My mind is my shelter


There are two classes of people in this world: students and non-students.


“I once met a man who told me that I always had an exaggerated idea of things. He said: “Look at me, I am never excited”. I looked at him and he was not exciting. For once I did not over-appreciate.

There are painters who paint their lives through without ever having any great excitements. One man said to me “I lay it in the morning, then I have luncheon and I take a nap, after which I finish.” Certainly a well regulated way of a quiet gentleman and quite unlike the procedure of an idea-mad enthusiast who works eighteen hours in a stretch.

One of the reasons that exhibitions of pictures do not attract a larger public is that so many pictures placidly done, placidly conceived, do not excite the imagination. The pictures which do not represent an intense interest cannot expect to create an intense interest.

It is often said “The public does not appreciate art!” Perhaps the public is dull, but there is just a possibility that we are also dull, and that if there were more motive, wit, human philosophy, or other evidences of interesting personality in our work the call might be stronger.

A public which likes to hear something worthwhile when you talk would like to understand something worthwhile when it sees pictures.
If they find little more than technical performances, they wander out into the streets, where there are faces and gestures which bear evidence of the life we are living, where the buildings are a sign of the effort and aspiration of a people.

It may be that the enthusiast does not exaggerate and that an excited state is only an evidence of the thrill one has in really seeing.

When the motives of artists are profound, when they are at their work as a result of deep consideration, when they believe in the importance of what they are doing, their work creates a stir in the world.
The stir may not be one of thanks or compliment to the artist. It may be that it will rouse two kinds of men to bitter antagonism, and the artist may be more showered with abuse than praise,
just as Darwin was in the start, because he introduced a new idea into the world.

The complaint that “the public do not come to our exhibitions, they are not interested in art!” is heard with a bias to the effect that it is all the public’s fault, and that there could not possibly be anything the matter with art. A thoughtful person may ponder the question and finally ask if the fault is totally on the public’s side.

There are two classes of people in the world: the students and the non-students. In each class there are elements of the other class so that it is possible to develop or to degenerate and thus effect a passage from one class to the other.
The true character of a student is one of great mental and spiritual activity. He arrives at conclusions and he searches to express his findings. He goes to the market place, to the exhibition place, wherever he can reach the people, to lay before them his new angle on life. He creates a disturbance, wins attention from those who have in them his kind of blood – the student blood. These are stirred into activity. Camps are established. Discussions run high. There is life in the air.
The non-student element says it’s heresy. Let us have “peace”! Put the disturber in jail.

In this we have two ideas of life, motion and non-motion.

If the art students who enter the schools today believe in the greatness of their profession if they believe in the self-development and courage of vision and expression, and conduct their study accordingly, they will not find the audience wanting when they go go the market place with expression of their ideas.
They will find a crowd there ready to tear them to pieces; to praise them and to ridicule them.

Julian’s Academy, as I knew it, was a great cabaret with singing and huge practical jokes, and as such, a wonder. It was a factory, too, where thousands of drawings of human surfaces were turned out.
It is true, too, that among the great number of students there were those who searched each other out and formed little groups which met independently of the school and, with art as the central interest, talked and developed ideas about everything under the sun. But these small groups of true students were exceptional.

An art school should be a boiling, seething place. And such it would be if the students had a fair idea of the breadth of knowledge and the general personal development necessary to theman who is to carry his news to the market place.
When a thing is put down in such permanent mediums as paint or stone, it should be a thing well worthy of record. It must be the work of one who has looked at things, has interested himself in all life.

Art has relations to science, religions and philosophies. The artist must be a student.
The value of a school should be the life-centre of a city. Ideas should radiate from it.
I can see such a school as a vital power; stimulating without and within. Everyone would know of its existence, would feel its hand in all affairs.
I can hear the song, the rumor of such a school, putting its vitality into play at moment of play, and having its say in every serious matter of life.
Such a school can only develop through the will of the students. Some such thing happened in Greece. It only lasted for a short time, but long enough to stock the world with beauty and knowledge which is fresh to this day.
Schools have transformed men and men have transformed schools.

When Wagner came into this world, the world was very different from when he left it, and he was one of the men who made the changes.

Such people are very disturbing. They often create trouble. We can’t sleep when they are around. [vezi Omul inițiat este o sursă de tulburare”]

If the art galleries of the future are to be crowded with spectators it will depend wholly on the students.
If there had been no such disturbers as Wagner, auditoriums would not now be filled with listeners.

When a drawing is tiresome it may be because the motive is not worth the effort.
Be willing to paint a picture than does not look like a picture.
The mere copying, without understanding, of external appearances can hardly be called drawing. It is performance and difficult, but…

Every moment, every evidence of search is worthy of the consideration of the student. The student must look things squarely in the face, know them for what they are worth to him. Join no creed, but respect all for the truth that is in them.

The battle of human evolution is going on.

There must be investigations in all directions.
Do not be afraid of new prophets or prophets that may be false.
Go in and find out. The future is in your hands.”

roberthenriartspiritRobert Henri – The Art Spirit

Further reading



This entry was posted on 07/05/2016 by in Art, Books, Inspiring views, Robet Henri - The Art Spirit, Various.
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