Sunday, June 14, 2020

'We want no imitation'

"It is not the business of the artist to express what is obvious to every one," said Sir Alfred East (1849-1913). "If it were, he would prefer the actual fact to the painted one." 

Sir Alfred East (1849-1913), Opulent Autumn, 57½ x 87 in. (146 x 221 cm.)

East continues: "We want no imitation, even if it were done to the point of deception; but what we do look for is the strong, vivid and frank impression of a cultivated mind." 

East imagines Turner looking at a scene in nature and saying to himself: "'What does this convey to me, and what great phase of nature does this material serve to express?' What was useless for his purpose he deliberately ignored, and aggrandized the material which was to justify the purpose he had in view. So that nature to the painter, as well as to the builder, offers the material by which great things can be built; and we can read between the lines of the artist's work the exact mental attitude he held when he painted any particular scene."
—Sir Alfred East, introduction to Sketching Grounds, 1909


Susan Krzywicki said...

That is such a succinct explanation for why humans make art. I've often thought about this but never came anywhere close to being able to explain to myself what the impulse is about. It also logically brings us to the current day, where the definition of art has expanded and wandered all over the place.

Thom Rozendaal said...

That's why I don't understand why people make paintings that are indistinguishable from photos. Although the way East says it it sounds kind of pretentious and like he looks down on any realist art, I do agree that there is no point in making a painting if you don't put a little bit of yourself or your interpretation into it.

On a different note, I just watched the movie Ford vs. Ferrari yesterday, and Dan Gurney's name came up in a few scenes, would that be the same Dan that's your cousin? Have you seen the movie?