Sunday, October 12, 2008

From ‘Lust For Life’ by Irving Stone – a book on Vincent Van Gogh

Human conduct…….is a great deal like drawing. The whole perspective changes with the shifted position of the eye and depends not on the subject but on the man who is looking

“They call my books immoral,” said Zola “for the same reason that they attribute immorality to your paintings, Henri. The public cannot understand that there is no room for MORAL judgements in art. Art is amoral; so is life. For me there are no obscene pictures or books; there are only poorly conceived and poorly executed ones. A whore by Toulouse-Lautrec is moral because he brings out the beauty that lies beneath her external appearance; a pure country girl by Bouguereau is immoral because she is sentimentalized and so cloyingly sweet that just to look at her is enough to make you vomit.
The ordinary human being thinks in terms of duality; light and shade: sweet and sour, good and evil. That duality does not exist in nature. There is neither good nor evil in the world but only being and doing. When we describe an action, we describe life; when we call that action names – like depravity or obscenity – we go into the realm of subjective prejudice.”

“Lets formulate our manifesto, gentlemen,” said Zola. “First, we think all truth beautiful, no matter how hideous it's face may seem. We accept all of nature without any repudiation. We believe there is more beauty in a harsh truth than in a pretty lie, more poetry in earthiness than in all the salons of Paris. We think pain good, because it is the most profound of all human feelings. We think sex beautiful, even when portrayed by a harlot and a pimp. We put character above ugliness, pain above prettiness and hard, crude reality above all the wealth of France. We accept life in it's entirety, without making any moral judgements. We think the prostitute as good as the countess, the concierge as good as the general, the peasant as good as the cabinet minister for they all fit into the pattern of nature and are woven into the design of life!”

……….the fields that push up the corn and the water that rushes down the ravine, the juice of the grape and the life of a man as it flows past him are all one and the same thing. The sole unity in life is the unity of rhythm. A rhythm to which we all dance; men, apples, ravines, ploughed fields, carts among the corn, houses, horses and the sun. the stuff that is in you, Gauguin, will pound through a grape tomorrow because you and the grape are one. When I paint a peasant laboring in the field, I want people to feel the peasant flowing down into the soil, just as the corn does, and the soil flowing up into the peasant. I want them to feel the sun pouring into the peasant, into the field, the corn, the plough and the horses just as they all pour back into the sun. When you being to feel the universal rhythm in which everything on earth moves, you being to understand life. THAT ALONE IS GOD

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