Thursday, December 07, 2006

Emerson's "Art"

Art
from Essays: First Series (1841)
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Give to barrows, trays, and pans
Grace and glimmer of romance;
Bring the moonlight into noon
Hid in gleaming piles of stone;
On the city's paved street
Plant gardens lined with lilac sweet;
Let spouting fountains cool the air,
Singing in the sun-baked square;
Let statue, picture, park, and hall,
Ballad, flag, and festival,
The past restore, the day adorn,
And make each morrow a new morn.
So shall the drudge in dusty frock
Spy behind the city clock
Retinues of airy kings,
Skirts of angels, starry wings,
His fathers shining in bright fables,
His children fed at heavenly tables.
'T is the privilege of Art
Thus to play its cheerful part,
Man in Earth to acclimate,
And bend the exile to his fate,
And, moulded of one element
With the days and firmament,
Teach him on these as stairs to climb,
And live on even terms with Time;
Whilst upper life the slender rill
Of human sense doth overfill.
ESSAY XII _Art_
Because the soul is progressive, it never quite repeats itself, but in every act attempts the production of a new and fairer whole. This appears in works both of the useful and the fine arts, if we employ the popular distinction of works according to their aim, either at use or beauty. Thus in our fine arts, not imitation, but creation is the aim. In landscapes, the painter should give the suggestion of a fairer creation than we know. The details, the prose of nature he should omit, and give us only the spirit and splendor. He should know that the landscape has beauty for his eye, because it expresses a thought which is to him good: and this, because the same power which sees through his eyes, is seen in that spectacle; and he will come to value the expression of nature, and not nature itself, and so exalt in his copy, the features that please him. He will give the gloom of gloom, and the sunshine of sunshine. In a portrait, he must inscribe the character, and not the features, and must esteem the man who sits to him as himself only an imperfect picture or likeness of the aspiring original within.
What is that abridgment and selection we observe in all spiritual activity, but itself the creative impulse? for it is the inlet of that higher illumination which teaches to convey a larger sense by simpler symbols. What is a man but nature's finer success in self-explication? What is a man but a finer and compacter landscape than the horizon figures, — nature's eclecticism? and what is his speech, his love of painting, love of nature, but a still finer success? all the weary miles and tons of space and bulk left out, and the spirit or moral of it contracted into a musical word, or the most cunning stroke of the pencil?
But the artist must employ the symbols in use in his day and nation, to convey his enlarged sense to his fellow-men. Thus the new in art is always formed out of the old. The Genius of the Hour sets his ineffaceable seal on the work, and gives it an inexpressible charm for the imagination. As far as the spiritual character of the period overpowers the artist, and finds expression in his work, so far it will retain a certain grandeur, and will represent to future beholders the Unknown, the Inevitable, the Divine. No man can quite exclude this element of Necessity from his labor. No man can quite emancipate himself from his age and country, or produce a model in which the education, the religion, the politics, usages, and arts, of his times shall have no share. Though he were never so original, never so wilful and fantastic, he cannot wipe out of his work every trace of the thoughts amidst which it grew. The very avoidance betrays the usage he avoids. Above his will, and out of his sight, he is necessitated, by the air he breathes, and the idea on which he and his contemporaries live and toil, to share the manner of his times, without knowing what that manner is. Now that which is inevitable in the work has a higher charm than individual talent can ever give, inasmuch as the artist's pen or chisel seems to have been held and guided by a gigantic hand to inscribe a line in the history of the human race. This circumstance gives a value to the Egyptian hieroglyphics, to the Indian, Chinese, and Mexican idols, however gross and shapeless. They denote the height of the human soul in that hour, and were not fantastic, but sprung from a necessity as deep as the world. Shall I now add, that the whole extant product of the plastic arts has herein its highest value, _as history_; as a stroke drawn in the portrait of that fate, perfect and beautiful, according to whose ordinations all beings advance to their beatitude?
Thus, historically viewed, it has been the office of art to educate the perception of beauty. We are immersed in beauty, but our eyes have no clear vision. It needs, by the exhibition of single traits, to assist and lead the dormant taste. We carve and paint, or we behold what is carved and painted, as students of the mystery of Form. The virtue of art lies in detachment, in sequestering one object from the embarrassing variety. Until one thing comes out from the connection of things, there can be enjoyment, contemplation, but no thought. Our happiness and unhappiness are unproductive. The infant lies in a pleasing trance, but his individual character and his practical power depend on his daily progress in the separation of things, and dealing with one at a time. Love and all the passions concentrate all existence around a single form. It is the habit of certain minds to give an all-excluding fulness to the object, the thought, the word, they alight upon, and to make that for the time the deputy of the world. These are the artists, the orators, the leaders of society. The power to detach, and to magnify by detaching, is the essence of rhetoric in the hands of the orator and the poet. This rhetoric, or power to fix the momentary eminency of an object, — so remarkable in Burke, in Byron, in Carlyle, — the painter and sculptor exhibit in color and in stone. The power depends on the depth of the artist's insight of that object he contemplates. For every object has its roots in central nature, and may of course be so exhibited to us as to represent the world. Therefore, each work of genius is the tyrant of the hour, and concentrates attention on itself. For the time, it is the only thing worth naming to do that, — be it a sonnet, an opera, a landscape, a statue, an oration, the plan of a temple, of a campaign, or of a voyage of discovery. Presently we pass to some other object, which rounds itself into a whole, as did the first; for example, a well-laid garden: and nothing seems worth doing but the laying out of gardens. I should think fire the best thing in the world, if I were not acquainted with air, and water, and earth. For it is the right and property of all natural objects, of all genuine talents, of all native properties whatsoever, to be for their moment the top of the world. A squirrel leaping from bough to bough, and making the wood but one wide tree for his pleasure, fills the eye not less than a lion, — is beautiful, self-sufficing, and stands then and there for nature. A good ballad draws my ear and heart whilst I listen, as much as an epic has done before. A dog, drawn by a master, or a litter of pigs, satisfies, and is a reality not less than the frescoes of Angelo. From this succession of excellent objects, we learn at last the immensity of the world, the opulence of human nature, which can run out to infinitude in any direction. But I also learn that what astonished and fascinated me in the first work astonished me in the second work also; that excellence of all things is one.
The office of painting and sculpture seems to be merely initial. The best pictures can easily tell us their last secret. The best pictures are rude draughts of a few of the miraculous dots and lines and dyes which make up the ever-changing "landscape with figures" amidst which we dwell. Painting seems to be to the eye what dancing is to the limbs. When that has educated the frame to self-possession, to nimbleness, to grace, the steps of the dancing-master are better forgotten; so painting teaches me the splendor of color and the expression of form, and, as I see many pictures and higher genius in the art, I see the boundless opulence of the pencil, the indifferency in which the artist stands free to choose out of the possible forms. If he can draw every thing, why draw any thing? and then is my eye opened to the eternal picture which nature paints in the street with moving men and children, beggars, and fine ladies, draped in red, and green, and blue, and gray; long-haired, grizzled, white-faced, black-faced, wrinkled, giant, dwarf, expanded, elfish, — capped and based by heaven, earth, and sea.
A gallery of sculpture teaches more austerely the same lesson. As picture teaches the coloring, so sculpture the anatomy of form. When I have seen fine statues, and afterwards enter a public assembly, I understand well what he meant who said, "When I have been reading Homer, all men look like giants." I too see that painting and sculpture are gymnastics of the eye, its training to the niceties and curiosities of its function. There is no statue like this living man, with his infinite advantage over all ideal sculpture, of perpetual variety. What a gallery of art have I here! No mannerist made these varied groups and diverse original single figures. Here is the artist himself improvising, grim and glad, at his block. Now one thought strikes him, now another, and with each moment he alters the whole air, attitude, and expression of his clay. Away with your nonsense of oil and easels, of marble and chisels: except to open your eyes to the masteries of eternal art, they are hypocritical rubbish.
The reference of all production at last to an aboriginal Power explains the traits common to all works of the highest art, — that they are universally intelligible; that they restore to us the simplest states of mind; and are religious. Since what skill is therein shown is the reappearance of the original soul, a jet of pure light, it should produce a similar impression to that made by natural objects. In happy hours, nature appears to us one with art; art perfected, — the work of genius. And the individual, in whom simple tastes and susceptibility to all the great human influences overpower the accidents of a local and special culture, is the best critic of art. Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not. The best of beauty is a finer charm than skill in surfaces, in outlines, or rules of art can ever teach, namely, a radiation from the work of art of human character, — a wonderful expression through stone, or canvas, or musical sound, of the deepest and simplest attributes of our nature, and therefore most intelligible at last to those souls which have these attributes. In the sculptures of the Greeks, in the masonry of the Romans, and in the pictures of the Tuscan and Venetian masters, the highest charm is the universal language they speak. A confession of moral nature, of purity, love, and hope, breathes from them all. That which we carry to them, the same we bring back more fairly illustrated in the memory. The traveller who visits the Vatican, and passes from chamber to chamber through galleries of statues, vases, sarcophagi, and candelabra, through all forms of beauty, cut in the richest materials, is in danger of forgetting the simplicity of the principles out of which they all sprung, and that they had their origin from thoughts and laws in his own breast. He studies the technical rules on these wonderful remains, but forgets that these works were not always thus constellated; that they are the contributions of many ages and many countries; that each came out of the solitary workshop of one artist, who toiled perhaps in ignorance of the existence of other sculpture, created his work without other model, save life, household life, and the sweet and smart of personal relations, of beating hearts, and meeting eyes, of poverty, and necessity, and hope, and fear. These were his inspirations, and these are the effects he carries home to your heart and mind. In proportion to his force, the artist will find in his work an outlet for his proper character. He must not be in any manner pinched or hindered by his material, but through his necessity of imparting himself the adamant will be wax in his hands, and will allow an adequate communication of himself, in his full stature and proportion. He need not cumber himself with a conventional nature and culture, nor ask what is the mode in Rome or in Paris, but that house, and weather, and manner of living which poverty and the fate of birth have made at once so odious and so dear, in the gray, unpainted wood cabin, on the corner of a New Hampshire farm, or in the log-hut of the backwoods, or in the narrow lodging where he has endured the constraints and seeming of a city poverty, will serve as well as any other condition as the symbol of a thought which pours itself indifferently through all.
I remember, when in my younger days I had heard of the wonders of Italian painting, I fancied the great pictures would be great strangers; some surprising combination of color and form; a foreign wonder, barbaric pearl and gold, like the spontoons and standards of the militia, which play such pranks in the eyes and imaginations of school-boys. I was to see and acquire I knew not what. When I came at last to Rome, and saw with eyes the pictures, I found that genius left to novices the gay and fantastic and ostentatious, and itself pierced directly to the simple and true; that it was familiar and sincere; that it was the old, eternal fact I had met already in so many forms, — unto which I lived; that it was the plain _you and me_ I knew so well, — had left at home in so many conversations. I had the same experience already in a church at Naples. There I saw that nothing was changed with me but the place, and said to myself, — 'Thou foolish child, hast thou come out hither, over four thousand miles of salt water, to find that which was perfect to thee there at home?' — that fact I saw again in the Academmia at Naples, in the chambers of sculpture, and yet again when I came to Rome, and to the paintings of Raphael, Angelo, Sacchi, Titian, and Leonardo da Vinci. "What, old mole! workest thou in the earth so fast?" It had travelled by my side: that which I fancied I had left in Boston was here in the Vatican, and again at Milan, and at Paris, and made all travelling ridiculous as a treadmill. I now require this of all pictures, that they domesticate me, not that they dazzle me. Pictures must not be too picturesque. Nothing astonishes men so much as common-sense and plain dealing. All great actions have been simple, and all great pictures are.
The Transfiguration, by Raphael, is an eminent example of this peculiar merit. A calm, benignant beauty shines over all this picture, and goes directly to the heart. It seems almost to call you by name. The sweet and sublime face of Jesus is beyond praise, yet how it disappoints all florid expectations! This familiar, simple, home-speaking countenance is as if one should meet a friend. The knowledge of picture-dealers has its value, but listen not to their criticism when your heart is touched by genius. It was not painted for them, it was painted for you; for such as had eyes capable of being touched by simplicity and lofty emotions.
Yet when we have said all our fine things about the arts, we must end with a frank confession, that the arts, as we know them, are but initial. Our best praise is given to what they aimed and promised, not to the actual result. He has conceived meanly of the resources of man, who believes that the best age of production is past. The real value of the Iliad, or the Transfiguration, is as signs of power; billows or ripples they are of the stream of tendency; tokens of the everlasting effort to produce, which even in its worst estate the soul betrays. Art has not yet come to its maturity, if it do not put itself abreast with the most potent influences of the world, if it is not practical and moral, if it do not stand in connection with the conscience, if it do not make the poor and uncultivated feel that it addresses them with a voice of lofty cheer. There is higher work for Art than the arts. They are abortive births of an imperfect or vitiated instinct. Art is the need to create; but in its essence, immense and universal, it is impatient of working with lame or tied hands, and of making cripples and monsters, such as all pictures and statues are. Nothing less than the creation of man and nature is its end. A man should find in it an outlet for his whole energy. He may paint and carve only as long as he can do that. Art should exhilarate, and throw down the walls of circumstance on every side, awakening in the beholder the same sense of universal relation and power which the work evinced in the artist, and its highest effect is to make new artists.
Already History is old enough to witness the old age and disappearance of particular arts. The art of sculpture is long ago perished to any real effect. It was originally a useful art, a mode of writing, a savage's record of gratitude or devotion, and among a people possessed of a wonderful perception of form this childish carving was refined to the utmost splendor of effect. But it is the game of a rude and youthful people, and not the manly labor of a wise and spiritual nation. Under an oak-tree loaded with leaves and nuts, under a sky full of eternal eyes, I stand in a thoroughfare; but in the works of our plastic arts, and especially of sculpture, creation is driven into a corner. I cannot hide from myself that there is a certain appearance of paltriness, as of toys, and the trumpery of a theatre, in sculpture. Nature transcends all our moods of thought, and its secret we do not yet find. But the gallery stands at the mercy of our moods, and there is a moment when it becomes frivolous. I do not wonder that Newton, with an attention habitually engaged on the paths of planets and suns, should have wondered what the Earl of Pembroke found to admire in "stone dolls." Sculpture may serve to teach the pupil how deep is the secret of form, how purely the spirit can translate its meanings into that eloquent dialect. But the statue will look cold and false before that new activity which needs to roll through all things, and is impatient of counterfeits, and things not alive. Picture and sculpture are the celebrations and festivities of form. But true art is never fixed, but always flowing. The sweetest music is not in the oratorio, but in the human voice when it speaks from its instant life tones of tenderness, truth, or courage. The oratorio has already lost its relation to the morning, to the sun, and the earth, but that persuading voice is in tune with these. All works of art should not be detached, but extempore performances. A great man is a new statue in every attitude and action. A beautiful woman is a picture which drives all beholders nobly mad. Life may be lyric or epic, as well as a poem or a romance.
A true announcement of the law of creation, if a man were found worthy to declare it, would carry art up into the kingdom of nature, and destroy its separate and contrasted existence. The fountains of invention and beauty in modern society are all but dried up. A popular novel, a theatre, or a ball-room makes us feel that we are all paupers in the alms-house of this world, without dignity, without skill, or industry. Art is as poor and low. The old tragic Necessity, which lowers on the brows even of the Venuses and the Cupids of the antique, and furnishes the sole apology for the intrusion of such anomalous figures into nature, — namely, that they were inevitable; that the artist was drunk with a passion for form which he could not resist, and which vented itself in these fine extravagances, — no longer dignifies the chisel or the pencil. But the artist and the connoisseur now seek in art the exhibition of their talent, or an asylum from the evils of life. Men are not well pleased with the figure they make in their own imaginations, and they flee to art, and convey their better sense in an oratorio, a statue, or a picture. Art makes the same effort which a sensual prosperity makes; namely, to detach the beautiful from the useful, to do up the work as unavoidable, and, hating it, pass on to enjoyment. These solaces and compensations, this division of beauty from use, the laws of nature do not permit. As soon as beauty is sought, not from religion and love, but for pleasure, it degrades the seeker. High beauty is no longer attainable by him in canvas or in stone, in sound, or in lyrical construction; an effeminate, prudent, sickly beauty, which is not beauty, is all that can be formed; for the hand can never execute any thing higher than the character can inspire.
The art that thus separates is itself first separated. Art must not be a superficial talent, but must begin farther back in man. Now men do not see nature to be beautiful, and they go to make a statue which shall be. They abhor men as tasteless, dull, and inconvertible, and console themselves with color-bags, and blocks of marble. They reject life as prosaic, and create a death which they call poetic. They despatch the day's weary chores, and fly to voluptuous reveries. They eat and drink, that they may afterwards execute the ideal. Thus is art vilified; the name conveys to the mind its secondary and bad senses; it stands in the imagination as somewhat contrary to nature, and struck with death from the first. Would it not be better to begin higher up, — to serve the ideal before they eat and drink; to serve the ideal in eating and drinking, in drawing the breath, and in the functions of life? Beauty must come back to the useful arts, and the distinction between the fine and the useful arts be forgotten. If history were truly told, if life were nobly spent, it would be no longer easy or possible to distinguish the one from the other. In nature, all is useful, all is beautiful. It is therefore beautiful, because it is alive, moving, reproductive; it is therefore useful, because it is symmetrical and fair. Beauty will not come at the call of a legislature, nor will it repeat in England or America its history in Greece. It will come, as always, unannounced, and spring up between the feet of brave and earnest men. It is in vain that we look for genius to reiterate its miracles in the old arts; it is its instinct to find beauty and holiness in new and necessary facts, in the field and road-side, in the shop and mill. Proceeding from a religious heart it will raise to a divine use the railroad, the insurance office, the joint-stock company, our law, our primary assemblies, our commerce, the galvanic battery, the electric jar, the prism, and the chemist's retort, in which we seek now only an economical use. Is not the selfish and even cruel aspect which belongs to our great mechanical works, — to mills, railways, and machinery, — the effect of the mercenary impulses which these works obey? When its errands are noble and adequate, a steamboat bridging the Atlantic between Old and New England, and arriving at its ports with the punctuality of a planet, is a step of man into harmony with nature. The boat at St. Petersburgh, which plies along the Lena by magnetism, needs little to make it sublime. When science is learned in love, and its powers are wielded by love, they will appear the supplements and continuations of the material creation.

4 comments:

Jackie McConnell said...

Emerson’s approach to art is both florid and exquisite. His writing style itself could be looked at as a work of art. This goes to show that, overall, Emerson’s opinion of art is held quite high. He likes it. He has respect for it. He also demands that art follow a strict guideline of what it is. All throughout the essay, he covers multiple types of art, and how simply wonderful each one is.

Before Emerson ever mentions art, though, he talks about creativity. He says that a person’s soul is always at work, progressing in both the useful and the fine arts. The soul never repeats itself exactly, but instead tries to produce something of a new and fairer quality. In that sense, he gives an example of what a painter should do. “In landscapes, the painter should give the suggestion of a fairer creation than we know.”

Basically, that’s saying that all art holds a higher potential that the artist needs to bring out. It’s the method through which that “higher illumination” teaches to convey a larger sense by simpler symbols. Emerson makes art out to be a very spiritual outlet. That’s not to just say that it’s a religious channel, though. Emerson describes man as nature’s finest art—it’s eclecticism.

According to Emerson, the artist has a huge duty to get this entire message across to the general public. The artist must “employ the symbols to convey his enlarged sense to his fellow-man.” Because of this, new art is always formed out of the old. Along with this comes a hint of the religious side of the “spiritual outlet”. Emerson says that as long as the spiritual power of the period is conveyed through the artist, and finds expression in his work, it will represent to future beholders the Unknown, the Inevitable, the Divine.

That said, the artist will always show something of the times through his work, be it political dealings, or religious. No matter how hard the artist tries, he won’t escape this. Emerson puts a lighter spin on this by claiming “That which is inevitable in the work has a higher charm than individual talent can provide.” He proceeds to list the Egyptian hieroglyphics, and the Indian, Chinese and Mexican idols as examples.

Taking this into account, art needs to educate the perception of beauty. It needs to exhibit and lead the dormant taste of society. The virtue of art lies in the detachment and sequestering of one object from the dull masses that society produces. An artist needs to claim one single thing from everything and show it to its extent.

From that point, Emerson finally jumps into talking about individual art mediums. He starts off talking about painting. Making a brilliant comparison to dancing, he says “Painting seems to be to the eye what dancing is to the limbs. When that has educated the frame to self-possession, to nimbleness, to grace, the steps of the dancing-master are better forgotten; so painting teaches me the splendor of colour and the expression of form, and, as I see many pictures and high genius in the art, I see the boundless opulence of the pencil, the indifferency in which the artist stands free to choose out of the possible forms.”

Basically saying, paintings are made up of the ever-changing “landscape with figures” that we live in. We always see it changing, much like a dance would. If the artist can draw anything, why draw at all? It’s then that a person’s eye can be opened to the eternal picture nature paints. All the people in the street, “the moving men and children, beggars, and fine ladies, draped in red, and green, and blue, and gray; long-haired, grizzled, white-faced, black-faced, wrinkled, giant, dwarf, expanded, elfish, —capped and based by heaven, earth, and sea.”

Following painting is sculptures. Emerson says that, like paintings, sculptures teach the same lesson; just in a tougher way. Putting the two together though, he says “As picture teaches the colouring, so sculpture the anatomy of form.” He can easily compare a person and a statue and see what the artist was getting at when he began. Emerson also draws back to how people are nature’s greatest art. “There is no statue like this living man, with his infinite advantage over all ideal sculpture, of perpetual variety.” Emerson likes to view the world as an art gallery, saying that no mannerist made these “varied groups and diverse original single figures.” Each moment passing changes the air, attitude and expression of the “clay” or “easel”.

When it comes down to agreeing with Emerson, I can only go so far. I wholeheartedly agree with him on his whole perspective of art. It’s so easy to see why he calls people nature’s greatest art. It’s also easy to see where he gets all these ideas. People gain inspiration from people; it’s as simple as that. There hasn’t been a single thing in all this world that was created without the aid of something else; something of nature.

Blake Tendick said...

Blake Tendick
p.2
Emerson Essay
Art and Beauty

Throughout Emerson's essay he explains how art is related in life. Emerson says “He should know that the landscape has beauty for his eye, because it expresses a thought which is to him good and this, because the same power which sees through his eyes, is seen in that spectacle; and he will come to value the expression of nature, and not nature itself, and so exalt in his copy, the features that please him”. Emerson is trying to say that the man is seeing the beauty of nature. In this case he is seeing the landscape. The man will later realize the value of his sight of beauty. He then says that we need to appreciate the this expression which pleases this man. I agree with this one hundred percent.
In section three Emerson says “But the artist must employ the symbols in use in his day and nation, to convey his enlarged sense to his fellow-men. Thus the new in art is always formed out of the old.” This one is kinda tuff  but, I believe Emerson is trying to say that the artist must show what he is tying to portray to others. Also, each day that he makes new art it comes out of his old art. I also agree because he need to show others what he sees in the beauty of art.
Emerson states that it is “the office of art to educate the perception of beauty.” He also says that we don’t see clearly form the beginning but, it needs a little training.
Later it talks about detachment. You need to embrace variety. “Until one thing comes out from the connection of things, there can be enjoyment, contemplation, but no thought. Our happiness and unhappiness are unproductive. The infant lies in a pleasing trance, but his individual character and his practical power depend on his daily progress in the separation of things, and dealing with one at a  time.” Basically Emerson is trying to tell us that we start out to be in infant and we are told what to do. We only have a basic thought process and we do what we are told. As we get older we become an individual and are going to have to deal with it. This is again another great point. Many people don’t realize this.
“The office of painting and sculpture seems to be merely initial. The best pictures can easily tell us their last secret.” What's so cool about this point is that pictures can tell us a story with many hidden secrets. A lot of time we don't see them. Maybe its due to the artist or the viewer. That's what you will have to decide.
“Painting seems to be to the eye what dancing is to the limbs.” Painting is the action of what the eye sees. Dancing is the action of what the limbs feel to do. Emerson then talks about how people can draw many things. He questions himself asking: “If he can draw everything, why draw any thing?” He then realizes that it also has to do with the color that artist puts on the object. Following this paragraph he then relates it with sculpting.  “As picture teaches the coloring, so sculpture the anatomy of form.
What I find meaningful is when Emerson says “Away with your nonsense of oil and easels, of marble and chisels: exept to open your eyes to the masteries of eternal art, they are hypocritical rubbish. He is saying to do away with all of these passions and they are hypocritical rubbish. He then corrects himself and says only to do this to open your eyes to the greatness of eternal art.
Overall Emerson is trying to convey to the reader that Art cant be superficial talent. It has to be a passion that was born into your soul. He is also saying that now days the people do not see nature as beautiful but they go and make a statue of what it should be. They “are tasteless, dull, and inconvertible..”
What is so true about this essay is men are like this. I think though Emerson is a little biased toward men because he doesn’t mention women throughout this section of art. He specifically directed it towards women.
Emerson relates art to nature most of the time. The beauty of nature is what most people paint or sculpt in art.
This sums up all of Emerson's talk on art:”Because the soul is progressive, it never quite repeats itself, but in every act attempts the production of a new and fairer whole. This appears in works both of the useful and the fine arts, if we employ the popular distinction of works according to their aim, either at use or beauty.

Blake Tendick said...

Jackie Mcconnell, Brilliant!! So much better than mine. haha

Karis Davie said...

"On the city's paved street Plant gardens lined with lilac sweet; Let spouting fountains cool the air, Singing in the sun-baked square; Let statue, picture, park, and hall, Ballad, flag, and festival, The past restore, the day adorn, And make each morrow a new morn." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

In the passage above, you can almost smell the lilacs, feel the warmth of the sun and hear the water of the fountains. This is how Emerson thought art should be. An "Expression of nature, not just nature itself". He wanted the reader to feel as if they were there in the moment the artist was trying to imitate. Emerson didn't just want an artist to paint what they see, he wanted them to paint a more beautiful picture than before. " Art should exhilarate, and throw down the walls of circumstance on every side, awakening in the beholder the same since of universal relation and power which the work evinced in the artist, and its highest effect is to make new artists." Doing so, there is no imitation because all art is improved from the last.
Emerson thought of nature to be perfected art, so since nature is beautiful, art should be made from it. Nature is always changing, so are the options of what to draw. Even if there are mechanical and modern things in the nature, Emerson was fine with that. To him, those modern and mechanical things could be beautiful and art itself. If a person wanted to draw a landscape, Emerson didn't just want people to draw just a landscape. He wanted them to put emotion into it so the viewer could feel what they were feeling. If people can connect what they are seeing, it will make an impression on them and it will be remembered. People will also be able to appreciate it more because they relate to it. That drawing could be an inspiration for that person to make a more beautiful drawing of there own. This pattern continues all the time because everyone has to get inspiration from somewhere even if it is the same influence as many others.
Paint for yourself and not for others. Emotion will show if the art means something to the artist. If a true artist draws a tree, they are not just drawing the branches and leaves. They put in the weather on the tree, the age of the tree, and all the details of it. If the tree is old and withering, the artist could relate it to an old dying person. Then viewers could relate the tree to somebody they know and it would mean a lot more to them.
A person could be inspired by art a hundred years old. Art shouldn't be copied, so the picture could be made more beautiful by adding there own touch and modern influences to it. This is why Emerson said that new art is formed out of the old. Art keeps circulating and improving from the last so all art is connected in some way. With all the different styles of art, there will be a mark in history for the future to improve upon on that.
Art can never be completely finished. Another artist will be able to add upon it. Emerson stated " Our best praise is given to what they aimed and promised, not the actual result". He thought that if the artist tried and had a good idea, that was fine because sometime in the future another artist could finish and improve what was started. Even if an artist has a really good idea they shouldn't put in less effort just to finish, they should just do what they can. They shouldn't try to make there art really good if it isn't.
"True art is never fixed, but always flowing" Emerson believed this since nature is always moving and changing, art should also. Art should seem almost different each time you look at it. Emerson did not like sculptures. He thought they were dull and gray. "Now men do not see nature to be beautiful, and they go to make a statue which shall be marble. they reject life as prosaic, and create a death which they call poetic". Anything like a statue isn't art.
Emerson believed that the point of art shouldn't be just to gain something. The point should be to be something beautiful. Art must not be a superficial talent because it would then be to please others and then wouldn't mean much to the artist.
To conclude, art should be beautiful and mean something to the artist. There are no imitations just improvements upon the old. An artist should paint not for others but for themselves. Since modern influences are all around use them, then art will be different from the old. Art should be a more beautiful and expressive picture of nature, because nature is already beautiful. Last, try to make your art eternal so just by looking at the art, people can connect with it and remember it, instead of just walking by. Although Emerson had lots of rules and guidelines, there is still so much room for the artist to be free and do pretty much whatever they like.