4. Purpose

In the fourth step Bunn focusses quite deliberately on art and contemporary problems of art. After the more general points of the first three stages, this makes important sense as art is, after all, at the core of the reasoning beyond the Dix Semblaients Monts. The general tenor of the philosophy may be appropriate for other aspects of life in general but it is fundamentally art which concerns Bunn.

One of the key problems of contemporary art is seen by Bunn, as it has been by others in more recent years, as the reason or grund for art today. During the 20th century there was a long term and absolutely critical divergence away from the idea of art, of itself, as the significant object towards the artist - or the creative mind of the artist - as being the focus. We see this from the art of Braque and Picasso as well as in the art of the likes of Warhol or Bacon. Despite the incredible differences in subject matter and technique. But there is a problem. Art becomes too remote. Too personal and too removed from the ordinary person. And it is this remoteness and, ultimately, indifference towards art that Bunn addresses.  

In the extract from an interview, which Bunn uses to illustrate this important step, Bunn rejects the whole notion of the gallery and of the artistic specialist. Even, almost, of the artist himself. The implications which follow from this are manifold: for a start, Bunn is making it clear that anyone can and ought to practice art. For that, as a way of communicating with oneself, there is sufficient reason alone for the practice of art. This is no ordinary claim to make. Not least for an established artist. For this idea would and does offend the traditional artist as well as the critics and, even, the whole art establishment.

But Bunn goes much further. He also argues that 'decorativeness' (as well as therapeutic value) is essential to art - and that it has only been during the last century that this defining, fundamental notion of 'what art is' has been abandoned. (He agrees that such abandoning was necessary then, but argues that is no longer necessary now. And when one views the indifference with which contemporary art is largely held, it is impossible to disagree with him).

In conclusion, there is a very prescriptive nature to the 4th step: in order to pursue art today, Bunn argues, one must have clear purpose - but that clear purpose is twofold and twofold only. One must pursue it in order to discover one's own reality and one must pursue it in order to decorate. These two aspects are indivisible. This is an absolutely pivotal build upon the art of the 20th century: in much the same way that Gaugin’s rebuttal of Impressionism “Ils ont cherche autour de l’oeil et non au centre mysterieux de la pensee” may have led to a century of necessary artistic introversion, Bunn’s claim that the eye must also play a role, of equal importance, changes the artistic game for the new century.

(It must be added that decorate is not used by Bunn in any tame or sentimental sense. There need be nothing safe or harmonious in decoration. But that aspect - the act of decorating - must nevertheless be fundamental to all art and to all artists).