Art: For Whom and For What?
As the title suggests, we are here addressing the most fundamental questions: Who is man? What is art? What is the bond that unites man, nature and art? The argument at the heart of this book is that what should be common to all men and women—a natural affinity with the sacred that holds out the promise of spiritual experience in everyday life—is in fact made all but impossible by the very nature of modern society. For what the modern world has set in place is nothing other than a pattern of life that prevents us from being what we truly are. The destruction of man that is part and parcel of the scientific, industrial view of our destiny cannot do otherwise than in turn destroy those values and meanings that have always been the bedrock of normal human existence. At a time when the inadequacy of modernism has become apparent, the author returns to the challenge of the English radical tradition of thought (Blake, Cobbett, Carlyle, Ruskin, Morris, Gill, and others), with its critique of the industrial—now post-industrial—way of life. Through a series of highly original studies of several major English artists and craftsman, and by addressing key themes that relate to the spiritual, cultural, and environmental crisis that now confronts us, the author offers a positive development of the radical perspective. Can modern man survive the process of self-mutilation he has embarked upon? In this unique study of our present predicament, the author suggests we cannot do so by turning our back on the perennial wisdom that has always informed the wisest philosophies of life, with their intuition of the sacred nature of reality.
Table of Contents
Introduction—Art: For Whom and For What?—Man and Nature as Polarities of the Sacred—Samuel Palmer's Vision of Nature—Of Punishments and Ruins—Work and the Sacred—Eric Gill's Radical Critique of Industry—David Jones's View of Art—Are the Crafts an Anachronism?—Michael Cardew: The Potter as Primordial Maker