Les Rêves Canadiens
Weiner, E. (1975). Art and Human Emotions. Springfield, IL:Thomas.
The title drew me to this book, and the content captured me. Weiner discusses subjects
of great importance with humour, sensitivity, and years of experience.
The book is a series of essays and speeches discussing such things as "man's
imperfection is his perfection." He goes on to say that a bad picture is an honest emotion
trying to be expressed. Each time you paint a bad painting you "save yourself a nightmare."
For example, you can see the pain in Munch's early life reflected in his work. He had lost his
mother and sister to tuberculosis. Weiner created a statue of Christ that was physically
unappealing to the church elders. In his mind Christ would not have been accepted by the
rabble if he'd been too beautiful and aloof. Art work that is excessively cosmetic has not stood
the test of time. It is the artist's honesty that shines through all good art of every kind. To the
church elders he suggests that they would be better off giving Sunday School children crayons
to create a work than to buy mass produced pretty Christs. "It is most difficult for a grown-up
person, in his grown-up surroundings, to keep his inner creative urges and powers as pure as
He also goes on to note that artists don't need to defend continually what they are
doing or why, if they come from that honest place. There are many possible reasons and if
you spend your time looking for the reasons you'll miss the work itself. Just as there is the
ugly in life and the silence in music, there is the ugly and blank in art. "Picasso says we are
ugly, and we hate him for it, but he says the truth."
Great art can not be copied. Renoir's greatest works were done after his hands were
crippled by arthritis. Even his factotum could not produce art even close to the quality of
Renoir himself. The factotum was merely the tool. Renoir possessed the spirit.
Art is more than technique. With childlike curiosity, you need to study methods and
the artists before you. But in the end, you can throw those away and jump naked into the
process for it is in your bones. So even though it is rumoured Picasso foisted jokes on the
public, he is a great and proven artist, and therefore it is great humour and great art.
Weiner rambles on covering many topics of concern to me as a young artist. He
mentions the difficulty we have surfacing to face this world of "normal life." He discusses
how we are driven "to do" our art, and how we expose our vulnerability to "express not
impress." I found not so much that I sat with this short book in my lap as much as I sat in the
lap of this mentor.
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