LECTURE TO ART STUDENTS
1. LECTURE TO ART STUDENTS (continued)
We never know what an artist is going to do. Of course not. The
artist is not a specialist. All such divisions as animal painters,
landscape painters, painters of Scotch cattle in an English mist,
painters of English cattle in a Scotch mist, racehorse painters,
bull-terrier painters, all are shallow. If a man is an artist he
can paint everything.
The object of art is to stir the most divine and remote of the
chords which make music in our soul; and colour is indeed, of
itself a mystical presence on things, and tone a kind of sentinel.
Am I pleading, then, for mere technique? No. As long as there are
any signs of technique at all, the picture is unfinished. What is
finish? A picture is finished when all traces of work, and of the
means employed to bring about the result, have disappeared.
In the case of handicraftsmen - the weaver, the potter, the smith -
on their work are the traces of their hand. But it is not so with
the painter; it is not so with the artist.
Art should have no sentiment about it but its beauty, no technique
except what you cannot observe. One should be able to say of a
picture not that it is 'well painted,' but that it is 'not
What is the difference between absolutely decorative art and a
painting? Decorative art emphasises its material: imaginative art
annihilates it. Tapestry shows its threads as part of its beauty:
a picture annihilates its canvas: it shows nothing of it.
Porcelain emphasises its glaze: water-colours reject the paper.
A picture has no meaning but its beauty, no message but its joy.
That is the first truth about art that you must never lose sight
of. A picture is a purely decorative thing.