Umberto Boccioni, Serata Futurista (1911)
Courtesy of Phaidon

“The Music of Painting”
published by Phaidon

February 13 2013
4:40 PM

In an essay for his exhibition project “Phono Photo,” Montreal-based artist Raymond Gervais stresses the many links relating photography to music. Primarily informed by sound, Gervais’ own work “invariably draws parallels between seeing and listening”, yet in his writing he also touches upon the affinities between music and painting. Consider, for instance John Cage’s musical piece 4’33” (1952) and Robert Rauschenberg’s visual “White Paintings” (1951). Phaidon takes up this theme with its recent publication The Music of Painting: Music, Modernism and the Visual Arts from the Romantics to John Cage. In it, art historian Peter Vergo offers an in-depth study of the rich inspirations and influences that characterized the relationships between artists and composers. Think of Modest Mussorgsky’s famous piano suite “Pictures at an Exhibition” (1874), composed in response to the paintings and drawings of his late friend Viktor Hartmann. Vergo analyzes how artists incorporated rhythm and musical themes into painting and how composers borrowed from the visual arts. Undoubtedly, Debussy drew from the impressionists and Kandinsky from Schoenberg, the latter a painter himself. Taking a leap into the present, “The Artist as Musician” is the title of a recent panel held at Art Basel Miami Beach moderated by Hans Ulrich Obrist. Among the artists/musicians: Rodney Graham, Ari Benjamin Meyers, and Jim Shaw. (Anja Isabel Schneider)