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a danger in too close devotion to Nature, “Yes, for a mediocre artist!" It is for the sake of the strange new beauty, “the unedited poses,” “the odd beautiful huddle of lines," in a stooping or squatting form, that all these wild and subtle moments are portrayed. The limbs must be adjusted or surprised in some pattern beyond their own. The ideas are the occasion and the excuse for new outlines, — that is all.
This is all scarcely less true of Millet, whom we have known above all as the painter who has shown the simple common lot of labor as divine. But he, too, is artist for the sake of beauty first. He sees two peasant women, one laden with grass, the other with fagots. “From far off, they are superb, they balance their shoulders under the weight of fatigue, the twilight swallows their forms. It is beautiful, it is great as a mystery.
The idea is, as I said, from this point of view, a means to new beauty; and the stranger and subtler the idea, the more original the forms. The more unrestrained the expression of emotion in the figures, the more chance to surprise them in some new lovely pattern. It is thus, I believe, that we may interpret the seeming trend of modern sculpture, and so much, indeed, of all modern art, to the "expressive beauty" path. “The mediocre artist” will lose beauty in seeking expression, the great
1 Said of Degas. MacColl. 2 Sensier, Vie et Euvre de J.-F. Millet.
artist will pursue his idea for the sake of the new beauty it will yield.
Thus it seems that the stumbling blocks in the way of our theory are not insurmountable after all. From every point of view, it is seen to be possible to transmute the idea into a helpmeet to the form. Visual beauty is first beauty to the eye and to the frame, and the mind cherishes and enriches this beauty with all its own stored treasures. The stimulation and repose of the psychophysical organ. ism alone can make one thrill to visual form ; but the thrill is deeper and more satisfying if it engage the whole man, and be reinforced from all the sources. /
But we ought to note a borderland in which the concern is professedly not with beauty, but with ideas of life. Aristotle's lover of knowledge, who rejoiced to say of a picture “ This is that man,” is the inspirer of drawing as opposed to the art of visual form.
It is not beauty we seek from the Rembrandt and Dürer of the etchings and woodcuts, from Hogarth, Goya, Klinger, down to Leech and Keene and Du Maurier ; it is not beauty, but ideas, information, irony, satire, life-philosophy. Where there is a conflict, beauty, as we have defined it, goes to the wall. We may trace, perhaps, the ground of this in the highly increased amount of
symbolic, associative power given, and required, in the black and white. Even to understand such a picture demands such an enormous amount of unconscious mental supplementation that it is natural to find the æsthetic centre of gravity in that element.
The first conditions of the work, that is, determine its trend and aim. The part played by imagination in our vision of an etching is and must be so important, that it is, after all, the imaginative part which outweighs the given. Nor do we desire the given to infringe upon the ideal field. Thus do we understand that for most drawings a background vague
and formless is the desideratum. Such a tone is the foil for psychological moments, as they are handled by Goya, for instance, with barbarically magnificent nakedness. On a background which is scarcely indicated, with few strokes, which barely suggest space, he impales like a butterfly the human type, mostly in a moment of folly or wicked
The least definition of surrounding would blunt his (the artist's) keenness, and make his vehemence absurd.” 1
This theory of the aim of black and white is confirmed by the fact that while a painting is composed for the size in which it is painted, and becomes another picture if reproduced in another measure, the size of drawings is relatively indifferent; reduced or enlarged, the effect is approxi
1 Max Klinger, Malerei u. Zeichnung, 1903, p. 42.
mately the same, because what is given to the eye is such a small proportion of the whole experience. The picture is only the cue for a complete structure of ideas.
Here is a true case of Anders-streben, that “partial alienation from its own limitations, by which the arts are able, not indeed to supply the place of each other, but reciprocally to lend each other new forces."1 It is by its success as representation that the art of the burin and needle — Griffelkunst, as Klinger names it ought first to be judged. This is not saying that it may not also possess beauty of form to a high degree, only that this beauty of form is not its characteristic excellence.
In what consists the beauty of visual form ? If this question could be answered in a sentence our whole discussion of the abstract formula for beauty would have been unnecessary. But since we know what the elements of visual form must do to bring about the æsthetic experience, it has been the aim of the preceding pages to show how those elements must be determined and related. The eye, the psychophysical organism, must be favorably stimulated; these, and such colors, combinations, lines as we have described, are fitted to do it. It must be brought to repose ; these, and such relations between lines and colors as we have set forth, are fitted to do it, for reasons we have given. It is to the eye and all that waits upon it that the first and the last appeal of fine art must be made; and in so far as the emotion or the idea belonging to a picture or a statue waits upon the eye, in so far does it enter into the characteristic excellence, that is, the beauty of visual form.
1 W. Pater, The Renaissance : Essay on Giorgione.
B. SPACE COMPOSITION AMONG THE OLD
I The preceding pages have set forth the concrete facts of visible beauty, and the explanation of our feelings about it. It is also interesting, however, to see how these principles are illustrated and confirmed in the masterpieces of art. A statistical study, undertaken some years ago with the purpose of dealing thus with the hypothesis of substitutional symmetry in pictorial composition, has given abundance of material, which I shall set forth, at otherwise disproportionate length, as to a certain extent illustrative of the methods of such study. It is clear that this is but one of many possible investigations in which the preceding psychological theories may be further illuminated. The text confines itself to pictures; but the functions of the elements of visual form are valid as well for all visual art destined to fill a bounded area. The discussion will then be seen to be only ostensibly limited in its reference. For picture might always be read space arrangement within a frame.