The Power Of Art
( Originally Published 1896 )
Great is the power of art, of the brush and chisel. Rightly use it, and it is one of the fittest instruments of good; wrongly used, it becomes one of the foulest mediums of folly and wickedness. If it is not the aim of art to ennoble the life of man, then art has no raison d'etre, no well-defined and worthy office.
Art may and must help defend society. Society has its defense in the God-given talents of men in the field of science, literature, and art. Painters, sculptors, architects, musicians, composers, poets, and literary men should elevate and support society. It is the privilege and duty of all good men whether of the intellectual or imaginative class, whether writers, public speakers, painters, or sculptors, to aid in weaving a sound and beautiful fabric of social life.
If bad art corrupted the morals of the ancients and of some nations that are not so ancient, so good art will help reform these modern times. Who will deny that even the rude cartoonist, has done much to reform the corrupt politics of the day, to break up oppressive monopolies, rings, and trusts! It is in the power of an artist to make the age or society in which he lives better - nobler in thought and soul. Titian was a great artist, but he ranks not with Raphael who painted moral beauty while the former cared more to portray sensuous beauty.
Men do not need to be lulled into fantastic and sensuous dreaming. Art has a higher work than to deco-rate, furnish and be a mere toy - it must elevate and inspire. Mankind should be more than pleased and amused by art creations - must be awakened and stimulated to noble endeavor, and serious thought and activity. Art should rouse the soul, warn the heedless, alarm the guilty, and with its bugle-blast and reveille, waken men to the strife against evil, like " the warnote of Lochiel, which stirs the memory of a thousand years."