"The necessity of art" by Ernst Fischer
This is a reprinted version of the original 'Necessity of art' printed in 1971. Now sixty years later it has been reprinted with a forward by the equally amazing critic and theorist John Berger ('Ways of seeing' and 'About Looking' being two well know books of his). What is interesting about the re-release of this book is that although you'd think it would be outdated with all of the post-modern developments that have happened in the art world in the last twenty/thirty years, it could not be more poignant and essential for today as it was back then. Thus, as I will explain, what makes it the art book of the month for July!
This book is a really refreshing and inspiring read as it discusses the importance of art (and in broader terms, the creative mind/creativity in general), and how it not only acts as a means of interpreting the world but as a way of understanding it better as well. Fischer starts right at the beginning of history when man became Man through the use of creativity and problem solving, he created tools. Fischer continues to explain how man was formed through tools and this act of 'making' led to the beginnings of our evolution. He argues that it was this conscious decision for man to attempt to use and control nature through adapting tools is the root of human existence.
"This magic at the root of human existence, creating a sense of powerlessness and at the same time a consciousness of power, a fear of nature together with the ability to control nature, is the very essence of all art. The first toolmaker, when he gave new form to a stone so that it might serve man, was the first artist."
It is this kind of enquiry and meditation into the 'purpose' of art in society that helps inform how we view arts role in the world today and Fischer goes into explaining how it achieves this using examples in which he touches upon Marxism, philosophy and works of fiction, in particular Franz Kafka. At the end, I feel that this book really reaffirmed why art is so much more important than just the 'superficial' gaze it is sometimes branded with today and that actually a majority of our modern day artists are inventing and creating work that is relevant and important for the age we're in.
Truthful and honest, this book is an absolute must read! I'd really recommend it and would defy anyone to not find substance and inspiration in this book.