- 更新于：2020-04-29 11:17:24
The Artist. Just what I say. The child is an artist; and the artist is always a child. The greatest periods of art have always been those in which artists had the direct, na?ve, unspoiled vision of the child. The aim of our best artists today is to recover that vision. They are trying to see the world as children see it, and to record their vision of it as a child would do. Have you[Pg 101] ever looked at children’s drawings—not the sort of things they are taught to do by mistaken and mischievous adults, but the pictures that are the natural expressions of their creative impulses? And haven’t you observed that modern paintings are coming to be more and more like such pictures?
The Questioner. Well—er, yes, I had noticed something of the kind! But is that sort of thing necessarily art? I mean—well, I don’t want to attempt to argue with you on a subject in which you are an expert, but—
The Artist. Oh, that’s all right! The modern artist is ready to discuss art with anybody—the more ignorant of the subject, the better! You see, we want art to cease to be the possession of a caste—we want it to belong to everybody. As a member of the human race, your opinions are important to us.
The Questioner. That is very kind of you. I fear it is rather in the nature of a digression, but, since I may ask without fear of seeming presumptuous,—are those horrid misshapen green nudes of Matisse, and those cubical blocks of paint by I-forget-his-name, and all that sort of thing—are they your notion of what art should be?
The Artist. Mine? Oh, not at all! They[Pg 102] are merely two out of a thousand contemporary attempts to recover the na?ve childlike vision of which I spoke. If you will compare them with a child’s drawing, or with a picture by a Navajo Indian, or with the sketch of an aurochs traced on the wall of his cave by one of our remote ancestors, you will note an essential difference. Those artists were not trying to be na?ve and childlike; they were na?ve and childlike. The chief merit of our modern efforts, in my personal opinion, is in their quality as a challenge to traditional and mistaken notions of what art should be—an advertisement, startling enough, and sometimes maliciously startling, of the artist’s belief that he has the right to be first of all an artist.
The Questioner. Now we are coming to the point. What is an artist?
The Artist. I told you, a child. And by that, I mean one who plays with his materials—not one who performs a set and perhaps useful task with them. A creator—
The Questioner. But a creator of what? Not of Beauty, by any chance?
The Artist. Incidentally of Beauty.
The Questioner. There we seem to disagree. If those horrid pictures—
[Pg 103]The Artist. Suppose you tell me what Beauty is.
The Questioner. It seems to me quite simple. Beauty is—well—a thing is either beautiful, or it isn’t. And—
The Artist. Just so; the only trouble is that so few of us are able to agree whether it is or isn’t. You yourself have doubtless changed your opinions about what is beautiful many times in the course of your career as an art-lover; and the time may come when you will cherish some horrid nude of Matisse’s as your dearest possession. Let us admit, like the wise old poet, that Beauty is not a thing which can be argued about. It can only be produced.
The Questioner. But if we don’t know what Beauty is, how can we produce it?
The Artist. I have already told you—as the incidental result of creative effort.
The Questioner. Effort to create what?
The Artist. Oh, anything.
The Questioner. Are you joking?
The Artist. I never was more serious in my life. And I should really inform you that I am merely repeating the familiar commonplaces of modern esthetics. Beauty is the incidental result of the effort to create a house, a sword,—
[Pg 104]The Questioner. Or a shoe?
The Artist. Yes. I have some peasant shoes from Russia which are very beautiful. You can see shoes which are works of art in any good museum.
The Questioner. But hardly in any boot-shop window!
The Artist. Those shoes were not created—they were done as a set task. They were not made by peasants or craftsmen for pleasure—they were made by wage-slaves who did them only because they must. Do not for a moment imagine that it is the difference in materials or shape that matters—it is the difference in the spirit with which they are made. I have seen moder