Greek Sculpture: Its Spirit and Principles

By Edmund Von Mach | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
THE ARTIST AND HIS PUBLIC

The personal influence of the Greek artists upon their communities was great, although it is not often touched upon in ancient literature. This influence was due to the fact that the artists felt themselves one with the public, and rarely, if ever, believed they were set off as a class by themselves, distinct from the laymen. Such a view, however, has often since prevailed. When Michelangelo carved the tombs of the Medicis and there gave a mystic expression to his ideas of liberty, these thoughts were to him exclusively his own, -- too high, too good to be shared by the common populace, -- and yet they were the very thoughts in the thinking of which this populace had begun to delight. When the genius of an artist is grappling with the unexpressed phantoms of new ideas, and after patient meditation realizes them on canvas or in stone to the extent of transforming the haziness of the notions into appalling clearness, he may indeed be forgiven if he takes a too exalted view of his achievements and believes that he and his fellow-artists are of nobler timbre than the general public.

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