I went to the library today to browse the art section. I was looking for some inspiration for a theme or subject for a jazz café mural. "Something jazzy" I thought predictably, as I perused the shelves.
I rejected anything before the Impressionists because it didn't look risky and syncopated enough, although I was momentarily distracted by a tile pattern in the Imam Mosque in Isfahan:
The Impressionists themselves were too boating and picnics and green, only one small step away from gallant William Morris and the Pre-Raphaelites, really. What I needed was a dose of rebellion.
John William Waterhouse Gather Ye Rosebuds While ye May 1909
Berthe Morisot Eugene Manet et sa Fille au Jardin 1883
Dada began to look promising but they were too anarchic and random - the antithesis of what I was looking for: the tight/loose, individual/cooperative blends of a good jazz band.
Raoul Hausmann ABCD 1923-1924
Balla, of the Futurist movement was getting me warmer, and I could have stayed with the Futurists, with their interest depicting sounds and movement;
Giacomo Balla Mercurio Passa Davanti il Sole 1914
....but the radical Cubists were calling me. I stayed with them for a while, turning over the pages. I looked at the multiple simultaneous viewpoints of Picasso - it seemed like the weaving of the muted trumpet and the dance of the bass. I looked at the African masks of Les Demoiselles d'Avignon and I could sense the African blues roots of a jazz band. But something was still missing. The cubist's lines were too similar - all scratchy and unsure. Where was the tip-toes and sinuous confidence of a clarinet? Where was the peggy plonks of a piano? Where the confident power and slurs of the solo sax? I needed a variety of marks. And much more variety in colour. Begone dull browns and fawns of the Cubists! Bring on the Bauhaus! We need the underlying discipline of the melody even if the interpretation varies every night.
Pablo Picasso Les Demoiselles d'Avignon 1907
Then I spotted it: I picked it up - a small book with a painting of Pure Jazz on the cover: Yellow-Red-Blue by Wassily Kandinsky. Ah. He's the Man.
Wassily Kandinsky Gelb-Rot-Blau 1925