Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Full of truth or full of use

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John Ruskin

The entire vitality of art depends upon its being either full of truth, or full of use; and…however pleasant, wonderful, or impressive it may be in itself, it must yet be of inferior kind, and tend to deeper inferiority, unless it has clearly one of these main objects,—either to state a true thing, or to adorn a serviceable one. It must never exist alone,—never for itself; it exists rightly only when it is the means of knowledge, or the grace of agency for life…

Skill, and beauty, always then; and, beyond these, the formative arts have always one or the other of the two objects which I have just defined for you—truth, or serviceableness; and without these aims neither the skill nor the beauty will avail; only by these can either legitimately reign. All the graphic arts begin in keeping the outline of shadow that we have loved, and they end in giving to it the aspect of life; and all the architectural arts begin in the shaping of the cup and the platter, and they end in a glorified roof.

John Ruskin, “The Relation of Art to Use”

Written by nevalalee

January 14, 2017 at 7:30 am

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