LECTURE TO ART STUDENTS
1. LECTURE TO ART STUDENTS
IN the lecture which it is my privilege to deliver before you to-
night I do not desire to give you any abstract definition of beauty
at all. For we who are working in art cannot accept any theory of
beauty in exchange for beauty itself, and, so far from desiring to
isolate it in a formula appealing to the intellect, we, on the
contrary, seek to materialise it in a form that gives joy to the
soul through the senses. We want to create it, not to define it.
The definition should follow the work: the work should not adapt
itself to the definition.
Nothing, indeed, is more dangerous to the young artist than any
conception of ideal beauty: he is constantly led by it either into
weak prettiness or lifeless abstraction: whereas to touch the
ideal at all you must not strip it of vitality. You must find it
in life and re-create it in art.
While, then, on the one hand I do not desire to give you any
philosophy of beauty - for, what I want to-night is to investigate
how we can create art, not how we can talk of it - on the other
hand, I do not wish to deal with anything like a history of English
To begin with, such an expression as English art is a meaningless
expression. One might just as well talk of English mathematics.
Art is the science of beauty, and Mathematics the science of truth:
there is no national school of either. Indeed, a national school
is a provincial school, merely. Nor is there any such thing as a
school of art even. There are merely artists, that is all.