23 – Regulating the Harmony

Yesterday I talked about messing about with photographs and how time can disappear. The following quote is from the biography of Laszlo Moholy Nagy, by his wife Sibyl, shows how proper artists go about things

“If this bar —“ Mondrian pushed one black strip across the sheet, moving it a fraction of an inch at a time.
“Stop!” Moholy watched intensely. “Go back again.” The bar was returned to its initial place.
“Now try upwards.”
“No — no — not upward” Mondrian protested. “To the left, if at all only to the left.” Moholy knelt beside him. As Mondrian moved his strip to the left Moholy pushed another one to the right, slowly, slowly, almost imperceptibly slow. For a while they said nothing.
“It’s off balance,” Mondrian finally exclaims. “It’s off balance don’t you see?”
“Yes, I see.” Moholy was crestfallen. “Now I know.” With swift moves he rearranged the black strips. Then he jumped onto a chair, looking at the sheet on the floor. “Come up here,” he called to Mondrian, who was still kneeling. “From up here the tension is harmonised.”
Mondrian looked for another chair. It was the one on which I was sitting. I relinquished it and they both stood above my head pointing —
“To the left —“
“Higher — but to the right.”
it was Moholy’s task to execute the turns.
“Non—non—non! Mondrian’s quick fire objections in the French language. “Too much, I say, much too much!” …
The room was chilly and my feet were ice cold. I would have liked to leave. I was tired of standing. But I couldn’t make my prosaic presence known. The two men on the chairs were like seers, regulating the harmony of the universe with strips of black paper.

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