Today the West chronically associates artistic maturity either with transcendence, degeneration, or irrelevance. This volume looks to the n-representational arts of music, abstract painting and sculpture, and architecture for fresh insight into the juncture of aesthetics and mortality. In part one, Nancy Troy considers the fate of Piet Mondrian's final canvases, Thomas Crow finds undiminished joy in abstraction in the last works of Mark Rothko and Eva Hesse, and Richard Schiff explores the eternal change to stay the same of Willem de Kooning's final productive decade. In part two, Karen Painter analyzes Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's posthumous reputation, Bryan Gilliam examines Richard Strauss' unexpectedly enduring faith in German musical tradition, Stanley Cavell discusses the eternal irresolution of Gustav Mahler's last period, John Deathridge explicates Richard Wagner's ultimately debilitating relationship to symphonic form, and John Rockwell sees the Weimar Republic's demise prefigured in the struggle over state-sponsored opera in Berlin. Complementing these eight retrospective essays is Ernest Fleischmann's conversation with Frank Gehry, an architect whose most visible projects provide extraordinary spaces for art and music. This is a part of the Getty Research Institute Issues and Debates series.
Thomas Crow is director of the Getty Research Institute and professor of art history at the University of Southern California. Karen Painter is associate professor of music at Harvard University.