oranje - recent posts from my current home

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Whistler's Ten O'Clock Lecture

I was poking around in Artblog this morning. Great thing to do while having coffee early on a Saturday morning. There was a reference to this lecture by Whistler.

About art...
She is withal selfishly occupied with her own perfection only – having no desire to teach – seeking and finding the beautiful in all conditions, and in all times – As did her high priest Rembrandt, when he saw picturesque grandeur and noble dignity in the Jews' quarter of Amsterdam – and lamented not that its inhabitants were not Greeks. –
This particular quote interests me because of the comment about art having no desire to teach. I think he was referring to the allegorical art of his time, but this comment is as applicable today.

About art product....
The taste of the tradesman, supplanted the science of the artist – and what was born of the million, went back to them – and charmed them – for it was after their own heart – and the great and the small, the statesman and the slave, took to themselves the abomination that was tendered, and preferred it, and have lived with it ever since –

And the Artists occupation was gone – and the manufacurer and the huckster took his place –
Here, Whistler seems to be decrying the trends of the art market, where some become art stars by virtue of imitation. Actually, the bulk of the lecture from this point forward seems to be centered on this theme. Further along, he says:

Vulgarity – under whose facinating influence ‘the many’ have elbowed ‘the few’ – and the gentle circle of Art swarms with the intoxicated mob of mediocrity, whose leaders prate and council, and call aloud, where the Gods once spoke in whisper! –

A very interesting and pertinent lecture. It seems that things haven't changed much in the last 125 years.

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