Title: The Quotable Artist
Author: Peggy Hadden
Publisher/Date: Allworth Press/2002
Dates read: 6/20/17 – 7/7/17
I cannot remember where I got this book, it’s been on my bookshelf for years! But it fit a category in one of the challenges I’m doing this year. Ms. Hadden has done well with pulling together the quotes from hundreds of years of artists. It is an easy to read book, divided into twenty nine short chapters.
Even if you’re not into art, the quotes are so apropos for many artistic professions. In the chapter, On the Working Process, artist Henry Fuesli (1741 – 1825) is quoted as saying – “Indiscriminate pursuit of perfection infallibly leads to mediocrity.” I loved the story Cennino Cennini (c. 1370 – c.1440) tells about how the bristle brushes are made in the chapter, On Materials. It seems the bristles of a white hog are better than black ones. So you need to make sure they are from a domestic hog. Who’d have thought!
And I fell in love with a description of how a building under construction looks in the winter snow as seen through the eyes of Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946) as he stood spellbound and saw the building as he had never seen it before. He was a photographer who had never thought to capture this view of the Flat Iron Building in New York City.
I like the way Hadden also arranged her chapters, using the word “On” in the subject, giving a brief overview and a short quote by an artist. “Things should all be moving toward the expression of a great idea.” Robert Henri (1865 – 1929) tells us from On Schools and Isms.
Throughout the book, the type face is artistically enlarged every page or so for one quote so to break up the multitude of quotes. Artists range as far back as contemporaries Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475 – 1564) and Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519), Edgar Degas (1834 – 1917) and Claude Monet (1840 - 1926) and Ansel Adams (1902 – 1984) and Frank Lloyd Wright (1869-1959). There are quotes which contradict each other such as Auguste Rodin’s (1840-1917) declaration that “… black is the queen of colors” while Edouard Manet (1832-1883) insists “Black is not a color.” And humor, especially from Georgia O’Keeffe (1887 – 1986), to wit – “Wise men say it isn’t art! But what of it, if it is children and love in paint?” And “I hate flowers – I paint them because they’re cheaper than models and they don’t move!”
The oldest artists included in this work are Aristotle (384 B.C. – 322 B. C.) -- “Beauty is a gift of God.” And Hui Neng (700 A. D.) -- “The meaning of life is to see.”
Despite the theme of the book, it is rich in diversity.