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It takes patience to observe admittedly that the canvas of the painting has been artful, well before the painter made his first stroke. But it lacked beauty; a superior possibility to offer the self-satisfaction of a pleasant experience to the beholder.
Whatever the subject, a true artist always transfers to the canvas, and renders permanent to all visible eyes — a moral beauty: not mere animal beauty, not even the mere virtue of the form, but a higher kind, a spiritual beauty.
Imagination is the inherent power of an artist, who clothes profound truths in his work, through words in poetry, by sound in music, by colours and forms in painting, by form alone in architecture. The eye to see in the visible forms the “invisible law”, combined with the hand to give to the visible the invisible power, constitutes genius; the union of reason and imagination.
Art is that subtle reality of nature to infuse the world, its bosom, with symmetry and asymmetry, chaos and order, in every manifestation of its subjects. And to assimilate art is to exercise keenness in our observation of the existence.
“When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back.”
The first criteria for being an artist is to have taste.
It is a hopeful sign when any artist becomes intellectually self-reliant — a sure sign of developing character and taste: when he accepts an inspiration because, in his recognisance, he believes it to be intrinsically good. Self-trust is inseparable from his being, and to inspire anyone to a higher degree of self-trust with his work is above all, to help him to help himself.
He is an artist who is able to look at those truths which, transient and rare though it may be, others make still rarer by overlooking.
Aesthetics is the science of art.
It is the joint result of an intellectual and a sensitive life: requiring an exquisite delicacy in the organisation of the nervous system, to convey to the mind the slightest impressions from the external world, with intellectual power to appreciate them.
To enjoy these more refined delights of sense, which a perfect and harmonious form, or richness and delicacy of colour, or the harmonies and melodies of sound, supply to the cultivated eye or ear, is the privilege of many.
But to give these “void nothings a local existence and a name” ; to fix in marble an ideal form, or to render permanent on canvas the gentle light of morning, or the bright yellow afternoon sun with heavenly alchemy; or with words alone to represent the luxurious existence itself, is the prerogative of a genius artist.
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