(3) Why wasn't " Clothed Maja " pictured by Sato?
It was Sato's lifework to draw a picture that surpasses Maja of Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828 Spanish painter). All his works entitled Maja were pictured in "opened picture" form. Some etudes for Maja, too, are part of "opened picture" given no independence, but meant as pure etude. This is the prominent difference from other portraits of a nude woman that include works in "closed picture" form or pastels in enormous quantity.
Etude for At the Atelier;1982
"Opened picture" is a clipping of the external world. Since all
Sato's images of Maja were produced in his atelier, their "opened
picture" form indicates that the theme of these pictures is his atelier,
the most private and peculiar world for Sato. In other words, through the
images of Maja, Sato had been picturing a single world of atelier as a
place for the materialization of his ideal world.
The atelier was contiguous to Sato's deep internal world; hence it was
deep enough to be an object for "opened picture". However, aside
from Sato himself, its significance is not comprehensible to anyone. Furthermore,
the atelier is too small to show the expanse of the world which is expected
from "opened picture".
great significance of Maja is concealed in the fact that, in spite of such
dangers, Sato tackled the theme against his own picture style.
Maja was placed as a subordinate and truly relevant object of Sato's atelier.
Maja, if given independence, would duplicate the world and cause
an upheaval to pure realism. The reason for Maja never being pictured in "closed picture"
was to eliminate the possibility of Maja's building her independent world.
Sato desired to keep Maja, in particular, as his subordinate figure.
This was also different from the other female nude images.
Maja with Roses ; 1985
White Maja ; 1988
No Title 1 ; 1980's
Maja the White ; 1999
For Sato, Maja was a private, monopolistic property. However, when Maja
was pictured in the form of "opened picture", duplication of
the world was unavoidable because Maja expressed the internal idea as her own world; this led to the disruption of pure realism. The importance
of Maja is perceived in Sato's continuous struggle with this theme in spite
of such danger.
Among Sato's separate pictures, such as portraits and landscapes, Maja and "Don Quixote"
are the only two works that cause duplication of the world. Maja was just
as momentous as Sato himself.
Goya's (1746-1828 Spanish painter) two famous Maja are conceivable as a compound of the highest possible artistry and eroticism
at the time; unification of clothed figure's concealment and nude figure's
exposure. The nude figure consumes and attenuates the appreciators'
eros, whereas the clothed figure accumulates and prompts it.
to this combination, visual eroticism is introduced, too. These complicated
attempts obtained an eternal life through Goya's hand. If such plan was
intended by the painter and the model, there might have been a
stimulative complicity between the two.
This multilayered eroticism could be generated in the accumulated elements
of historical circumstances, the model's status, and the two pictures in
the same composition. However, in the present society, it is impossible
for the eroticism of Goya's Maja to exist.
Then, what was Sato's intention to purposely designate Maja as his
lifework? The reason why very Maja was chosen - instead of Venus of
Giorgione (1476/78-1510 Italian painter) or Titian (1488/90-1576 Italian painter), "Grand-Odalisque"of Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres (1780-1867 French painter), nor "Olampia" of Edouard Manet (1832-1883 French painter) - cannot be explained by the similarity of picture philosophy or technical
The only reason left for Sato to have chosen Maja would be the relation of complicity between the painter and the model. He chose one model that deserved his own Maja. Then he could have shown this complicity by depicting both nude and clothed images - what made Maja distinctive. But he did not do so, because it would be a suicidal means to wane Maja's inner eroticism.
Parody of Clothed Maja ; 1996
There is one work by Sato titled "Parody of Clothed Maja". In order to preserve eroticism though, the clothed image should not be
a parody. And it was not even produced voluntarily.
Since Sato had given Maja an exceptional status, there was no reason for
him to hold back from picturing its clothed image. There should be a more
profound reason; the greater significance than strengthening Maja's eroticism
should be deduced from the base of his picture philosophy.
for the clothed Maja not being produced is in the higher plane. To reach
there, we need to go back to the root of female nude or clothed images.
Sato argued, "In a nude image, the entire body of a woman
represents her face, while in a clothed image just a part of her face is
depicted". This was a matter of self-evident for Sato, who attached
his importance to facial expressions as the entrance to the internal world.
However, to gain clearer understandings, it is necessary to descend to
the abyss even beyond his own consciousness.
nude image is a picture depicting her flesh as nature creates, that is to say, the
picture in line with nature. Clothed image, meanwhile, is a product of
artificial culture. Clothing is a fruit of the culture, and to wear them would
mean concealing the nature with clothes.
Whereas avoiding creation of a
clothed image would mean being distanced from the culture, and depiction of only
a nude image signifies the deep involvement with the nature. It can be
paraphrased that for Sato, utter devotion to the nature is more important than
the issue of personal eros.
Pure realism and naturalism are not necessarily connected each other. Sato's
naturalism was a personal world-view irrelevant to his picture philosophy.
Realism and naturalism have similarity and both appeared in about the same
period of history; for this reason there is consistency between them.
Nonetheless, since Sato was always a painter, he wouldn't deny whole culture
while being grounded on naturalism. "Humans cannot exist away from
culture" is the word of Sato. If Sato denies the entire culture, he
had to renounce the act of painting itself. Therefore, Sato did not
deny culture, but placed it in a lower position than nature.
This attitude was expressed in his pictures as well. His female nude images
did not fully assimilate the nature; they appeared not in the scenery of
the nature, but in his atelier, the cultural space located in the midst
of a megalopolis, Tokyo. No nude images located outside of his atelier
were found among the huge number of the same kind.
The nude women including Maja were always pictured with furniture or ornaments,
as the cultural products placed in the cultural space, or they were wearing
"A picture must not narrate excessively" was a habitual phrase
of Sato. This referred mainly to the accessories of a nude woman and the
ornament placed in the surrounding. When using the expression "narrative",
he was targeting the culture. Words are closely related to the culture;
then it is no other than the literature what represents the culture. Therefore,
Sato's naturalism can be considered as an attitude of anti-literature.
The anti-literature in this case, is handling the common theme in a different
viewpoint from literature. Sato was not fighting against the literature,
as he said "I want picture to be as expressive as literature",
and "The picture without political argument is an empty picture".
Also, Sato cited cubism as a representation of the picture which lacks literary elements. He described
it as follows: "Cubism impoverished the picture. When the literary
aspects are excluded, the picture becomes disabled."
anti-literature of Sato is that he renders a literary theme by the use of image
operation rather than words. The term, anti-language, may be more
appropriate to this extent. Let us recall the relationship between words,
image, and picture again.
The picture confronts the words through the image. If the picture displays its own world, it would oppose that of the literature; if remains to be an implement for the literature, it would be subordinate to it. The former refers to "absolute picture" and the latter "programme picture". Pictures with religious, mythical, historical subjects, which recognized as "advanced picture" by Salon Academy at the French palace, are categorized as "programme picture".
Sato's picture draws out a single world led by his pictorial principles, it
does not permit the invasion of another world from outside. That makes Sato's
picture basically "absolute picture".
Literature integrates various phenomena by means of words. If a variety
of images are pictured, the similarity with literature will arise, weakening
the picture's originality. Consequently, still life picture, which is thoroughly
aiming for the individuality, would be the most powerful opposition to
the literature; and hence it is suitable for "absolute pictures".
However, a pure realist Sato could not use still life picture
against the literature, since it lacks a world-view.
Abstract picture is directly oriented toward "absolute picture",
and introduction of another world wouldn't destroy picture's predominance.
On the other hand, representational painting must draw actual objects; so the secondary world should be cut off as
much as possible in order to struggle with the literary world permeates
from the actuality.
Realism has obtained the voluminous success in the field of literature.
However, even the second half of the 19th century's France has not
turned out a painter superb enough to cope with the brilliant realistic
Picture and music dominate over literature in baroque, classicism, and impressionism; in a rivalry in romanticism; and hold an unchallenged position in surrealism. In this regard, the territory of realism would be unfavorable stage for
the picture to confront the literature. In realism, the picture is
most vulnerable to become an illustration.
its disadvantage in realism, Sato ousted the literary implements from the picture. He refused to indulge in the pleasure of private eros in Maja
series, and abstinently kept his pure realism: this is the reason for the
absence of clothed Maja. For Sato, because his atelier is a place closest
to his inner world, all female images besides Maja are pictured in nude;
consequently, the clothed image was never produced.
Further, Sato launched an aggressive counterattack on literature. The primary method was the integrated picture (Its meaning will be mentioned later.) Here, Sato dared to step into the
"programme picture", standing on a viewpoint broader than common
literature though. Perceiving from his independent viewpoint, Sato depicts
the world that rivals the literature utilizing pictorial method alone in
Meanwhile, in respect of separate picture, Sato was devoted to the absolute
picture. The aforementioned process to bring the external universe in the back of a canvas and an internal idea on its surface to the limit is one of the methods. In Maja series, he adopted a different way of extending his small atelier as much as possible. Sato says that this method was modeled after Jan Vermeer (1632-1675 Dutch painter).
In many pieces of Maja series, parts of the poster of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
(1864-1901 French painter) and a mirror cropped with the edge of the canvas
are seen. This was of a straightforward intention to have the poster suggests
one section of atelier, and the mirror does another. Sato described his
aim put into the mirror in Maja as "The mirror duplicates the world,
erasing the triviality by another viewpoint ", or "Including
the mirror would introduce the different space and suggests the rear world".
Red Towel ; 1982
Gold Bracelet ; 1983
Red Hat ; 1993
Doll and a Woman in the Nude ;1993
Cropping these with the edge of canvas and placing individual objects on
the border line of "opened picture"- was his intention to emphasize
the continuity with the external universe. Sato said that he is clearly
conscious of the external universe, from his atelier to the entire country
of Japan. He overcame the physical limitation of his atelier, introducing
an expanse for which the "opened picture" must provide. His picture
style was kept consistent in this manner.
(Regardless of the size, Sato's atelier was opened to the universe. In
this respect, he criticized the attitudes of the painters of "École de Paris"
who closed up their ateliers like a fortress.)
Incidentally, Maja series was the only example, among the works of
Sato, in which the complete form of architecture was depicted. In others, the architectures were drawn only as a part of the omitted setting. This
indicates his dull interest in architecture.
Perhaps for Sato, architecture is an art not as worthy as literature to
cope with. He commented that "Production of a world in the atelier
is as painful as solving a mathematical equation." Construction of
the world of atelier can tie in with the architecture.
According to Sato, the art can be divided into: literature, picture, music,
and architecture. He stressed that picture and music relate to literature,
and architecture is in the antipole of literature. However, architecture
might be the art whichSato was unfamiliar with.
Dessin is led by the image without
a world. World has the commonness with architecture. Contempt of architecture
would inevitably become weightiness of dessin. In respect of
drawing a picture, Sato's contempt on architecture and emphasis on dessin are two sides of the same coin.
― Written, summarized and translated by Taketoshi Murayama ―
Original translation is rewritten by Michiko Takahashi Christofis ―
This text must not be translated into any other languages without author's
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