Page 87 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 18

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7 5
W
erner
— W
r it ings
o f
J
ew ish
A
rtists
a brief chapter on the development of Palestinian art, brief
biographies of living artists are given (facing each biography is a
work by the artist).
Essays on Ar t
Historically important are the
Essays on Art
(New York, 1916)
by the Expressionist, Max Weber (b. 1881), as they emphasize
originality and spontaneity in opposition to academic art. Weber,
who has also published poetry (
Cubists Poems,
London, 1914;
Primitives,
New York, 1926) in these pages emerges as a real
Hasid:
“The materialist asks of what use are art forms, and the
infidel asks of what use is prayer. Both ask the question to which
the dumb beasts find answer in the satisfaction of their hunger.
Art like faith cannot be explained away. It is the faith found
in feeling, the feeling that comes of an art consciousness, the
consciousness of spirit inherent in matter.”
In
An Approach to Modern Painting
(New York, 1948), an-
other modern artist, Morris Davidson, also upholds “that kind of
contemporary art that satisfies spiritual, not sentimental needs”
against “hackneyed forms” that appeal to millions “for any
number of reasons.” Davidson, widely known as a teacher, is
also the author of
The Understanding of Modern Art
(New
York, 1931) and
Painting for Pleasure
(Boston and New York,
1938).
The Shape of Content
(Cambridge, Mass., 1957) by Ben Shahn
(b. 1898) reprints the text of lectures he delivered at Harvard
University. Shahn is most outspoken in his likes and dislikes, but
what he considers as aberrations he views from the vantage point
of a philosophical mind, and with reference to time and place.
Written in the direct, unadorned manner in which the artist
draws and paints, it is one of the significant spiritual expressions
of our time. Shahn believes in developing a young person’s
individuality rather than in teaching him a particular style of
painting, for he writes:
“Style today is the shape of one’s specific meanings. It is de-
veloped with an aesthetic view and a set of intentions. I t is not
the how of painting but the why. To imitate or to teach style
alone would be a little like teaching a tone of voice or a per-
sonality.”