Volume 15, 2013
Existence, Diacritics, Animality
Painting as Stylized Vision
the Movement of Invisibility in “Eye and Mindˮ
This paper explores Merleau-Ponty’s mature philosophy of painting as it emerges out of his essay, “Eye and Mind.” It does so by briefly outlining the ontology implicit in this discussion of the phenomenology of painting, an ontology that finds a more explicit expression in a consideration of other works by Merleau-Ponty, namely, The Visible and the Invisible and Phenomenology of Perception. This is an ontology of style, perspective, becoming. Having briefly sketched this image of the world, the paper moves to a study of the phenomenological significance of Picasso’s famous Dora Maar au Chat. This is the primary aim of this paper: the staging of an encounter between Merleau-Ponty, the phenomenologist, and Pablo Picasso, the painter. We will find in this encounter the claim that it is by means of the painter’s style that he brings his world to life. In seeing the painting, we see along with it: we see the painter’s own way of seeing the world. In seeing the painting we are literally seeing seeing. But we do so by means of our own stylized perspectives, for vision, in Merleau-Ponty’s eyes, is itself already stylized. This is a pan-stylicism: an endless interplay of stylistic becomings the locus of which is the painting itself. As the emblem of this interplay, the painting is capable of disrupting profane vision, of awakening vision to the bottomless plenitude of being, and transforming it thereby.