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Zarathustra Seminars

[Carl Jung on Matter and Stone in the Creation of Art.]

I once saw a striking contrast in the use made of material in Florence.

I saw first in the Boboli gardens the two wonderful figures of the barbarians-you remember perhaps those antique stone statues.

They are made of stone, consist of stone, represent the spirit of stone: you feel that stone has had the word!

Then I went to the tombs of the Medici and saw what Michelangelo did to stone; there the stone has been brought to a super-life.

It makes gestures which stone never would make; it is hysterical and exaggerated. The difference was amazing.

Or go further to a man like Houdon and you see that the stone becomes absolutely acrobatic.

There is the same difference between the Norman and Gothic styles.

In the Gothic frame of mind stone behaves like a plant, not like a normal stone, while the Norman style is completely suggested by the stone. The stone speaks.

Also an antique Egyptian temple is a most marvelous example of what stone can say; the Greek temple already plays tricks with stone, but the Egyptian temple is made of stone.

It grows out of stone-the temple of Abu Simbel, for example, is amazing in that respect.

Then in those cave temples in India one sees again the thing man brings into stone.

He takes it into his hands and makes it jump, fills it with an uncanny sort of life which destroys the peculiar spirit of the stone.

And in my opinion it is always to the detriment of art when matter has no say in the game of the artist.

The quality of the matter is exceedingly important-it is all-important.

For instance, I think it makes a tremendous difference whether one paints with chemical colors or with so-called natural colors.

All that fuss medieval painters made about the preparation of their backgrounds or the making and mixing of their colors had a great advantage.

No modern artist has ever brought out anything like the colors which those old masters produced.

If one studies an old picture, one feels directly that the color speaks, the color has its own life, but with a modern artist it is most questionable whether the color has a life of its

It is all made by man, made in Germany or anywhere else, and one feels it.

So the projection into matter is not only a very important but an indispensable quality of art. ~Carl Jung, Zarathustra Seminar, Pages 948-949.