I’m reading a book called The Art Spirit by Robert Henri. It only made its way on my reading list because I read that it influenced Keith Haring greatly. Curious, I thought I’d try it to find out why.
Henri comes across as a very charismatic and opinionated man. Whether he was talented or not as an artist, I’m not so sure. But certainly as a teacher. Many of his students were touched and inspired by him.
One of the things that he believes in is that art is life. If you want to live properly, then you must have art in your life.
Here’s one of the many passages that made me think and reflect.
Keep up the work. Try to reduce everything you see to the utmost simplicity. That is, let nothing but the things which are of the utmost importance to you have any place.
The more simply you see, the more simply you will render. People see too much, scatteringly.
A landscape has got to mean a great deal to anyone before it can be painted in any worthwhile way. It is harder to see a landscape than to paint it. This is true because there are lots of clever people who can paint anything, but, lacking the seeing power paint nothing worthwhile.
The technique used to express a dull idea is of the nature of the idea, and however skilled it may be it is still dull. The technique of a fine idea is likewise born of the idea, and is like its parent. Seeing is not such an easy thing as it is supposed to be.