Monday, June 06, 2005

Poetic Thoughts

Coleridge said of Alexander Pope that his work was "characterized not so much by poetic thoughts as by thoughts translated into the language of poetry."

I don't know for sure whether this was true of Pope, although it may have been, to some extent. But it's a brilliant observation about what makes great poetry, and what makes great art.

Many years ago, we made up a coat of arms for Harvey, in a lighthearted moment. If I can find a copy of it anywhere, I'll post it here. But we needed a Latin motto. Harvey decided that he wanted it to be a Latin translation of the phrase "To speak in stone." We came up with in lapidem dicere, which according to my online translator is a butchery, but what do they know? I knew more Latin then than I do now; I probably knew more Latin then than they do now.

Anyway, I believe that Harvey did speak in stone. His original concept for what became Opus 40, when he first began it as a series of pedestals for large carved outdoor sculpture, was that his carved pieces would represent what was called in those days "The Brotherhood of Man." Harvey believed in one world, he believed in working for world peace, he believed that we are all one family.

A year or so before he died, my brother Jon interviewed him, and during the course of the interview he said that he supposed his original concept had gotten lost when he made his dramatic decision to remove the carved pieces and continue with Opus 40 as an immense abstraction. But I don't think so.

I believe that one can "speak in stone" in representational sculpture, and that Harvey did. But in making his commitment to what Opus 40 became, I believe that he found the way to express sculptural thought, rather than expressing thought translated into sculpture, and that Opus 40 is his true statement of his beliefs, and everything he held dear.

No comments: