Saturday, December 4, 2010

Inspirational Quotes

In my high school years I attended the High School of Art & Design in New York City, and during those years I sat in Irwin (Greeny) Greenberg’s class. Greeny taught painting from life in watercolor and oils. Half way through the class Greeny would stop to give a small lecture on art history. Usually he had a book about some artist that he shared with the class. We learned about Rembrandt, Rubens, Sargent, Eakins, Winslow Homer, N.C. Wyeth. Sometimes he talked about Tolstoy, Charles Dickens or he would pick something in history, some famous quote or some personal experience that he thought would inspire us. I got the idea that what we were learning and doing was part of a long tradition that dates as far back as the cave paintings at Lascaux and that somehow we could make a connection with artist throughout history. One of the books Greeny would quote from was the Art Spirit in which Robert Henri talked about a brotherhood of artist that know no boundaries of time and space but are tied together through mutual interests.
Here I put down a few of the quotes that have remained with me from my high school days and continue to inspire me.

“From the age of six I had a mania for drawing the forms of things. By the time I was fifty I had published an infinity of designs; but all I did before the age of seventy is not worth taking into account. At seventy three I learned a little about the real structure of nature, of animals, plants, trees, birds, fishes, and insects. In consequence when I am eighty I shall have still made progress; at ninety I shall penetrate the mystery of things; at a hundred I shall certainly have reached a marvelous stage; and when I am a hundred and ten everything I do, be it a dot or a line, will be alive. I beg those who live as long as I to see if I do not keep my word.” (Hokusai)

The Great Wave, by Hokus
“Through art, mysterious bonds of understanding and of knowledge are established among men. They are the bonds of a great Brotherhood. Those who are of the Brotherhood know each other, and time and space cannot separate them.” (Robert Henri)

Celestina, by Henri
“Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” ( Calvin Coolidge)

Calvin Coolidge
“If the artist is alive in you, you may meet Greco nearer than many people, also Plato, Shakespeare, the Greeks.(Robert Henri)
In certain books- some way in the first few paragraphs you know that you met a brother.
You pass people on the street, some are for you, some are not.
Here is a sketch by Leonardo Da Vinci. I enter this sketch and I see him at work and in trouble and I meet him there.”

Boy with a Green Cap, Henri
“If heaven could only grant me ten more years! Only five and I would have become a real painter.” (Hokusai on his death bed)

Red Fuji, Hokusai

Ealier post on Greeny

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