“Satie, for his part eschewed sonorities, made each note audible, looked back to Greek and Medieval modes of composition. His work is brief and witty, and in this too both Stein and Brancusi resemble him. He and the sculptor were to be joined, after the First World War, in a friendship based on perfect sympathy for each other’s art…
Satie Stein and Brancusi were the strict and elegant extremists of the new spirit. Going beyond primitivism, they sought an art that was fresh, clean and unencumbered”—'Brancusi', Sidney Geist p. 142
“It was a dialectic of simplicity/difficulty as much as that of innocence/experience in relation to the childlike that interested both Brancusi and Satie as a dynamic within their work. For Brancusi, simplicity was a state of being only to be achieved, or arrived at, through the childlike absence of sophistication or self-consciousness. Satie’s piano pieces, which were given strange, childlike titles, were deceptively difficult pieces which could nevertheless be played by an adult and a child alike. He provided sheet music with bizarre directions and annotations, part helpfully poetic, part parodic of their own didactic function.”—from Jon Wood’s ‘When we are no longer children; Brancusi’s wooden sculpture c. 1913-25 in Constantin Brancusi ’ The Essence of Things’, Tate, 2004
“The latter version (of Prometheus) was originally purchased by the English pianist Vera Moore who met Brancusi in 1931 through the art critic H.S. Ede. Although rarely discussed by scholars, Vera Moore became close friends with the artist, and in 1934 she gave birth to Brancusi’s sole and illegitimate son, John Moore. Vera Moore liked to keep Prometheus on her piano, perhaps to seek inspiration while she was playing, and Brancusi commended her choice. In light of this context, the child-like head of Prometheus can be read not only as Brancusi’s alter-ego, but also as a representation of his newborn son. The artist actually likened the intimate countenance of the sleeping head with the delicate intimacy of an embryo from which life emerges.”—http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/LotDetailsPrintable.aspx?intObjectID=1686039
“As Francis Poulenc so aptly put it Socrate with its ‘limpidity like running water’ marked the ‘beginning of horizontal music that will succeed perpendicular music’”—Mary E. Davis ‘Erik Satie’, Reaktion Books 2007, p.122
“Schoenberg made extensive notations on the side-lines of tennis matches. Schoenberg’s system extracted from the game its duplicate, in motion and movement, mistake and method, so that if a player wished, he or she could play the game on the piano later that evening and let everyone hear just exactly what transpired”—Frances Stark Childish Mathematics (1997) in ‘This Could Become a Gimmick (Sic) Or an Honest Articulation of the Workings of the Mind’, MIT Visual Arts Center, 2011
“Furniture music? It is music that must be played between the acts of a theatrical or musical spectacle, and which contributes, like the sets, the curtains or the furniture of the hall in creating an atmosphere. The musical motifs are repeated without stop and it is useless, says Erik Satie, to listen to them: one lives in their ambience without paying them any attention. It’s up to you to find a way to hear the musique d’ameublement and to devise an opinion on the topic. But that has nothing to do with the furniture we’re so taken with this season. It’s just an opportunity to make and hear music, the passion of the moment.”—J.R.F ‘Conseils d’été’ Vogue (Paris), 15 June 1920, quoted in Mary Davis, ‘Eric Satie’, Reaktion Books, 2007
“Past masterpieces are fit for the past, they are no good to us. We have the right to say what has been said and even what has not been said in a way that belongs to us, responding in a direct and straightforward manner to present day feelings everybody can understand.”—Antonin Artaud, ’ The Theatre and it’s Double’, 1938
The lack of any feeling of progression that we find in his personal use of harmony is emphasized by his equally personal use of form. By his abstention from the usual forms of development and by his unusual employment of what might be called interrupted and overlapping recapitulations, which cause the piece to fold in on itself, as it were, he completely abolishes the element of rhetorical argument and even succeeds in abolishing as far as is possible our time sense. We do not feel that the emotional significance of a phrase is dependent on its being placed at the beginning or end of any particular section. On Satie’s chessboard a pawn is always a pawn; it does not become a queen through having travelled to the other side of the board.
Satie’s habit of writing his pieces in groups of three was not just a mannerism. It took the place in his art of dramatic development, and was part of his peculiarly sculpturesque views of music. When we pass from the first to the second Gymnopédie or from the second to the third Gnossienne we do not feel that we are passing from one object to another. It is as though we were to move slowly round a piece of sculpture, and examine it from a point of view which, while presenting a different and possibly less interesting silhouette to our eyes, is of equal importance to our appreciation of the work as a plastic whole. It does not matter which way you walk round a statue and it does not matter in which order you play the three Gymnopédies.
from ’ Music Ho! A Study of Music in Decline’, Constant Lambert, 1934
“1. Direct treatment of the ‘thing’, whether subjective or objective.
2. To use absolutely no word that does not contribute to the presentation.
3. As regarding rhythm: to compose in the sequence of the musical phrase, not in the sequence of a metronome.”—Ezra Pound’s principles for imagist poetry, from ‘Ezra Pound Early Writings Poems and Prose’
“When we concentrate on a material object, whatever its situation, the very act of attention may lead to our involuntarily sinking into the history of that object. Novices must learn to skim over matter if they want to stay at the exact level of the moment. Transparent things, through which the past shines!”—Vladimir Nabokov, ‘Transparent Things’, 1972
“It seems in Latin ‘photograph’ would be said ‘imago lucis opera expressa’; which is to say: image revealed, ‘extracted’, ‘mounted’, ‘expressed’ (like the juice of a lemon) by the action of light. And if photography belonged to a world with some residual sensitivity to myth, we should exult over the richness of the symbol:the loved body is immortalized by the mediation of a precious metal, silver (monument and luxury); to which we might add the notion that this metal. like all of the metals of Alchemy is alive.”—Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida, p. 81
“Being essentially a subject that cannot be treated ‘realistically’, the tree offers a marvellous pretext for the fabrication of a rhythmic structure of shallow recessions and advances that have little or nothing to do with the void and solid of the original motif”—Bridget Riley, introduction to ‘Mondrian; Nature to Abstraction’
“Brancusi was intrigued not so much by myth as by the miracle of metamorphosis, of matter in flux.”—Natalia Dumitresco and Alexandre Istrati: ‘Brancusi:1876-1956’ in ‘Brancusi’ published by Faber and Faber 1988