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The Art Spirit by Robert Henri
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The Art Spirit

by Robert Henri

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"Art when really understood is the province of every human being."

Thus begins one of the most remarkable books ever written on the subject.

The Art Spirit is comprised of various letters, articles, speeches, notes, and fragments of artist and art teacher Robert Henri. Ranging from several pages to single sentences and arranged somewhat haphazardly, these teachings nevertheless add up to a fairly comprehensive view of the purpose of art and the nature of the artist. He discusses technique, but emphasizes that technique is only a means to the end of artistic expression, not an end or expression in itself. Being an artist is about having a certain relationship to existence, a unique perspective on reality. Art is value-laden, and that's what makes it meaningful. Art isn't about simply making the best copy of nature, it's about seeing beyond the surface impressions and finding the deeper meaning of things, and selectively using what's given in nature to express that meaning: "The great artist has not reproduced nature, but has expressed by his extract the most choice sensation it has made upon him...The artist who does not use his imagination is a mechanic."

Even when he's discussing technique, Henri's teaching will greatly enhance anyone's appreciation of art. And much of what he says about technique is applicable at least by analogy to other art forms (such as literary expression or musical composition), and some of it to any kind of creative work.

The book's form makes it perfect for reading straight through, or for dipping in at random. A truly remarkable book. ( )
  AshRyan | Apr 8, 2012 |
This is one of those great books that I can read over and over again and never get tired of it. I can also pick it up and read it for 5 minutes at a time and still get something out of it.

The book is organized into small snippets/quotes of wisdom about art, life, and all matters in between. ( )
  conceptDawg | Aug 1, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0064301389, Paperback)

In this book are the essential beliefs and theories of a great teacher and American artist, Robert Henri. While it embodies the entire system of his teaching, with much technical advice and critical comment for the student, it also contains inspiration for those to whom the happiness to be found through all the arts is important.No other American painter attracted such a large, intensely personal group of followers as Henri, whose death in 1929 brought to an end a life that has been completely devoted to art. He was an inspired artist and teacher who believed that everyone is vitally concerned in the happiness and wisdom to be found through the arts. Many of his paintings have been acquired by museums and private collectors. Among them are the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Wichita Art Museum, and Yale University Art Gallery.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:53:15 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The Art Spirit represents the best of the collected words, teachings, and letters of inspired artist and teacher Robert Henri. Filled with valuable technical advice as well as wisdom about the place of art and the artist in American society, this classic work continues t be a must-read for all aspiring artists and lovers of art. --Publisher's description.… (more)

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