Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Archive for August 15th, 2016

The dentist with a baseball bat

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Celia by John Graham

Many people call themselves “artists,” which is a logical absurdity; there is no such profession. “Artist” is a qualitative adjective denoting a certain perfection in one’s profession. The best shoemaker, baker, musician, painter, architect, in their respective communities, may be called artists or masters. When a man becomes an outstanding master in his craft, people may call him [an] artist. The knowledge of a craft implies honesty and sense of responsibility…

Painting is a very definite, limited, and precise proposition, like any proposition in, say, philosophy or mathematics or the like, or tennis, dentistry, or boxing. Tennis is a game with standards, little courts, and rules. You may come up with a baseball bat and hit the tennis ball miles away; it is, perhaps, much better than tennis, but it is not tennis. Dentistry is an art which teaches how to pull out teeth, according to certain rules; you may come up with a big bat and with one stroke knock all the teeth from someone’s mouth. No doubt, it is much better, but it is not dentistry.

John Graham, quoted in Art in America 1945-1970

Written by nevalalee

August 15, 2016 at 7:30 am

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