Art

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Category: Note
The real problem of the metaphysics of the beautiful may be very simply expressed by our asking how satisfaction with and pleasure in an object are possible without any reference thereof to our willing. Thus everyone feels that pleasure and satisfaction in a thing can really spring only from its relation to our will or, as we are fond of expressing it, to our aims, so that pleasure without a stirring of the will seems to be a contradiction. Yet the beautiful, as such, quite obviously gives rise to our delight and pleasure, without its having any reference to our ...
Category: Arts & Literature
St. James's Gazette , June 24th, 1890 Time was (it was in the '70's) when we talked about Mr. Oscar Wilde; time came (it was in the '80's) when he tried to write poetry and, more adventurous, we tried to read it; time is when we had forgotten him, or only remember him as the late editor of the Woman's World —a part for which he was singularly unfitted, if we are to judge him by the work which he has been allowed to publish in Lippincott's Magazine , and which Messrs. Ward, Lock and Co., have not been ashamed ...
Category: Note
Author: Oscar Wilde
So much, indeed, will he feel this, that I am certain that, as civilisation progresses and we become more highly organised, the elect spirits of each age, the critical and cultured spirits, will grow less and less interested in actual life, and will seek to gain their impressions almost entirely from what Art has touched. For life is terribly deficient in form. Its catastrophes happen in the wrong way and to the wrong people. There is a grotesque horror about its comedies, and its tragedies seem to culminate in farce. One is always wounded when one approaches it.
Category: Note
Author: Oscar Wilde
They knew that Life gains from art not merely spirituality, depth of thought and feeling, soul-turmoil or soul-peace, but that she can form herself on the very lines and colours of art, and can reproduce the dignity of Pheidias as well as the grace of Praxiteles. Hence came their objection to realism. They disliked it on purely social grounds. They felt that it inevitably makes people ugly, and they were perfectly right. We try to improve the conditions of the race by means of good air, free sunlight, wholesome water, and hideous bare buildings for the better housing of the ...
Category: Note
The praiseworthy object of pursuing everywhere moral good as the supreme aim, which has already brought forth in art so much mediocrity, has caused also in theory a similar prejudice. To assign to the fine arts a really elevated position, to conciliate for them the favor of the State, the veneration of all men, they are pushed beyond their due domain, and a vocation is imposed upon them contrary to their nature. It is supposed that a great service is awarded to them by substituting for a frivolous aim—that of charming—a moral aim; and their influence upon morality, which is ...
Category: Arts & Literature
Author: Oscar Wilde
People often talk as if there was an opposition between what is beautiful and what is useful. There is no opposition to beauty except ugliness: all things are either beautiful or ugly, and utility will be always on the side of the beautiful thing, because beautiful decoration is always on the side of the beautiful thing, because beautiful decoration is always an expression of the use you put a thing to and the value placed on it. No workman will beautifully decorate bad work, nor can you possibly get good handicraftsmen or workmen without having beautiful designs. You should be ...
Category: Arts & Literature
Author: Oscar Wilde
And then as regards design, show him how the real designer will take first any given limited space, little disk of silver, it may be, like a Greek coin, or wide expanse of fretted ceiling or lordly wall as Tintoret chose at Venice (it does not matter which), and to this limited space - the first condition of decoration being the limitation of the size of the material used - he will give the effect of its being filled with beautiful decoration, filled with it as a golden cup will be filled with wine, so complete that you should not ...
Category: Arts & Literature
Author: Oscar Wilde
But what you do love are your own men and women, your own flowers and fields, your own hills and mountains, and these are what your art should represent to you. Ours has been the first movement which has brought the handicraftsman and the artist together, for remember that by separating the one from the other you do ruin to both; you rob the one of all spiritual motive and all imaginative joy, you isolate the other from all real technical perfection. The two greatest schools of art in the world, the sculptor at Athens and the school of painting ...
Category: Arts & Literature
Author: Oscar Wilde
This is the spirit of our movement in England, and this is the spirit in which we would wish you to work, making eternal by your art all that is noble in your men and women, stately in your lakes and mountains, beautiful in your own flowers and natural life. We want to see that you have nothing in your houses that has not been a joy to the man who made it, and is not a joy to those that use it. We want to see you create an art made by the hands of the people to please ...
Category: Note
Author: Oscar Wilde
Bad artists always admire each other's work. They call it being large-minded and free from prejudice. But a truly great artist cannot conceive of life being shown, or beauty fashioned, under any conditions other than those that he has selected.
Category: Quotation
Author: Oscar Wilde
Cultivated idleness seems to me to be the proper occupation for men.
Category: Philosophy
Preliminary note The outstanding feature of the remarkable "Conversations with Eckermann" is this, that the compilation furnishes an altogether unique record of the working of Goethe's mature mind. For Goethe's age at the period when the "Conversations" begin is seventy-three, and eighty-two when they end. John Peter Eckermann published his work in 1836. In 1848 appeared an additional portion. Eckermann, born at Winsen, in Hanover, was the son of a woollen draper. He received an excellent education, and studied art, under Ramber, in Hanover, but soon became enamoured of poetry through the influence of Körner and of Goethe. He became ...
Category: Arts & Literature
Author: Oscar Wilde
In my last lecture I gave you something of the history of Art in England. I sought to trace the influence of the French Revolution upon its development. I said something of the song of Keats and the school of the pre-Raphaelites. But I do not want to shelter the movement, which I have called the English Renaissance, under any palladium however noble, or any name however revered. The roots of it have, indeed, to be sought for in things that have long passed away, and not, as some suppose, in the fancy of a few young men - although ...
Category: Arts & Literature
Author: Oscar Wilde
Their wide-brimmed hats, which shaded their faces from the sun and protected them from the rain, and the cloak, which is by far the most beautiful piece of drapery ever invented, may well be dwelt on with admiration. Their high boots, too, were sensible and practical. They wore only what was comfortable, and therefore beautiful. As I looked at them I could not help thinking with regret of the time when these picturesque miners would have made their fortunes and would go East to assume again all the abominations of modern fashionable attire. Indeed, so concerned was I that I ...
Category: Arts & Literature
Author: Oscar Wilde
I said in my last lecture that art would create a new brotherhood among men by furnishing a universal language. I said that under its beneficent influences war might pass away. Thinking this, what place can I ascribe to art in our education? If children grow up among all fair and lovely things, they will grow to love beauty and detest ugliness before they know the reason why. If you go into a house where everything is coarse, you find things chipped and broken and unsightly. Nobody exercises any care. If everything is dainty and delicate, gentleness and refinement of ...
Category: Arts & Literature
Art and Morality A Defence of The Picture of Dorian Gray "Why do you always write poetry? Why do you not write prose? Prose is so much more difficult." These were the words of Walter Pater to Oscar Wilde on the occasion of their first meeting during the latter's undergraduate days at Oxford. [1] Those were "days of lyrical ardours and of studious sonnet-writing," wrote Wilde, in reviewing one of Pater's books some years later, [2] "days when one loved the exquisite intricacy and musical repetitions of the ballade, and the vilanelle with its linked long-drawn echoes and its curious ...
Category: Note
Author: Oscar Wilde
Of the three qualifications you mentioned, two, sincerity and fairness, were, if not actually moral, at least on the borderland of morals, and the first condition of criticism is that the critic should be able to recognise that the sphere of Art and the sphere of Ethics are absolutely distinct and separate. When they are confused, Chaos has come again. They are too often confused in England now, and though our modern Puritans cannot destroy a beautiful thing, yet, by means of their extraordinary prurience, they can almost taint beauty for a moment. It is chiefly, I regret to say, ...
Category: Arts & Literature
Author: Oscar Wilde
No object is so ugly that, under certain conditions of light and shade, or proximity to other things, it will not look beautiful; no object is so beautiful that, under certain conditions, it will not look ugly. I believe that in every twenty-four hours what is beautiful looks ugly, and what is ugly looks beautiful, once. And, the commonplace character of so much of our English painting seems to me due to the fact that so many of our young artists look merely at what we may call 'ready-made beauty,' whereas you exist as artists not to copy beauty but ...
Category: Arts & Literature
Author: Oscar Wilde
In the lecture which it is my privilege to deliver before you to- night I do not desire to give you any abstract definition of beauty at all. For we who are working in art cannot accept any theory of beauty in exchange for beauty itself, and, so far from desiring to isolate it in a formula appealing to the intellect, we, on the contrary, seek to materialise it in a form that gives joy to the soul through the senses. We want to create it, not to define it. The definition should follow the work: the work should not ...
Category: Arts & Literature
Author: Oscar Wilde
For having done this, for having introduced into a bas relief, taken from Greek sacred history, the image of the great statesman who was ruling Athens at the time, Phidias was flung into prison and there, in the common gaol of Athens, died, the supreme artist of the old world. And do you think that this was an exceptional case? The sign of a Philistine age is the cry of immorality against art, and this cry was raised by the Athenian people against every great poet and thinker of their day - AEschylus, Euripides, Socrates. It was the same with ...
Category: Arts & Literature
Preliminary note The correspondence of Goethe with his friends, especially his voluminous letters to his friend Zelter, will always be resorted to by readers who wish for intimate knowledge of the innermost processes of the great poet's mind. Zelter was himself an extraordinary man. By trade he was a stonemason, but he became a skilled musical amateur, and a most versatile and entertaining critic. To him fell the remarkable distinction of becoming the tutor of that musical genius, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, while he also acquired the glory of being "the restorer of Bach to the Germans." Like Eckermann, the other ...
Category: Note
Author: Oscar Wilde
Life! Life! Don’t let us go to life for our fulfilment or our experience. It is a thing narrowed by circumstances, incoherent in its utterance, and without that fine correspondence of form and spirit which is the only thing that can satisfy the artistic and critical temperament. It makes us pay too high a price for its wares, and we purchase the meanest of its secrets at a cost that is monstrous and infinite.
Category: Note
The object of the sensuous instinct, expressed in a universal conception, is named Life in the widest acceptation; a conception that expresses all material existence and all that is immediately present in the senses. The object of the formal instinct, expressed in a universal conception, is called shape or form, as well in an exact as in an inexact acceptation; a conception that embraces all formal qualities of things and all relations of the same to the thinking powers. The object of the play instinct, represented in a general statement, may therefore bear the name of living form; a term ...
Category: Quotation
Author: Oscar Wilde
Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.
Category: Note
Author: Oscar Wilde
Don’t let us go to life for our fulfilment or our experience. It is a thing narrowed by circumstances, incoherent in its utterance, and without that fine correspondence of form and spirit which is the only thing that can satisfy the artistic and critical temperament. It makes us pay too high a price for its wares, and we purchase the meanest of its secrets at a cost that is monstrous and infinite.
Category: Arts & Literature
Mr. Oscar Wilde continues to carry on the defence of his novelette, "The Picture of Dorian Gray". Writing to us under yesterday's date [8] , he says:— [Footnote 8: June 26th.] In your issue of to-day you state that my brief letter published in your columns is the "best reply" I can make to your article upon "Dorian Gray." This is not so. I do not propose to discuss fully the matter here, but I feel bound to say that your article contains the most unjustifiable attack that has been made upon any man of letters for many years. The ...
Category: Arts & Literature
To the Editor of the St. James's Gazette . [9] [Footnote 9: June 28th.] Sir,—As you still keep up, though in a somewhat milder form than before, your attacks on me and my book you not only confer upon me the right, but you impose on me the duty of reply. You state, in your issue of to-day, that I misrepresented you when I said that you suggested that a book so wicked as mine should be "suppressed and coerced by a Tory Government." Now, you did not propose this, but you did suggest it. When you declare that you ...
Category: Arts & Literature
To the Editor of the St. James's Gazette (June 26th, 1890) Sir,—I have read your criticism of my story, "The Picture of Dorian Gray," and I need hardly say that I do not propose to discuss its merits and demerits, its personalities or its lack of personality. England is a free country, and ordinary English criticism is perfectly free and easy. Besides, I must admit that, either from temperament or taste, or from both, I am quite incapable of understanding how any work of art can be criticised from a moral standpoint. The sphere of art and the sphere of ...
Category: Note
The newspapers are the seconds-hand of history; yet this is often not only of baser metal, but is seldom right. The so-called ‘leading articles’ in the papers are the chorus to the drama of contemporary events. Exaggeration of every kind is as essential to journalism as it is to dramatic art; for as much as possible must be made of every event; and so by virtue of their profession all journalists are alarmists; this is their way of making themselves interesting, whereby they resemble small dogs who at once start barking loudly at everything that stirs. We accordingly have to ...
Category: Quotation
Author: Oscar Wilde
All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling. To be natural is to be obvious, and to be obvious is to be inartistic.
Category: Philosophy
OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS - FIRST PUBLISHED 1974 PARERGA AND PARALIPOMENA: SHORT PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAYS / ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN BY E. F. J. PAYNE.-REV. ED. CHAPTER XIX. ON THE METAPHYSICS OF THE BEAUTIFUL AND AESTHETICS As I have dealt in sufficient detail in my chief work with the conception of the (Platonic) Ideas and with the correlativef thereof, namely the pure subject of knowing, I should regard it as superfluous here to return to it once more, did I not bear in mind that this is a consideration which in this sense has never been undertaken prior to me. ...
Category: Arts & Literature
Preliminary note As "Werther" and "Wilhelm Meister" belong to the earlier and to the middle periods of Goethe's literary activity, so the following selections fall naturally into the last division of his life. The death of Schiller in 1805 had given a blow to his affections which even his warm relationship with other friends could not replace, and hereafter he begins to concentrate more and more upon himself to the completion of those works which he had had in mind and preparation through so many years, the greatest of which was to be the "Faust." In "Poetry and Truth from ...
Category: Quotation
Author: Oscar Wilde
Popularity is the crown of laurel which the world puts on bad art. Whatever is popular is wrong.
Category: Quotation
Author: Oscar Wilde
To arrive at what one really believes, one must speak through lips different from one’s own.
Category: Note
To the mass the sublimest and highest is only exaggeration, because sublimity is perceived by reason, and all men have not the same share of it. A vulgar soul is oppressed or overstretched by those sublime ideas, and the crowd sees dreadful disorder where a thinking mind sees the highest order.
Category: Note
The agreeable is not worthy of art, and the good is at least not its end; for the aim of art is to please, and the good, whether we consider it in theory or in practice, neither can nor ought to serve as a means of satisfying the wants of sensuousness. The agreeable only satisfies the senses, and is distinguished thereby from the good, which only pleases the reason. The agreeable only pleases by its matter, for it is only matter that can affect the senses, and all that is form can only please the reason. It is true that ...
Category: Arts & Literature
The wealthy man, who, blasé though he may be, has no occupation in life but to chase along the highway of happiness, the man nurtured in luxury, and habituated from early youth to being obeyed by others, the man, finally, who has no profession other than elegance, is bound at all times to have a facial expression of a very special kind. Dandyism is an ill-defined social attitude as strange as dueling; it goes back a long way, since Caesar, Catilina, Alcibiades provide us with brilliant examples of it; it is very widespread, since Chateaubriand found examples of it in ...
Category: Arts & Literature
Author: Oscar Wilde
AUTHOR: OSCAR WILDE EDITOR: ROBERT ROSS TRANSCRIBED FROM THE 1913 METHUEN AND CO EDITION BY DAVID PRICE ‘The English Renaissance of Art’ was delivered as a lecture for the first time in the Chickering Hall, New York, on January 9, 1882. A portion of it was reported in the New York Tribune on the following day and in other American papers subsequently. Since then this portion has been reprinted, more or less accurately, from time to time, in unauthorised editions. There are in existence no less than four copies of the lecture, the earliest of which is entirely in the ...
Category: Note
Art consists in our bringing the inner life into the most intense action with the least possible expenditure of the outer; for the inner is really the object of our interest.
Category: Note
Author: Oscar Wilde
It is through Art, and through Art only, that we can realise our perfection; through Art, and through Art only, that we can shield ourselves from the sordid perils of actual existence. This results not merely from the fact that nothing that one can imagine is worth doing, and that one can imagine everything, but from the subtle law that emotional forces, like the forces of the physical sphere, are limited in extent and energy.