Great art comes from passion, from a need to expose human spirit in the face of mortality, the small cruelties and heroisms that make up daily life -- that's where great work comes from, and if you enable students in this way to discover those impulses and observations in themselves, those heroisms and cruelties in themselves, you create an atmosphere in which art can emerge.
The great city seemed to weigh upon me, as though it were crushing me under its heap of brick and stone. Gray, drizzly skies, congested streets, the soot-belching boats and barges chugging up and down the Thames, the teeming mass of four millions hastening about the countless activities of daily life in a metropolis, things adventurous, meaningful, spiritual, quotidian, futile, criminal, meaningless and absurd. Amidst this seething stew of humanity, I painted.
If there’s a thing, a scene, maybe, an image that you want to see real bad, that you need to see but it doesn’t exist in the world around you, at least not in the form that you envision, then you create it so that you can look at it and have it around, or show it to other people who wouldn’t have imagined it because they perceive reality in a more narrow, predictable way. And that’s it. That’s all an artist does.
La emoción trágica, efectivamente, es una cara que mira en dos direcciones: hacia el terror y hacia la piedad, y ambos son fases de ella. Habrás visto que uso la palabra paraliza. Quiero decir que la emoción trágica es estática. O más bien que la emoción dramática lo es. Los sentimientos excitados por un arte impuro son cinéticos, deseo y repulsión. El deseo nos incita a la posesión, a movernos hacia algo; la repulsión nos incita al abandono, a apartarnos de algo. Las artes que sugieren estos sentimientos, pornográficas o didácticas, no son, por tanto, artes puras. La emoción estética es por consiguiente estática. El espíritu queda paralizado por encima de todo deseo, de toda repulsión.
Ruskin says that anyone who expects perfection from a work of art knows nothing of works of art. This is an appealing sentence that, so far as I can see, is not true about a few pictures and statues and pieces of music, short stories and short poems. Whether or not you expect perfection from them, you get it; at least, there is nothing in them that you would want changed. But what Ruskin says is true about novels: anyone who expects perfection from even the greatest novel knows nothing of novels.
Yet entertainment--as I define it, pleasure and all--remains the only sure means we have of bridging, or at least of feeling as if we have bridged, the gulf of consciousness that separates each of us from everybody else. The best response to those who would cheapen and exploit it is not to disparage or repudiate but to reclaim entertainment as a job fit for artists and for audiences, a two-way exchange of attention, experience, and the universal hunger for connection.
A written word is the choicest of relics. It is something at once more intimate with us and more universal than any other work of art. It is the work of art nearest to life itself. It may be translated into every language, and not only be read but actually breathed from all human lips; -- not be represented on canvas or in marble only, but be carved out of the breath of life itself.