The standard by which we evaluate art is relative. For its creator, the work is art insofar as it embodies a perception of new harmony that is peculiarly his. In the material result of this perception, this special character is imparted to the work, and accordingly to the viewer, by the artist’s instinctive artistic selections. No two painters, though equipped with equal technical skill, similar tastes, preferences, and influences would or indeed could render the same sweep of landscape in precisely the same fashion.
To record everything is at once an impossibility, but also more importantly, an untruth, for the detail of nature is infinite and the beholder does and cannot see everything. Thus, it is for these reasons above all else that each artist produces singularly unique works as each is bound to select the details which are most readily apparent and personally important to him. These selections are determined by his unique personality, and as an individual different from every other in the world, his feelings about the bit of nature before him will be unique. In expressing this bit of nature via his particular medium, the artist aims to detach and render visible the essential truth of the landscape as he sees it. The goal is to purge it of accidents and to register, in the artist’s particular way, its eternal beauty.
The great painter then, will not attempt to reproduce the physical facts of nature — the topography, geology, or botany of the landscape — but rather through the statement of such facts in terms of color and form, he will try to render the scene’s essential expression: its quality, its brilliance, and its tenderness; its mood, as joy and mystery, setting down those salient aspects of it which combine to give it its unique character and meaning.
Landscape has its own expression as truly as the human face. A person knows his friends not by the shape of the nose or the color of her eyes, but by the character these individual features collectively express. He knows the personality which shines in the face and radiates from it. This effluence of the soul within is the essential person; people call it the “expression.” As with human life, so with the many aspects of nature, external traits are merged into a spiritual meaning.
The material forms have the power of affecting the spirit. Thus, in terms of a person’s creation of art, they come to take on a symbolic, emotional significance. Each manifestation of nature arouses in the artist some feeling toward it. He aspires to represent these external material forms, whether a flower, a landscape or a human face, only because there is in them something which delights him. He fashions the work of art in praise of the thing he loves.
To the artist “The meanest flower that blows can give thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.” What the artist aims to render is not the rose but the beauty of the rose, his sense of one chord in the universal harmony which the rose sounds for him, not only the beauty of that particular rose but the beauty of all roses that ever were or ever shall be. He will select such colors, and such lines as bring that special and interpreted beauty into relief, and so make manifest to the beholder what was revealed to his own higher vision, not because of any exceptional technical skill, but because he is an artist.
Find an error? Take a screenshot, email it to us at email@example.com, and we’ll send you $3!