Saturday, September 08, 2007

The following is from Charles A. Bennett's book The Manual Arts

"…we who would appreciate art and handicraft find that it takes a lifetime to gain the mastery of even the painter’s art; and when we think of sculpture and metalwork, cabinet-making, textiles, jewelry, the building of a cathedral, a great bridge or machine, we realize how impossible it is to fully appreciate work in all these arts and crafts. With our human limitation, the span of a single life is not long enough to include so much, yet we desire the power to appreciate the good in the arts and to help others to do the same.

So we are led to try another and easier course. We throw aside the philosophy of Froebel and seek to store our minds with facts about the arts, in the hope that by this means we may reach our goal of appreciation. We search the latest books and magazines. We read what Mr. A. says of the opinion expressed by Mr. B. concerning the work of Mr. C. We find that Mr. D. does not agree with either Mr. A. or Mr. B. on several important points and we take little satisfaction in knowing their combined opinions. When we are honest with ourselves we admit that we do not appreciate the real thing they are writing about.

Like the young clerk in the draperies department of a downtown store, we can talk “arts and crafts style” or we can discuss the report of the latest exhibition and quote good authorities too, but we are conscious of the fact that this is not appreciation. We know that appreciation involves feeling and this newspaper reading has begotten no art feeling in us. We would not only know about art, but we would feel—-we would respond to the influence of the art; we would have the artist’s emotions transmitted thru us, and this we find does not come about thru the medium of words merely. We must see and touch and do; we must get our knowledge first-hand; we must learn thru experience.

In learning about the art, we have avoided the thing itself.

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