Too much plasticity (From Gaddis’s The Recognitions)

 — Where were you all day? Mr. Yak asked again, when they bumped the second time.

—The Prado.

—The art museum? Mr. Yak shrugged. —What did you do there? He glanced up at the face beside him, and said, —You don’t look like you liked it much. The art there.

—Well they . . . the El Greco, his companion began, as though called upon to comment, and he drew his hand across his eyes.

—They have so many in one room, they’re almost hung on top of each other and it’s too much, it’s too much plasticity, there’s too much movement there in that one room . . . He suddenly looked up at Mr. Yak, holding a hand out before them which appeared to try to shape something there. —Do you … do you see what I mean? With a painter like El Greco, somebody called him a visceral painter, do you see what I mean? And when you get so much of his work hung together, it … the forms stifle each other, it’s too much. Down where they have the Flemish painters hung together it’s different, because they’re all separate . . . the compositions are separate, and the . . . the Bosch and Breughel and Patinir and even Dürer, they don’t disturb each other because the . . . because every composition is made up of separations, or rather … I mean … do you see what I mean? But the harmony in one canvas of El Greco is all one . . . one . . . He had both hands out before him now, the fingers turned in and the thumbs up as though holding something he was studying with a life which Mr. Yak had not seen in his face before. But he broke off abruptly, and his hands came down to his sides.

From William Gaddis’s The Recognitions. 

Screenshot 2018-12-26 at 5.10.20 PM
Detail from The Crucifixion, El Greco, 1600

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