Chapter 9: Art: Theoretician, Consumer and Patron of the Arts
9. Art: theoretician, consumer and patron of the arts Of all kinds of descriptive or theoretical criticism there is none, to my mind, which is less satisfactory than that which deals with art . . . Nothing can be more fatal than the supposed antagonism between the precise and verbal notions of philosophy and the organic, indivisible perceptions of beauty and feeling, between these things that we know piecemeal and those which we may only grasp as wholes, between those who see and those who understand. ‘A theory of beauty’ (1905-2, pp. 2–3) This, then, is the first step towards peace, the scientist must admit the artist to be his master. ‘Science and art’ (1909-2, p. 3) I can almost boast that I am Commissar for Fine Arts in my country. Letter to M.S. Stepanov, 18 July, 19441 (quoted in Moggridge 1992, p. 705) At last the public exchequer has recognised the support and encouragement of the civilising arts of life as part of their duty. But we do not intend to socialise this side of social endeavour. Whatever views may be held by the lately warring parties, whom you have been hearing every evening at this hour, about socialising industry, everyone, I fancy, recognises that the work of the artist in all its aspects is, of its nature, individual and free, undisciplined, unregimented, uncontrolled. The artist walks where the breath of the spirit blows him. He cannot be told his direction; he does not know it himself. But he leads the...
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