Friday, April 30, 2021

Dueling pairs

 Arguably, the history of high culture in the West can be written, in part at least, as a series of contrasting pairs of eminent figures, starting with early Greek philosophy, where Heraclitus, advocate of universal flux, stands over against Parmenides, who denied the reality of change. Somewhat different is the contrast of Plato and Aristotle, captured in the famous fresco of Raphael.  

Switching to the visual arts, early modern France saw an epochal contrast between the followers of Rubens and the admirers of Poussin. In the last century there were the dueling eminences of Picasso and Matisse. Having long preferred Picasso, I recently switched to Matisse who satisfies by his colorism and joy of living. 

In modern music there has been the duel between the followers of Stravinsky and the Schoenbergians, with their strict twelve-tone canons.