The Art Spirit by Robert Henri, 1923, Excerpts and Materarts’ Comments

ART when really understood is the province of every human being.

It is simply a question of doing things, anything, well. It is not an outside, extra thing.

When the artist is alive in any person, whatever his kind of work may be, he becomes an inventive, searching, daring, self-expressing creature. He becomes interesting to other people. He disturbs, upsets, enlightens, and he opens ways for a better understanding. Where those who are not artists are trying to close the book, he opens it, shows there are still more pages possible.

The world would stagnate without him, and the world would be beautiful with him; and the world would be beautiful with him; for he is interesting to himself and he is interesting to others. He does not have to be a painter or sculptor to be an artist. He can work in any medium. He simply has to find the gain in the work itself, not outside it. 

Museums of art will not make a country an art country. But where there is the art spirit there will be precious works to fill museums. Better still, there will be the happiness that is in the making. Art tends towards balance, order, judgment of relative values, the laws of growth, the economy of living–very good things for anyone to be interested in.

Robert Henri at the Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan
The Art Student (Miss Josephine Nivison), 1906


In the modern age art has gained a rightfully bad reputation because of all the charlatans who have hoodwinked the world with their “emperor’s clothing” Isms. So if I call myself an artist, I’ve found over my lifetime, my Christian brethren squint at me with expectation that I’m either a “painter of light” as the artist whom I most despise, Kinkade, (because of the patiently false pastel worlds he presents that I’d be loathe to live in) or that I’m a flaky bohemian druggie.

There doesn’t seem to be much comprehension of the above Henri description of how every person is an artist in living everyday life to the greatest expression possible in this short stage of mortal existence. Instead art has been twisted to represent the extremes of saccharine on the “good” side and “brimstone” on the bad.


NPR Kinkade article & audio link 

The pretenders and posers will always be with us just as tares in the church, we can identify them sometimes, but not always, so yes, I have to acquiesce to the possibility that Kinkade may be both an artist and a Christian.  I’ll leave him to his Maker, just as I am.

I’m just saying,  “What goes for art can go for life.” We can miss the fullness of everything if we don’t learn to see for ourselves by our own study and usage of our own eyes and minds of the wonderful Creator and His creation. If we are followers who have to have a worldly leader we will be mislead in on direction or the other away from the fullness of life. Expert is another title for letting someone else make our choices. Here is an example of one famous person’s trusting in another’s leading that cost him thousands of dollars and a lot of embarrassment.


Steve Martin Swindled 
The scope of what is believed to be Germany’s biggest art forgery scandal since World War II has reached as far as Hollywood. American actor Steve Martin bought one of the fake paintings in 2004 and later sold it at a loss of some 200,000 euros. 


My request and wish is that Mr. Martin and everybody else should buy artworks they really like (without regard for other’s opinions) from living artists who are trying to make a living today while they and their families need it. Oh well, art appreciation isn’t taught by true hearts in very many places of education and I guess it never has been and never will be, sigh………………

ART when really understood is the province of every human being.

Edna Smith in a Japanese Wrap, Robert Henri


Robert Henri
The Fisherman’s Son: Thomas Cafferty, 1925


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