Thursday, November 14, 2013

In the following piece, Ruskin is critiquing the art of the world and how little is devoted to inspirational venues.

How far beneath these two ranks of men shall we place, in the scale of being, those whose pleasure is only in sin or in suffering; who habitually contemplate humanity in poverty or decrepitude, fury or sensuality; whose works are either temptations to its weakness, or triumphs over its ruin, and recognize no other subjects for thought or admiration than the subtlety of the robber, the rage of the soldier, or the joy of the person devoted only to luxury or pleasure. It seems strange, when thus definitely stated, that such a school should exist. Yet consider for a moment what gaps and blanks would disfigure our gallery and chamber walls, in places that we have long approached with reverence, if every picture, every statue, were removed from them, of which the subject was either the vice or the misery of mankind, portrayed without any moral purpose: consider the innumerable groups having reference merely to various forms of passion, low or high, drunken revels and brawls among peasants, gambling or fighting scenes among soldiers, illicit love affairs and intrigues among every class, brutal battle-pieces, outlaws, gluts of torture and death in famine, wreck, or slaughter, for the sake merely of the excitement, -- that quickening and easy influence of the dull spirit that cannot be gained for it but by bathing it in blood, afterward to wither back into stained and stiffened apathy; and then that whole vast false heaven of sensual passion, full of nymphs, satyrs, graces, goddesses, and I know not what, from its high seventh circle in Correggio’s Antiope, down to the Grecized ballet dancers and smirking Cupids of the Parisian upholsterer. Sweep away all this, remorselessly, and see how much art we should have left.” John Ruskin, painting of Jupiter and Antiope. 

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