- What is art's purpose?
- What makes something art?
- What are creativity, imagination, and artistic
creation? Are they the same thing?
- What distinguished the modern world and its view
- Can art have a sacred component? Are artists
"divine" in any sense?
- Can art give meaning in and of itself?
- Why would some see art as a substitute for
- What do you think Malraux would make of the
First Day's Reading (Chapters I -
- How does Malraux describe Picasso's war with
nature, the unknown, indeed, with "everything"? (11, 31, 61,
65) What does Picasso mean by the "rape of nature"? (17, 55)
- Likewise, how does he describe Picasso's
antagonism, irony, and mockery? (68)
- What is Picasso trying to accomplish with his
imitations/dialogue/mockery of other painting and other forms? (28,
- Why does Malraux include the scene of the young
"hippie" ideologues at the exhibit? (80ff.)
- Describe Picasso's studio. How would you
characterize it? (chap. 1, 102)
- Why does Malraux argue that Picasso's personal
collection should not be divided?
- How does he describe the nature of Picasso's
sculpture? (e.g. 26) How do you respond to the photographs of them?
- Why does Picasso have a problem with a continuity
of style? (18-19)
- Harold Bloom calls the phenomena of an author who
needs to deny his or her connections to past authors "the anxiety of
influence." How is this present in art? (35)
- Why does Malraux compare Rembrandt to Picasso?
(86-88) Is it a convincing comparison?
- What is the search for the mask? (68-70, 96ff.)
Why is it important?
- What is the relation between death and Picasso's
questioning? (28, 41, 63, 78)
- Why does Picasso represent a spiritually void
time period? (33, 98-100) Do you agree?
- What is the power of artistic creation? (60, 62,
75) Do you agree?
Second Day's Reading (Chapters IV,
- Contrast Picasso's work on page 105 with that on
- Why does he believe that works should force us to
not trust the world? (110-111)
- How does Malraux develop the concept of the
Museum Without Walls with Picasso? (113ff, 133-135, 161, 175ff.)
- How does Picasso respond to art he encounters?
- Why describe his work and ability as that of
sorcery? (75, 126-128)
- What is the significance of the story of
- How is Picasso's self-reflection present in his
- Explain the theory of the Little Man (141-144).
Do you agree?
Chapter 5 Summary
In chapter 5, Malraux begins describing his visit to
an actual Museum Without Walls exhibit. He compares and contrasts the art
of Marc Chagall and Picasso, as well as that of Picasso and Goya. He
argues that horror in art is not the same thing as ugliness. He then
details his responses to stained glass, which he laments its loss of
popularity because of the use of light; Romanesque which he sees as the
most Christian of art in its form and faces; pre-Columbian art with its
deep mystery and obsession with death; Hopi Kaachins, which he reflects on
in an almost sentimental way, African art and how it forced the West to
recognize a different set of standards and forms; and Oceanic art, which
he insists on separating in color and texture from African art. He ends
the chapter by reflecting that each art culture reflects the worldview of
its culture, yet he sees these as all illusions or myths that seek to
cover over the ontological nothingness, and he again observes that modern
Western art has no spiritual vision to offer.
- Why does Malraux dream of an imageless world?
- How does he compare and contrast Christian and
Buddhist sculpture? (188ff.)
- What does he see as the potential negatives of
- How does he conceive of Takanobu's Portrait of
Taira no Shigemori as a challenge to Western art? (197ff.)
- What are other ways that he contrasts Western and
Chapter 7 Summary
Chapter 7 is primarily Malraux's speech that he made
that night after the exhibition. He makes the Museum Without Walls
problematic, though he ultimately values it for its time. He points out
that Western art is concerned with painting as composition and not as
subject matter. The nature of modern technology has made the art world
all-inclusive in its study and absorption of other times and cultures, and
this factor has replaced God and the religious. Yet, he contends, that
this has not jettisoned beauty, vision, nature, expression, and artistic
distinction, though it has altered them greatly. All styles are part of
metamorphosis and struggle with death. The Byzantine period
supernaturalized art; the Renaissance divinized beauty; Romanticism in
Goya showed that the world still had mystery at its core, while the late
19th century moved from the question of whether the art object is
beautiful to whether it is good. Realism and primitivism both prepared the
way for the modern art world in which the sacred was lost since with the
loss of beauty comes a loss of immortality. Instead the modern art world
looks to the power to create as the power for survival, for metamorphosis
releases it from time and eternity. The Museum Without Walls is "not
a tradition; it is an adventure" (234). Still, artists always
acknowledge the mystery of their creativity, even if the current art world
follows the waning of the "superworlds" of religion. It has
replaced the sacred with plurality, though even the Museum Without Walls
is not eternal.