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Since Cézanne
written by "Bell, Clive, 1881-1964"
...nterest for all active-minded people; whereas, seen merely as an artist, which is how he must be seen if he is to be seen in the tradition, he is of interest only to those who care for art. The significant characteristics of an artist, considered as the representative of a movement, are those in which he differs most from other artists; set him in the traditions and his one important characteristic is the one he shares with all—his being an artist. In the tradition a work of art loses its value as a means. We must contemplate it as an end—as a direct means to sthetic emotion rather—or let it be. Tradition, in fact, has to do with art alone; while with movements can be mixed up history, archology, philosophy, politics, geography, fashions, religion, and crime. So, by insisting on the fact that Matisse, Czanne, Poussin, Piero, and Giotto are all in the tradition we insist on the fact that they are all artists. We rob them of their amusing but adscititious qualities; we make them utterly uninteresting to precisely 99.99 per cent. of our fellow-creatures; and ourselves we make unpopular. The tradition of art begins with the first artist that ever lived, and will end with the last. Always it is being enriched or modified—never is it exhausted. The earliest artists are driven to creation by an irresistible desire to express themselves. Their over-bubbling minds supply abundance of matter; difficulties begin when they try to express it. Then it is they find themselves confronted by those terrible limitations of the human mind, and by other limitations, only less terrible, imposed by the medium in which they work. Every genuine artist—every artist, that is, with something of his own to say—is faced afresh by the problem, and must solve it for himself. Nevertheless, each one who succeeds in creating an appropriate form for his peculiar experience leaves in that form a record, and from the sum...

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