The American Artist and His Times

The American Artist and His Times

The American Artist and His Times

The American Artist and His Times

Excerpt

"There is a kind of luxury in seeing, as well as there is in eating and drinking; the more we indulge, the less we are to be restrained."

John Singleton Copley

SIXTY-TWO years ago, more or less, there were wont to foregather of an evening in my father's Paris studio in the rue de Notre Dame des Champs such men as the architect Stanford White, the writer Samuel Clemens, the editor Richard Watson Gilder, and the French painter Bastien-Lepage. Invariably they hailed as their signal to go home that ponderous question, "What is art?"

Sixty years ago I grew conscious of the light of day in the Sherwood Studios on the corner of Fifty-seventh Street and Sixth Avenue. Since then, unconsciously or consciously, there have been wafted by my ears waves of art-pregnant language from the mouths of professionals, patrons and critics, caustic and effusive, serious and hilarious, drunk and sober, waves that have risen and fallen as the company has wrangled points of "composition" and "harmony," "art for art's sake," and "the story-telling picture." Styles have come and gone. Always, though, I have been assured that any immediate yesterday was artistic anathema but that all oncoming tomorrows held out the pure bright glow of the ultimate unchanging light to be forever transcendent in the future of visual aesthetics. Yet somehow, even as the prophet of yesterday fell, the Nostradamus of today falls as well. Consequently, as the years pass me by, I have bold doubts concerning the man who knows all about tomorrow.

That is why, as a man unwilling to give offense to any newly estab-

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