Thursday, December 29, 2011

"We are the music makers"

Robert Beverly Hale (1901-1985), the legendary teacher at the Art Student’s League and curator of American paintings at the Metropolitan museum, reminds us that science and technique aren’t enough to equip an artist for the creative journey.

(Video LinkIn this archival video, he recites the “Ode” from Arthur O'Shaughnessy (1844–1881), making an eloquent case for the loneliness -- and loftiness -- of the artist’s life. 
Here’s the whole text:
“We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;
World-losers and world-forsakers
On whom the pale moon gleams
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

With wonderful deathless ditties
We build up the world's great cities,
And out of a fabulous story
We fashion an empire's glory
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown
And three with a new song's measure
Can trample an empire down.

We, in the ages lying
In the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
And Babel itself with our mirth;
And o'erthrew them with prophesying
To the old of the new world's worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth.


My Pen Name said...

He is from a time that produced more dignified and elegant men.

if there is one thing that is sorely lacking in education, even among artists, it's an in-depth, internalized knowledge of poetry. The renaissance masters could quote Dante at length - the pre-Raphaelites were not only influenced by Keats and shakespeare, but wrote their own.

Drawing on 'pop music' quotes is a pretty shallow well to drink out of.

I believe that Frank Porcu, the current anatomy lecturer at the league, has suggested that students read and internalize poetry.

Unknown said...

The School where I teach has a copy of his entire "Anatomy Lectures" series. They were filmed in the late seventies/early eighties and he would spend an hour and a half at each one dissecting the nuances of the human form. I learned a lot watching them in preparation for my own teaching and much of the information filtered into my classes as well. He would end each lecture with a similar inspirational recitation. The complete set of 10 lectures is available here:
- though I think at $799 they are drastically overpriced for most. I see some segments are also available to view online.

Matt said...

Gene Wilder as Wonka:

and an Aphex Twin sample:

Dierdra Michelle said...

I have just discovered your blog. I received your two books as a gift for christmas. I am a self taught full time artist and hunger for any information that furthers my understanding and skill. Thank you for your offerings here on your blog. I eagerly watched each added video and will continue to ruminate on what you shared. I look forward to reading each new posting as they come...
thank you...
dierdra michelle

James Gurney said...

Hi, Dierdra,
Welcome, and enjoy the blog. The categories in the "Blog Index" on the side column will take you to a lot of posts on whatever topic interests you.

Just so you know how it works on this blog, I get email alerts each time someone comments, and I love comments. I read each one. I try to answer informational questions, and if I don't get to it, usually one of the other blog readers will answer it.

It's OK with me if you want to add any links that you may have found that further the discussion.

Janet Oliver said...

The good lessons I *did* receive in my university art classes came from Hale. My figure-drawing instructor played his videos. Most students (who were half my age) fell asleep, but I took notes and sketched along.