- 更新于：2020-04-29 11:17:24
to create the greatest of stories; and the child who enjoys whittling a block of wood has in him the capacity to appreciate and perhaps to create the greatest art!
The Questioner. Then you do not think children can be taught to appreciate art by looking at photographic reproductions of it?
The Artist. I would hardly expect a Fiji Islander to become an appreciator of civilized[Pg 110] music by letting him look at my phonograph records. The dingy-brownish photograph of a gloriously colored painting has even less educational value—for it lies about the original. Do you know that there are thousands and thousands of American school children who think that the great masterpieces of the world’s painting are the color of axle-grease? They are never told that their own free efforts with colored crayons are more like Botticelli in every sense than any photograph could possibly be; but it is true.
The Questioner. But don’t you want them to respect Botticelli?
The Artist. No. I want them to look at Botticelli’s pictures as they look at those of another child—free to criticize, free to dislike, free to scorn. For only when you are free to despise, are you free to admire. After all, who was Botticelli? Another child. Perhaps they may prefer Goya—
The Questioner. Or the Sunday comic supplement!
The Artist. A healthy taste. And if they know what drawing is, though having used a pencil themselves, they will prefer the better comic pictures to the worse, and be ready to appreciate Goya and Daumier—who were the[Pg 111] super-Sunday-supplement comic artists of their day.
The Questioner. Left to themselves they may come to like Goya, as you say; but will they ever come to appreciate such a masterpiece as Leonardo’s Last Supper without some more formal teaching?
The Artist. Do you call it “teaching” to talk solemnly to children in language they cannot understand? If they are making pictures themselves, and being assisted in their enthusiastic experiments by a real artist instead of a teacher, they will naturally wonder why their friend should have the photograph of the Last Supper in the portfolio from which he is always taking out some picture in order to illustrate his answers to their questions. And having wondered, they will ask why, and their friend will tell them; and perhaps they will get some of their friends enthusiasm, and perhaps not. But they will know that the real human being who is like themselves does like that picture.
The Questioner. But it makes no difference whether they like it or not?
The Artist. You can’t compel them to like it, can you? You can only compel them to pretend that they do.
[Pg 112]The Questioner. Can’t you teach them what is called “good taste”?
The Artist. Only too easily. And their “good taste” will lead them infallibly to prefer the imitations of what they have been taught to praise, and quite as infallibly to reject the great new art of their generation. They will think some new Whistler a pot of paint flung in the public’s face, and the next Cezanne a dauber.
The Questioner. Then you don’t approve of good taste!
The Artist. Every artist despises it, and the people who have it. We know quite well that the people who pretend to like Titian and Turner, because they have been carefully taught that it is the thing to do, would have turned up their noses at Titian and Turner in their own day—because they were not on the list of dead artists whom it was the fashion to call great; they know moreover that these same people of good taste are generally incapable of distinguishing between a beautiful and an ugly wall-paper, between a beautiful and an ugly plate, or even between a beautiful and an ugly necktie! Outside the bounds of their memorized list, they have no taste whatever.
[Pg 113]The Questioner. Cannot good taste be taught so as to include the whole of life?
The Artist. It would take too much time. And thank God for that! For good taste is simply a polite pretense by which we cover up our lack of that real sense of beauty which comes only from intimate acquaintance with creative processes. The most cultivated people in the world cannot produce beauty by merely having notions about it. But the most uncultivated people in the world cannot help producing beauty if only they have time to dream as they work—if only they have freedom to let their work become something besides utilitarian.
The Questioner. You think, then, that education should not concern itself with good taste, but rather with creative effort?
The Artist. Exactly.
The Questioner. You say that children are artists already?
The Artist. And that artists are children.