A D R I A N S T O K E S
Adrian Stokes and the
"...our own art lacks
emblematic tension. They (the
artists) are bound to reflect our lack of corporate
emotion by lifting the structure of their art to a
Adrian Stokes, Quattro Cento, p. 41
"In this barren age it is
extremely difficult for us to
realise...the vast emotional sources upon which
Quattro Cento men relied."
Adrian Stokes, Quattro Cento, p. 51
"The true emblems of our age
appear over negative
to give the complete reassurance we require of art."
Adrian Stokes, Quattro Cento, p. 42
"Object and subject are
irretrievable in motion,
inapprehensible and unapprehending. In the
flashes of identity between subject and object lies
the nature of genius. Any attempt to codify such
flashes is but an academic pastime."
Jules Laforgue, "L'Impressionsme," 1883
From the beginning, Adrian Stokes' description of 15th-century Italian art in The Quattro Cento: A Different Conception of the Italian Renaissance (1932) was a determined effort to confront the intellectual attitude of his critical contemporaries. The above quotations pulled from a book ostensibly about the 15th century bespeak this moral commitment.
In his first book The Thread of Ariadne (1926) Stokes had roughed out a working hypothesis for approaching the modern predicament. The categories of traditional thoughtor what Stokes called the "common heritage"1 could no longer be kept separate from each other if he were to adequately deal with the "overly self-conscious" modern era and its contradictory relizations. Stokes proposed that the understanding of meaning through contrast and difference become the new "first essential."2 And this identity-in-differencea concept Stokes borrowed from F.H. Bradleywould become animated through the "art of suggestion,"3 with its oscillation between opposites. This dialectical dance held the "keys of understanding...the suggestion of meaning"