It goes without saying that Frye’s encyclopedic range of interest in and knowledge of the variety of art forms that make up a society’s imaginative culture is remarkable, unmatched by anyone I can think of. A good example is his essay “Literature and the Visual Arts” in CW 18, originally published in Myth and Metaphor. Frye’s wife Helen, of course, had a blossoming career as an art historian before Frye became a going concern and all hell broke loose; doubtless her interests, and of course his interest in Blake, helped to awaken his own affinity for the visual arts.
It is worth mentioning that the Art Gallery of Ontario is hosting an exhibit of Chagall’s work (and some Kandinsky), October to January. You can check it out here.
The AGO, by the way, has had a great new face lift, and is really worth visiting. I caught the New York Abstract/Expressionism (Pollock et al) this spring, and it was a real treat. The new CEO of the gallery, Matthew Teitelbaum, seems to have a magic touch.
A beautifully assembled collection of Chagall paintings, with music by Maurice Sklar
Today is Marc Chagall‘s birthday (1887-1985). Maybe one of the gentlest people ever to be a great artist, who was rewarded with an extraordinarily long life.
Frye in a single-paragraph review of The Art of Russia, in Canadian Forum, December 1946:
A very useful collection of black and white reproductions illustrating Russian painting from medieval icons on. It appears from it that after the seventeenth century, Russia become the Eastern colony of European art as America became the Western one, and Russia like America lost the ability to resist cultural invasions at the same time that she gained the ability to resist military ones. All the European fashions in painting seem to have rolled over Russia in waves, most of them dyed with a strong Germanic tinge by the time they arrived. The Revolution helped release a tremendous burst of creative energy, and the art of Lissitsky, Malevich, Chagall, and Kandinsky was the result; but, following a directive of Lenin, this energy was soon gleichgestaltet [forced into conformity] and a rather corny “socialist realism,” supposed to be directed more directly to the masses, took its place. The same development occurred in America under the WPA, where however, a more relaxed policy permitted the growth of more variety. (CW 11, 114)