Studio: international art — 88.1924

Page: 300
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THE LAY FIGURE: ON DOING
THINGS PROPERLY.

" I wonder why it is," said the Critic,
" that present-day painters pay so little
attention to qualities of handling i Surely
craftsmanship does count as important in
the making of any work of art." 0

" Of course it does; everything is
important that makes a work of art more
complete," declared the Old Artist. " And
sound craftsmanship is one of the first
essentials in all artistic production. With-
out it the artist is incapable of expression."

" Well, he would certainly find it
difficult to express himself convincingly,"
the Critic agreed. " He must have a
reasonable command of technicalities to
be effective, because by the technical pro-
cesses of painting he conveys to others
the ideas that are in his mind. But I
think that to apply these processes with
some degree of grace and charm is also
part of his job." 0000

" There I am with you entirely," cried
the Old Artist with much enthusiasm.
" In my young days we were taught to
regard beauty of brushwork as a thing
to strive for in our work. We had to
get quality into the paint surface, and
we had to make the handling of our
medium attractive. A picture had to be
a perfect piece of skilful craftsmanship
as well as an adequate rendering of its
subject." 0 0 0 0 0

" In your young days you were taught
to waste your time over a lot of mechanical
tricks that were too silly for words,"
broke in the Young Highbrow, who could
restrain himself no longer. " No wonder
we had to take art in hand to save it from
dying of senile decay. Beautiful paint!
Oh, what utter rot! " 0 0 0

" But don't you think that paint quality
is worth considering i Don't you see
any merit in skilful handling i" asked
the Critic. a a a a a

" Good Lord, no," replied the Young
Highbrow. " The only thing that matters
in a picture is the idea it expresses. It is
an inspired creation, an emanation from
the artist's mind. Who thinks about paint
in such a connection i " 0 0 0

" Decidedly not the painter, if one can
judge from the inspired creations which

300

you youngsters have been turning out
during the last few years," said the Old
Artist, with a chuckle. " Really, I do not
think that even the most beautiful paint
could make such poison gas emanations
tolerable. But, anyhow, I am still of the
opinion that if any of you had an idea
worth putting into a picture, that picture
would be much more convincing if it
were decently passable in craftsmanship."

" My good man, don't you realise that
we are artists, not craftsmen i " sneered
the Young Highbrow. " You talk as if
we were so many factory hands, under
the orders of a foreman who tells us what
we ought to do and how to do it. We
are creators, we have each of us a mission,
and we set a high value on our indepen-
dence of obsolete conventions. You insult
our intelligence when you suggest that we
should concern ourselves with mechanism
and technical devices." 000

" At any rate, I will give you credit for
practising what you preach," retorted the
Old Artist. " You certainly do not con-
cern yourselves with technique, and you
shirk the technical devices which make
painting an art and not merely a sort of
slushy incoherence. You are perfectly
right when you say you are not craftsmen,
but your claim to be reckoned as artists
I most decidedly dispute." 000

" And I, too, question it," added the
Critic judicially, " for this reason, that
the distinction you are seeking to make
between the artist and the craftsman has
no actual existence. If a man is to
become an artist he must become, in the
branch of art he follows, an efficient
craftsman first, and by the aid of his
craftsmanship he will prove whether or
not he is an artist at all. If he is a great
artist he will be all the greater if he is a
great craftsman as well, and the finer the
technical qualities of his work the more
fully will his artistic personality be
asserted. Beautiful thoughts are best
expressed by beautiful paint." 0 0

" Those are my sentiments exactly,"
laughed the Old Artist. " I could not
have said it better myself." 0 0

" When Noah put his menagerie on
board the ark the unclean animals went
in pairs," remarked the Young Highbrow
acidly. The Lay Figure.
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