Shinto Shrine Melee

Horace Bristol, Shinto Shrine Melee, New Year’s Day 1946

Reading an essay by Alois Reigl. “The Main Characteristics of the Late Roman Kunstwollen” (1901), I remembered a short conversation with Horace Bristol at the gallery at CSUB. I was struck by the similarities in approach between his photographs of the oil fields near Santa Paula in the 1930s and the photographs of refineries taken by Edward Weston around the same time. Though he knew Weston, he hadn’t seen those photographs, and was rather insulted that any comparison between his work and Weston’s might be made— he declared that he was influenced by Paul Strand, but not Weston.

Reigl’s theory of Kunstwollen (artistic will) seems an attractive way of explaining why artists who are otherwise unfamiliar with each others’ work might be drawn to depict the similar scenes in similar ways. Panofsky’s revision of Reigl is also striking. However, I was momentarily distracted by what seems to be an early version of a mosh pit.