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Studio: international art — 1.1893

Seite: 50
DOI Heft: DOI Artikel: DOI Seite: Zitierlink: i
http://digi.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/diglit/studio1893/0068
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Exhibition

painting proceed in unregarded corners. " The
world," the same writer went on, "at the worst
wants ideas." Possibly; but those it wants are not
the ideas most naturally or forcibly expressed in
paint. A painter is a man who has a peculiar lust
of the eye, one so trained and sophisticated as to
be gratified within the limits of a frame and a flat
canvas. This extremely narrow interest in the
universe amuses and absorbs him intensely, but
it is a vastly awkward way of expressing his
ideas on important subjects, if such ideas he has.
It is true that if he be majestic minded he will
illustrate a solemn theme instead of a merry one,
even as a sad man will be sad in love; but on
this pretext to take round the hat as a teacher and
benefactor of his kind, would be to pass off paint-
ing as philanthropy. To be an actor is a most
roundabout way of being a missionary, and success
as a missionary is likely to mean failure or fraud
as an actor. It is part of the same misleading
view of this amusement or passion of painting, to
speak of those who have " grown grey-headed in
the service of art" as if they had thereby done
anything respectable. A man will grow grey what-
ever passion he indulges, but he serves an art only
as he serves a mistress. If the art be to the man's
taste it is worth to himself a life spent and a head
grown grey ; if he has pursued it against the grain,
he is an object of pity rather than of respect.

This private amusement, then, is one the painter
sets out to live by at obvious peril. He is to live
by an exhibition of his own pleasure, and if his
fellow-man adheres to skittles and finds in that the
satisfaction of playing a game, the glow of energy,
the charm of skill and combination that the painter
finds in his imaginative game, the painter has
nothing to complain of, any more than the tennis-
player has a right to come to him and say, I have
grown grey in the service of tennis and you have
never paid gate-money to see me play. People
have different ways of taking things, and it proves
nothing against the intelligence in life, the devo-
tion, the affection of the skittles-player that his
imagination is untouched at so very specialised an
angle of vision as the painter's. He may know
much more than the painter about the things the
painter plays with, but he cannot play with them
that particular game. Now the condition of the
candle being paid for is that the onlooker, as well
as the player, feels the glory of the game.

Applied art is of course quite a different thing
from this making of poetry into a profession.
Artists can make an honest living in various ways.
An architect builds walls to keep his patron dry,
5o

and without his patron knowing it or being in
danger of damp, he can slip in the architecture,
the musical proportion of the wall that interests
himself. So the decorative painter, employed to
cover an object with a protective coat of paint,
may, for his own satisfaction, put it on in shapes
that tickle his own fancy. So the portrait painter,
called in to take a likeness, may pay himself in
pleasure by making it a picture. In all these cases
a definite service is rendered and paid for. But
to ask to be paid for the free expression of one's
feelings and admirations, which is modern poetic
painting, looks like an unpromising if not imperti-
nent demand on the painter's part.

But that sanguine and superfluous lover of the
visible turns his eyes to the exhibitions and proposes
to set up his booth in the bazaar ; perhaps, too, a
critic comes and thumps a drum before it and
blows a trumpet, hardly appreciable in the general
uproar of the fair. For these exhibitions are
entertainments and shops with a well understood
line of business and a steady public of their own.
The artist is fortunate if he can avoid them
altogether and secure a patron or two who will
buy him secretly. It has been the fortunate case
of some notable painters of recent times. But it
is astonishing how generous the exhibitions are :
how often they will let the poet smuggle in and set
up his booth. They are of different types. There
is the close club, like the Old Water Colour Society,
which exhibits only members' work. There are
societies like the Institute and the British Artists,
which hang outsiders as well. There are com-
panies with selecting directors, like the New Gallery
and the Grafton. There are subscription clubs,
where a man pays so much rent to show his work,
and there is the New English Art Club, which has
combined this plan with the possibility of the
work not being exhibited. This has varied in con-
stitution between a frank clique and an impossible
and silly idea of universal suffrage; its present
constitution is a compromise between the two
ideas; and what with its chivalrous theories of
selection, its rapid shedding of schools and
members, and its ferment of younger artists, it
has for some years been the most open and interest-
ing of the shows, and even yet has not stiffened
into the ordinary vestry type. It will be seen that
the painter has a fair chance of being somehow
exhibited, though he fights against huge odds in
the matter of being looked at or sold.

When, with due gratitude to those various clubs
and societies that give him a precarious footing,
he considers his situation further, he naturally
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