Friday, September 07, 2007

Notes from John Sloan's Gist of Art

"If you don't want to be serious about playing, do something of no account. Go into banking. Buy collar buttons at five cents a dozen and sell them for five cents a piece."
-John Sloan's Gist of Art

That may sound harsh, but I think he was getting at something similar to something Tom Peters(author of Leadership) said: "Any company that exists purely for the purpose of making money is likely to fail."

But back to John Sloan:

"A negative, anti-thing can't be great. Anti-bad art, anti-liquor for instance.The kind of art made for anti-reason, anti-war, anti-humanity, and so forth, can't be great art. It can be important propaganda, satire, but not great art."
Would that many a garage band took this to heart.

"No great poet, no great artist ever allows facts to interfere with the truth. Facts are not necessarily truth. Poetry can convey truth more than a statement of fact.The history of the Civil War has more meaning through the book, John Brown's body, then it has through the facts of history."
I think perhaps this has to do with a rationalistic, enlightenment view of history as a non-story, if we think of, and approach, history as an impersonal collection of sequential facts instead of a divinely told story then it will have a sour taste. Stories are personal, art is personal.

"Work for your self first. You can paint best the things you like or the things you hate. You cannot paint well when indifferent. Express a mental opinion about something you are sensitive to in life around you. There is a profound difference between sensitivity and sentimentality."
Indifference. I believe the world was created to demand a response, to be neutral (that quest of scientism) to the created order is to be jaded. This is why nihilist art is not often good, it's indifferent, by definition. The best scientists were never 'neutral', but awe-struck.

"Paintings must have some stimulus. Keep the mainspring of life which gives you the creative urge. Keep your humanity."
Art is about life, art is not about art. Art is about the world, not the 'art world'.

"There is such a thing as looking at nature too calmly, without any excitement." I don't know if he knew why, but I do, nature is all about the Glory of God, and the Glory of God demands a weighty excitement, a heavy awe.

"The artist must get a kick out of something in nature before he can create. If you only get kick out of other works of art you should not be an artist. You should be a connoisseur, or a buyer or a consumer of art." Might I add: Anime fanboy to the list?

All this from the first few pages!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just found this book on a free book shelf last week, and have read all the amazing thoughts you have quoted (and reread!) thanks for putting this on your blog!

1/01/2009 3:19 PM  

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