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Adventures in the Arts Informal Chapters on Painters, Vaudeville, and Poets   By: (1877-1943)

Book cover

First Page:

ADVENTURES

IN THE ARTS

INFORMAL

CHAPTERS

ON PAINTERS

VAUDEVILLE

AND POETS

BY

MARSDEN HARTLEY

BONI AND LIVERIGHT

Publishers New York

COPYRIGHT, 1921, BY

BONI & LIVERIGHT, INC.

PREFATORY NOTE

The papers in this book are not intended in any way to be professional treatises. They must be viewed in the light of entertaining conversations. Their possible value lies in their directness of impulse, and not in weight of argument. I could not wish to go into the qualities of art more deeply. A reaction, to be pleasant, must be simple. This is the apology I have to offer: Reactions, then, through direct impulse, and not essays by means of stiffened analysis.

MARSDEN HARTLEY.

Some of the papers included in this book have appeared in Art and Archeology , The Seven Arts , The Dial , The Nation , The New Republic , and The Touchstone . Thanks are due to the editors of these periodicals for permission to reprint.

TO

ALFRED STIEGLITZ

INTRODUCTION

TO

ADVENTURES IN THE ARTS

Perhaps the most important part of Criticism is the fact that it presents to the creator a problem which is never solved. Criticism is to him a perpetual Presence: or perhaps a ghost which he will not succeed in laying. If he could satisfy his mind that Criticism was a certain thing: a good thing or a bad, a proper presence or an irrelevant, he could psychologically dispose of it. But he can not. For Criticism is a configuration of responses and reactions so intricate, so kaleidoscopic, that it would be as simple to category Life itself.

The artist remains the artist precisely in so far as he rejects the simplifying and reducing process of the average man who at an early age puts Life away into some snug conception of his mind and race. This one turns the key. He has released his will and love from the vast Ceremonial of wonder, from the deep Poem of Being, into some particular detail of life wherein he hopes to achieve comfort or at least shun pain. Not so, the artist. In the moment when he elects to avoid by whatever makeshift the raw agony of life, he ceases to be fit to create. He must face experience forever freshly: reduce life each day anew to chaos and remould it into order. He must be always a willing virgin, given up to life and so enlacing it. Thus only may he retain and record that pure surprise whose earliest voicing is the first cry of the infant.

The unresolved expectancy of the creator toward Life should be his way toward Criticism also. He should hold it as part of his Adventure. He should understand in it, particularly when it is impertinent, stupid and cruel, the ponderable weight of Life itself, reacting upon his search for a fresh conquest over it. Though it persist unchanged in its rĂ´le of purveying misinformation and absurdity to the Public, he should know it for himself a blessed dispensation.

With his maturity, the creator's work goes out into the world. And in this act, he puts the world away. For the artist's work defines: and definition means apartness: and the average man is undefined in the social body. Here is a danger for the artist within the very essence of his artistic virtue. During the years of his apprenticeship, he has struggled to create for himself an essential world out of experience. Now he begins to succeed: and he lives too fully in his own selection: he lives too simply in the effects of his effort... Continue reading book >>




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