World-Famous Paintings

World-Famous Paintings

World-Famous Paintings

World-Famous Paintings

Excerpt

A master with whom I studied used to say to us: "The more fragile and delicate the subject of your picture the stronger and bolder must be your manner of painting it." The corollary of such counsel invites us to reflect that the more solemn the subject of discussion the more gayly, perhaps, must it be handled; and to suspect that life at its utmost may be just like that: all opposites. Weak men are cruel; strong men, kind. And a proverb of William Blake reminds us (as though we could ever forget it!) that "Excess of sorrow laughs. Excess of joy weeps."

Certainly Art, the subject and the matter of this volume--being of itself the enshrinement of men's most devout and reverent moods--is of an order of creation essentially solemn enough to deserve of all things just such light-hearted and gay discussion as may best dispose our minds to its full enjoyment.

Solemn? We'll say it is! Don't they house it for our enjoyment (!) in the most frigid and cheerless of marble halls, submitting us to such tortures of foot weariness as no one but a penitential pilgrim should endure? Do they not deprive us pilgrims to Art's shrines of the solace of a smoke, of the relief of speaking above a whisper, of the good cheer of a friendly bar? Don't they count us through clinking turnstiles as we go in, search us with Roentgen eyes as we go out; and watch us in between like Hoover G-men on the trail of spies? We to whom the mere aspect of a Park Avenue doorman strikes terror, in what a mood for Art--how far from carefree, happy, at our ease are we when, passing through the safedeposit portals of Art's shrines, their death-like penitentiary mood enfolds us! Stop! No more of this. Art being solemn, we'll enliven it. And art museums being in general so preposterously and insultingly uncongenial to the moods, likes, fancies, tastes of all people except Roman Emperors, let us for the moment have nothing to . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.