Saturday, March 20, 2010

Words of Wisdom: Alfred Stevens Part II



It is not until a certain period of life that a man rightly understands his art.

The more one knows, the more one simplifies.

The artist in his maturity should have his convictions, but he should nevertheless wrap himself in pious meditation before his easel. The early masters undoubtedly made the sign of the cross before painting.

Time renders sound painting more beautiful and debases the bad.

As a general thing, one must be dead in order to sell at a high figure.

There is no artist's studio, even a mediocre one, in which a study may not be found superior to his finished works.


At a certain age, a painter should no longer be afraid of trembling.

The born painter never believes that he has succeeded; he is constantly seeking to enlarge and elevate his art, even above his strength; this is, besides, for an artist, the only means of not weakening at a certain age.

Reputations are easy to acquire; what is difficult is to render them lasting.

The sincere approbation of his professional comrades is, for the painter, the most flattering of recompenses.

A great reputation is difficult to preserve if one has left few works behind him.

To live to be very old, and to preserve until the end of one's days a great reputation in the art of painting, seems to me an almost impossible thing.

If one laments the premature death of a painter, one should also sometimes mourn for him who, for his art, lives to be too old.

Art is jealous; it does not forgive even a moment of forgetfulness.

There are painters who have been useful to others and who are worth very little to themselves.

If the old masters, of no matter what school, could return to earth, be assured that they would not hesitate to cause not a few of their works to disappear.


3 comments:

Jason de Graaf said...

Good stuff.

Björn said...

I'm not quite sure if I like quotes like these because if you haven't experienced them for yourself, you'll never be able to embrace or relate to them. If you somehow do embrace a word of wisdom before you've actually connected the dots that lead to that quote -- you'll be underdeveloped.

Great blog!

innisart said...

Some teachers feel like broken records, saying the same thing over and again to their students. It's not that they are limited in what they have to share, it's just that the students don't always absorb what is being said the first time around.

I think that is always the case; we often hear good advice or an important lesson at a time when we are not ready to absorb it. It is the fortunate student who happens upon the right teacher at the right time, but life doesn't always work that way. What is nice about the words these teachers of the past left behind is that we can read them again and again until the day they actually do "click."

With most of these particular quotes from Stevens, the artist is reflecting upon his career from the vantage point of an elderly man. I hope we can all live long enough and paint long enough to have our own similar reflections. In the meantime, Stevens reminds us to create artwork now of which we will still be proud when we are old and gray.

Nice to meet you Björn!