was of no lesser importance for Matvejs' theories that endowed every natural process with a mythical significance; in this respect he was hardly unique among the representatives of modernism. It is important to note that Matvejs was familiar with the German Neo-Kantian philosopher and historian Georg Mehlis' (1878-1942) work Formen der Mystik. The idea of 'origins' was related to nature and the effects of the forces of the outer (macro) world. However, it was equally important to find some elementary particle.
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