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Monday, March 16, 2009

Art and Labour

Selected Writings Of William Morris Abbreviated and Annotatedas Applicable to the Art of the Traditional Hand Engraving of Guns. by Stephen L. Olin, Gun Engraver.Selected quotes from Art and Labour Full text follows.
"...by art, I do not mean only pictures and sculpture, (Art is) beauty produced by the labour of man both mental and bodily... In other words the human pleasure of life is what I mean by art. Labour without which art could not exist: understand then that the labour I am thinking of is the labour that produces things, the labour of the classes called the working-classes...he had full control over his own material, tools, and time; in other words he was an artist. ...in the Middle Ages everything that man made was beautiful, just as everything that nature makes is always beautiful; and I must again impress upon you the fact that this was because they were made mainly for use, instead of mainly to be bought and sold as is now the case. The beauty of the handicrafts of the Middle Ages came from this, that the workman had control over his material, tools, and time. So much for popular art, that is of real art: there was a sort of gentleman's art left, done entirely by `artists' so-called and showing sometimes in the best of the pictures painted at the period a certain flippant cleverness as to invention and an amount of low manual dexterity in the execution which made the said pictures quite good enough for their purpose, the amusement namely of idle fine gentlemen and ladies. ......art is (not) a thing which can be produced by the conscious efforts of a few cultivated men apart from the work of the great mass of men." ( Ed.note read Leo Tolstoy's definition of art).

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