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The Art Spirit: Notes, Articles, Fragments of Letters and Talks to Students, Bearing on the Concept and Technique of Picture Making, the Study of Art (Icon Editions)

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In this book are the essential beliefs and theories of a great teacher and American artist, Robert Henri. While it embodies the entire system of his teaching, with much technical advice and critical comment for the student, it also contains inspiration for those to whom the happiness to be found through all the arts is important.No other American painter attracted such a l In this book are the essential beliefs and theories of a great teacher and American artist, Robert Henri. While it embodies the entire system of his teaching, with much technical advice and critical comment for the student, it also contains inspiration for those to whom the happiness to be found through all the arts is important.No other American painter attracted such a large, intensely personal group of followers as Henri, whose death in 1929 brought to an end a life that has been completely devoted to art. He was an inspired artist and teacher who believed that everyone is vitally concerned in the happiness and wisdom to be found through the arts. Many of his paintings have been acquired by museums and private collectors. Among them are the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Wichita Art Museum, and Yale University Art Gallery.


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In this book are the essential beliefs and theories of a great teacher and American artist, Robert Henri. While it embodies the entire system of his teaching, with much technical advice and critical comment for the student, it also contains inspiration for those to whom the happiness to be found through all the arts is important.No other American painter attracted such a l In this book are the essential beliefs and theories of a great teacher and American artist, Robert Henri. While it embodies the entire system of his teaching, with much technical advice and critical comment for the student, it also contains inspiration for those to whom the happiness to be found through all the arts is important.No other American painter attracted such a large, intensely personal group of followers as Henri, whose death in 1929 brought to an end a life that has been completely devoted to art. He was an inspired artist and teacher who believed that everyone is vitally concerned in the happiness and wisdom to be found through the arts. Many of his paintings have been acquired by museums and private collectors. Among them are the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Wichita Art Museum, and Yale University Art Gallery.

30 review for The Art Spirit: Notes, Articles, Fragments of Letters and Talks to Students, Bearing on the Concept and Technique of Picture Making, the Study of Art (Icon Editions)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kirbi

    This photo says it better than I ever could.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    Loved it! Here's what I wrote in my blog about it... There are so many bits of wisdom in Robert Henri's The Art Spirit that it's hard to know what to share. (I have "wow" and "cool" and "neat" written in red letters in the margins of just about every page...) But perhaps this is the most important thing--Robert Henri talks about creating art as the one "true happiness" in life. "A man must become expressive before he can be happy," he writes (the italics are mine.) Henri stresses, again and again Loved it! Here's what I wrote in my blog about it... There are so many bits of wisdom in Robert Henri's The Art Spirit that it's hard to know what to share. (I have "wow" and "cool" and "neat" written in red letters in the margins of just about every page...) But perhaps this is the most important thing--Robert Henri talks about creating art as the one "true happiness" in life. "A man must become expressive before he can be happy," he writes (the italics are mine.) Henri stresses, again and again, that we are all artists, or at least, we all have that capacity. The urge to create is innate. We all have the capacity to experience, to see, to feel, to care. Making art is about caring, he says. It seems that we get hung about art and "who" is an artist. (Maybe this started in high school, when we were either assigned to the "science track" or the "art track." Some silly bureaucratic proceduralism occurred, and we were subsequently scarred for life.) It doesn't have to be painting, sculpture, or music--anything can be a form of art if we are expressing something that's unique and meaningful to us. There are many forms of expression in life. For me, teaching is a form of expression. It's simply about being open to the world, noticing what we love, and expressing that love in whatever form best suits us. The technique is secondary to the expression. Henri defines artistic expression broadly, as a "giving back" to the world. Letting something speak to you, and sharing your expression of that thing with others. It's not about the product, it's about being in that space of open sensitivity that makes art inevitable. It's like we have to create because we're so moved by whatever we've seen. Have you noticed that? When you're open to the world and beauty is streaming in all around you, the poem, the drawing, the music, happen spontaneously? We're moved by the wonder of it all. I also have two additional blog posts about this book that I won't copy over here. If you're interested, here they are: Robert Henri's Thoughts on Painting a Child and Robert Henri and the Art Spirit

  3. 4 out of 5

    Yoby

    I can't do justice to this book, so won't try. Only thing I will say is that my copy is held together by rubber-bands.

  4. 4 out of 5

    I. Merey

    I did not tear through this book, but savored it. Slowly, over a few weeks. 10-20 pages at a time. I think any artist or creative person at any stage of their development can benefit from Henri, but I recommend this most for any aspiring, emerging or self-taught artist out there who could use a light in the dark. What is our personal style and where does it come from? What is the appropriate balance of technique versus 'spirit', for lack of a better term? How can we best unlock the expression wit I did not tear through this book, but savored it. Slowly, over a few weeks. 10-20 pages at a time. I think any artist or creative person at any stage of their development can benefit from Henri, but I recommend this most for any aspiring, emerging or self-taught artist out there who could use a light in the dark. What is our personal style and where does it come from? What is the appropriate balance of technique versus 'spirit', for lack of a better term? How can we best unlock the expression within? I've wrestled with these and similar questions often on my own path and finding Henri was like falling into someone's arms after a very grueling struggle. He pats you on the back and whispers "Shh shhh, it's going to be okay," and you think, yes. It will be.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jose

    The title of the book is quite accurate. "The Art Spirit" deals with the inner drive of the artist and the pitfalls of art making. Probably the most quotable art book I've ever read, almost every page has some bumper sticker wisdom to dispense, all of it quite remarkable. It can get quite recitative in parts and it is very much a product of it's time in it's ambition. But, as a figurative artist, I find every art student should read it at least once. The main idea of the book isn't groundbreaki The title of the book is quite accurate. "The Art Spirit" deals with the inner drive of the artist and the pitfalls of art making. Probably the most quotable art book I've ever read, almost every page has some bumper sticker wisdom to dispense, all of it quite remarkable. It can get quite recitative in parts and it is very much a product of it's time in it's ambition. But, as a figurative artist, I find every art student should read it at least once. The main idea of the book isn't groundbreaking but it bears repeating: art is hard work that must be done by those who can't help it. Once you believe art is your thing, there are states of mind conducive to genius and others that strive for imitation and avoidance. Sacrifice will be necessary, social and economic success might ellude one and an indepence of thought will be essential.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jeannine

    Here's a quote from The Art Spirit: I once met a man who told me that I always had an exaggerated idea of things. He said, "Look at me, I am never excited." I looked at him and he was not exciting. For once I did not over-appreciate." Book includes philosophy of art and appreciation, concrete how-to instructions, and comments of famous artists and works of art.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ed Patterson

    Amazing to read. It fills the well.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    I did a lot of drawing as a child and a young adult—portraits of children mostly. As I aged, my passion for art and the lives of artists increased, yet I kept dropping out of studio art classes as quickly as I enrolled. This book helped me understand why: Though restless to get started, I had nothing to say that compelled expression, and consequently felt on shaky ground. As Henri points out, “We are not here to do what already has been done…An interest in the subject, something you want to say I did a lot of drawing as a child and a young adult—portraits of children mostly. As I aged, my passion for art and the lives of artists increased, yet I kept dropping out of studio art classes as quickly as I enrolled. This book helped me understand why: Though restless to get started, I had nothing to say that compelled expression, and consequently felt on shaky ground. As Henri points out, “We are not here to do what already has been done…An interest in the subject, something you want to say definitely about the subject; this is the first condition of a portrait… the work is done when that special thing has been said.” Caricaturists seem to understand this innately; they hone in on a feature or gesture of their subject that gives voice to the character and temperament of its owner, as the artist sees it. Just as everything is subordinate to the idea you, as an artist, need to express, so should “the mass of the head… be considered as principle to any feature of the head… When expressing the feature, consider well its part in relation to the idea you have to express.” Economy and gesture are other principles: “It will not be so much a question of painting that nose as it will be painting the expression of that nose.” (Alice Neel comes to mind.) Some of the most intriguing passages in this book concern solidity: “… the employment of bulk as a factor of expression… The weight and density of the sea. The bulk and hard resistance of rock… A blouse with a body in it. A head with a back to it.” Henri tells us how hard solidity is to achieve: “We are very appreciative of the solid. Yet most paintings and most drawing produce the impression of flatness. Distances across the canvas are generally very nearly correct, but distance in, following the line of vision, hardly exists.” Distance in—what a beautiful concept, especially when applied to portraiture. It explains why I found Jamie Wyeth’s graphite drawing of Ted Kennedy (on view at a recent exhibit at the Brandywine River Museum in PA) so magnificent: “It’s a question of the life within.”

  9. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    Writers should never forget that fiction is an art form. Henri speaks to the artist inside us all.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Fack You

    This book has changed me as an artist and as a human being. It really opened my mind to what art really is and how to be in that mysterious spiritual space that makes ART inevitable. It's not just for artists though! It talks a lot about spirituality and human beings in general and how every human being can be an artist- it's not always expressed through the painting, drawing, the works. It is a way of life, a way of knowing yourself as an individual, and a way of loving yourself the way you are This book has changed me as an artist and as a human being. It really opened my mind to what art really is and how to be in that mysterious spiritual space that makes ART inevitable. It's not just for artists though! It talks a lot about spirituality and human beings in general and how every human being can be an artist- it's not always expressed through the painting, drawing, the works. It is a way of life, a way of knowing yourself as an individual, and a way of loving yourself the way you are. Excellent book for students, whether they're students of art, or students of life. Can't believe Robert Henri talked about all this over 100 years ago, and it's still incredibly relevant. Must be true art!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ilina Dimitrova

    Great book, an absolute must-read for anyone starting a new venture, going through a transition, or looking to build something bigger than themselves.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    Notes: Colors - H.G. Maretta (book) - Cool Colors + Warm Colors - Grave Colors + Bright Colors Adjectives: Rich - Full - Alive - Generous - Icy - Cold - Shallow - Placid - Indolence - Fearsome - Brittle - Timid - Voluptuous - Caress - Fullness - Evasive - Puritanical - Vital - Flow - Vigor - Illusiveness Quotes: "Understand that in no work will you find the final word, nor will you find a receipt that will just fit you. The fun of living is that we have to make ourselves after all." Pg. 60 "The man who Notes: Colors - H.G. Maretta (book) - Cool Colors + Warm Colors - Grave Colors + Bright Colors Adjectives: Rich - Full - Alive - Generous - Icy - Cold - Shallow - Placid - Indolence - Fearsome - Brittle - Timid - Voluptuous - Caress - Fullness - Evasive - Puritanical - Vital - Flow - Vigor - Illusiveness Quotes: "Understand that in no work will you find the final word, nor will you find a receipt that will just fit you. The fun of living is that we have to make ourselves after all." Pg. 60 "The man who has honesty, integrity, the love of inquiry, the desire to see beyond, is ready to appreciate art. He needs no one to give him an art education; he is already qualified. He needs but to see pictures with his active mind, look into them for the things that belong to him..." Pg. 66 "The work of art is a result; is the output of a progress in development and stands as a record and marks the degree of development. It is not an end in itself, but the work indicates the course taken and progress made. The work is not a fidelity. It is the impress of those who live in a full play of their faculties. The individual passes, living his life, and the things he touches receive his kind of impress, and they afterwards bear the trace of his passing. They give evidence of the quality of his growth." - Pg. 67 "Strokes carry a message whether you will it or not. The stroke is just like the artist at the time he makes it. All the certainties, all the uncertainties, all the bigness of his spirit it and all the littleness are in it." Pg. 71 "Beauty is no material thing. Beauty cannot be copied. Beauty is the sensation of pleasure on the mind of the see. No thing is beautiful. But all things await the sensitive and imaginative mind that may be aroused to pleasurable emotion at sight of them. This is beauty." Pg. 79 "Every individual should study his own individuality to the end of knowing his tastes. Should cultivate the pleasures so discovered and find the most direct means of expressing those pleasures to others, thereby enjoying them over again. Art often all is but an extension of the expression of sensations too subtle for words." Pg. 87 "See without limits." "All outward success, when it has value, is but the inevitable result of an inward success of full living, full play and enjoying of one's faculties." Pg. 93 "The value of a school should be in the meeting of students." "The true artist regards his work as a means of talking with men, of saying his say to himself and others." Pg. 97 "Age need not destroy beauty. There are people who grow more beautiful as they grow older. If age means to them an expansion and development of character this new mental and spiritual state will have its effect on the physical. A face which in the early days was only pretty or even dull, will be transformed." Pg. 123 "You can do anything you want to do. What is rare is this actual wanting to do a specific thing. Wanting it so much that you are practically blind to all other things. That nothing else will satisfy you when you, body and soul, wish to make a certain expression and canned be distracted from this desire then you will be able to make great use of whatever technical knowledge you have. You will have clairvoyance, you will see the uses of the technique you already have, and you will invent more." Pg. 125 The pursuit of happiness is a great activity. one must be open and alive. it is the greatest feat a man has to accomplish, and spirits must flow. There must be courage. There are no easy ruts to get into which lead to happiness. A man must become interesting to himself. And most become actually expressive before he can be happy." Pg. 141 "Each genius differs only from the mass in that he has found freedom for his greatness; the greatness is everywhere, in every man, in every child. What our civilization is busy doing, mainly, is smothering greatness. It is a strange anomaly; we destroy what we love and we reverence what we destroy" Pg. 146 "An artist must first of all respond to his subject. He must be filled with emotion toward that subject and then he must make his technique so sincere, so translucent that it may be forgotten, the vale of the subject shining through." Pg. 148 "To hold the spirit of greatness is in my mind what the world was created for. The human body is beautiful as the spirit shines through, and art is great as it translates and embodies this spirit." Pg. 148 "These are my people and all that I have I owe to them." Pg. 152 "Much can be done with little." "We are troubled by having two selves, the inner and the outer. The outer is rather dull and lets great things go by." "I am not interested in art as a means of making a living, but I am interested in art as a means of living a life." Pg. 158 "The reasons so many artists have lived to a great age and have been so young at great age is that to such extent they have lived living, whereas most people live dying." Pg. 160 "Like to do what your work as much as a dog likes to gnaw a bone and go at it with equal interest and exclusion of everything else." Pg. 167 "Self-education is an effort to free one's course so that a full growth may become. Give your throat a chance to sing its song. All the knowledge in the world to which you have access is yours to use. Give yourself plenty of canvas room plenty of paint room. Don't bother about your originality, set yourself just as free as you can and your originality will take care of you. It will be as much a surprise to you as to anyone else. Originality cannot be preconceived and any effort to coddle it is to preconceive it, and thereby destroy it. Learn all you can, get all the information that is within your reach about the ways and means of paint." Pg. 176 "Educate yourself, do not let me educate you- use me, do not be used by me." Pg 176 "Those who have lived and grown at least to some degree in the spirit of freedom are our creative artists. They have a wonderful time. They keep the world going. They must leave their trace in some way, paint, strobe, machinery, whatever. The importance of what they do is greater than anyone estimates at the time. In face in a commercial world there are thousands of lives wasted doing things not worth doing. Human spirit is scarified. More and more things are produced without a will in the creation, and are consumed or "used" without a will in the consumption or the using." - Pg. 177 "Of course it is not easy to go one's road. Because of our education we continually get off our track, but the fight is a good one and there is joy in it if there is any success at all. After al, the goal is not making art. It is living a life. Those who live their lives will leave the stuff that is really art. Art is a result. It is the trace of those who have led their lives. It is interesting to use because we read the struggle and the degree of success the man made in his struggle to live. The great quest is, " What is worth while?" The majority of people have failed to ask themselves seriously enough, and have failed to try seriously enough to answer this question." Pg. 198 "The most beautiful life possible. wherein there is no sordidness, is only attainable by effort. To be free, to be happy and fruitful, can only be attained through sacrifice of many common but overestimated things." Pg 2006 "Real students go out of beaten paths. Whether beaten by themselves or by others and have adventures with the unknown." Pg. 213 "To be an artist is to construct." Pg. 221 "The artist is the man who leaves the crowd and goes pioneering. With him there is an idea which is his life." Pg 263 "A work of art is the trace of a magnificent struggle." Pg. 271

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ginny

    Robert Henri, leading American artist and teacher. One of my favorite books about the art of teaching art.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Zakee

    when man's acknowledgement of his true identity and substance, man will creatively discover what has been with him all along and be elightened as a result

  15. 4 out of 5

    Peter Malmquist

    it was good.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mike Zickar

    This is a really important book in the history of American art history, and one that can be read with profit and relish by artists, art historians, or people just like me art fans. Robert Henri was a wonderful artist whose impact on American art is most felt by the work of his many illustrious students, including Edward Hopper, George Bellows, Rockwell Kent, Stuart Davis, as well as many female students who should be better known but faced discrimination in the early 1900s by sexist art critics. This is a really important book in the history of American art history, and one that can be read with profit and relish by artists, art historians, or people just like me art fans. Robert Henri was a wonderful artist whose impact on American art is most felt by the work of his many illustrious students, including Edward Hopper, George Bellows, Rockwell Kent, Stuart Davis, as well as many female students who should be better known but faced discrimination in the early 1900s by sexist art critics. This book is a hodgepodge of writings compiled by one of Henri's students (Margery Ryerson). The book includes lectures, articles, letters, and student criticisms. I think the diverse range of content can be off-putting at times, but by the end of the book, it is quite charming. Topics include quite technical advice on painting, drawing and color theory (less appealing to those of us who are non-artists), his thoughts on education, his evaluation of other artists, and his advice for how we should appreciate art. What was most inspiring to me was how Henri communicates his advice to students. He embodies a warm open-mindedness along with an enthusiasm for life that seems most similar in my mind to Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass (Henri was a big fan of his work) as well as Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet. Highly recommended, highly inspiring!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    Robert Henri created the bible for any and every artist out there, it's called 'The Art Spirit.' If you're a painter, actor, musician, director, writer... this book was written for you. It's the greatest manual for creators ever written where you're being led by possibly the most genuine artist that has ever walked the Earth. Robert Henri is not only the quintessential master of the arts, but he's also an incredible teacher. He knows how to speak, how to teach, how to present himself. But most i Robert Henri created the bible for any and every artist out there, it's called 'The Art Spirit.' If you're a painter, actor, musician, director, writer... this book was written for you. It's the greatest manual for creators ever written where you're being led by possibly the most genuine artist that has ever walked the Earth. Robert Henri is not only the quintessential master of the arts, but he's also an incredible teacher. He knows how to speak, how to teach, how to present himself. But most importantly, he knows how to LEARN. No advice in this book is what you MUST follow and do. What you get here is a guideline, something to go by and adjust it for yourself as you go along the path of being an artist. That's what Robert Henri has taught us. That's what he keeps saying all the way throughout the book. This man did not know what a God Complex is, a condition that majority of current teachers suffer from. I really can't say enough about this book, nor should I. If you relate to any type of art form, simply read it. And read it actively. Find ways to relate and understand. Use your imagination all the way through, because "an artist who does not use his imagination is a mechanic."

  18. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    My interest is photography and so I read it looking for education in composition. Boy, was I not disappointed. The Art Spirit was written in 1923, the result of putting together various documents by Henri and his students. Henri provided me so many useful quotes that he overwhelms my list of quotes. Such as "There are always a few who get at and feel the undercurrent, and these simply use the surface appearances selecting them and using them as tools to express the undercurrent, the real life" a My interest is photography and so I read it looking for education in composition. Boy, was I not disappointed. The Art Spirit was written in 1923, the result of putting together various documents by Henri and his students. Henri provided me so many useful quotes that he overwhelms my list of quotes. Such as "There are always a few who get at and feel the undercurrent, and these simply use the surface appearances selecting them and using them as tools to express the undercurrent, the real life" and "A landscape has got to mean a great deal to anyone before it can be painted in any worthwhile way. It is harder to see a landscape than to paint it." And, "develop your power of seeing through the effort and pleasure of seeing." And, "Don't ask for criticism until you are sure you can't give it yourself. Then you will be in a fine state to receive it." I see no better way to review it.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Elliot

    Although this book is officially categorized as art theory or criticism it is not nearly as dull as the label implies. I found Henri to be an engaging writer and a very lucid one. Much of what is hear is widely applicable to life, and not just painting etc, and I came to see this more as a work of philosophy. Henri deals with how to foster meaningful interactions with the world we live in. There is a lot of wisdom in here and my copy is worn and marked in my attempt to capture it all. One of the Although this book is officially categorized as art theory or criticism it is not nearly as dull as the label implies. I found Henri to be an engaging writer and a very lucid one. Much of what is hear is widely applicable to life, and not just painting etc, and I came to see this more as a work of philosophy. Henri deals with how to foster meaningful interactions with the world we live in. There is a lot of wisdom in here and my copy is worn and marked in my attempt to capture it all. One of the best pieces of non-fiction I have ever read.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Chadwick

    I bought this book after reading an interview with David Lynch in which he said something to the effect that this was his bible as a teenager... a lot of the book has to do directly with painting technique (I'm not a painter), but a lot of it is more generally philosophical about art, appreciation, and the "art life" in general. I really liked it.

  21. 5 out of 5

    David Champ

    I found so many things in this book. I have a strong feeling that I will be returning to this in the future to refresh the feeling that I got from it every time I sat down to read a few pages. Definitely worth picking up if you have the urge to be creative.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mary Anne

    Soo-o-o much valuable information by a wonderful teacher.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Alasdair Ekpenyong

    Imagine Ezra Pound's "Guide to Kulchur" written specifically for a young artist.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    I learned about The Art Spirit from David Lynch. In a documentary Lynch describes reading this book when he was just starting out. He considered it a guide to living the ideal "art life" wherein one paints all day, hangs out with likeminded friends, and drinks coffee. Robert Henri (1865-1929) was a painter, and much of his advice is technical, intended for his students as they went about mixing colors and making brushstrokes. But Henri emphasizes that everyone has the potential to be an artist in I learned about The Art Spirit from David Lynch. In a documentary Lynch describes reading this book when he was just starting out. He considered it a guide to living the ideal "art life" wherein one paints all day, hangs out with likeminded friends, and drinks coffee. Robert Henri (1865-1929) was a painter, and much of his advice is technical, intended for his students as they went about mixing colors and making brushstrokes. But Henri emphasizes that everyone has the potential to be an artist in their own field of endeavor, and he offers many aphoristic nuggets of wisdom that could be applicable to anyone. Henri believed that society would be continually improved as more and more people realized their artistic potential, shared their special insights, and gloried in the beauty of life. Such optimism may seem a bit old-fashioned, but there is something quite pleasant about it. A few favorite quotes: "Why do we love the sea? It is because it has some potent power to make us think things we like to think." (82) "Don't be ashamed to keep your bad stuff. After all you did it. It is your history and worth studying. Shame makes a small man give up a lot of time smearing over and covering up his rough edges." (179) "In America, or in any country, greatness in art will not be attained by the possession of canvases in palatial museums, by the purchase and bodily owning of art. The greatness can only come by the art spirit entering into the very life of the people, not as a thing apart, but as the greatest essential of life to each one. It is to make every life productive of light -- a spiritual influence. It is to enter government and the whole material existence as the essential influence, and it alone will keep government straight, end wars and strife; do away with material greed." (188-9) "All kinds of critics, professional, artist, student, and lay critics are prone to bring with them their preconceived ideas. Many of them are outraged if they do not find what they expect. Such people want peace -- they want no new sensations, and they want nothing that is hard to get." (192) "Do not let the fact that things are not made for you, that conditions are not as they should be, stop you. Go on anyway. Everything depends on those who go on anyway." (214)

  25. 5 out of 5

    Robert A.

    This book consists of the personal philosophy of Robert Henri, a painter and teacher, from a mass of compiled from notes, articles, letters, and fragments. The author gives some technical advice and some notes on appreciation of art. I do appreciate the view of the work that art is something that comes from the artist via their emotional take on their subject filtered through their medium and marked as individual through their technique. It also has some good basic technical advice which amounts This book consists of the personal philosophy of Robert Henri, a painter and teacher, from a mass of compiled from notes, articles, letters, and fragments. The author gives some technical advice and some notes on appreciation of art. I do appreciate the view of the work that art is something that comes from the artist via their emotional take on their subject filtered through their medium and marked as individual through their technique. It also has some good basic technical advice which amounts to keep it simple, focus on the basic components (background, the masses of the subject), and fill in the details after the basics are down. It does contain alot of little tidbits and explanations of Henri's philosophical attitudes mostly mixed in with his technical advice and critiques. An attitude I wholeheartedly agree with presented in the book is that money is not art, the artist needs a deeper motive to create than only to make money. There are also several gems such as this: "Real students go out of beaten paths, whether beaten by themselves or others, and have adventure with the unknown." [pg.165] Henri also believes that making art is key to a happy life and a road to the true appreciation of life as a sort of spiritual discipline. Statements to this effect are peppered throughout. There is no real structure to the book other than the bits and chunks are gathered together that share a similar subject which I found a little odd especially the lack of chapters. However, I would suggest this book to those who are looking for an extra little push in their art or those artists looking for a useful mantra.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Castles

    I liked this book very much. There are some good pieces of advice here, written over letters and critics notes with a bit scattered quality to it. In that sense, it’s not a regular book but fragments of his lessons and letters. It’s sometimes repetitive but even when so, you can still find new and deeper angles to his philosophy. I also liked very much some of his zen-like insights which seem to appear out of nowhere in a middle of a paragraph. A specific point I liked very much is his way of sa I liked this book very much. There are some good pieces of advice here, written over letters and critics notes with a bit scattered quality to it. In that sense, it’s not a regular book but fragments of his lessons and letters. It’s sometimes repetitive but even when so, you can still find new and deeper angles to his philosophy. I also liked very much some of his zen-like insights which seem to appear out of nowhere in a middle of a paragraph. A specific point I liked very much is his way of saying you should always learn, be like a child and never be a “finished” person. His writing is full of passion and joy to art and life. adding to this his natural talent to educate, and his goal to produce honest art, What can you not like about that? Is he naive or too romantic? Well maybe, but that’s only because we as a society grew cynical. One must remember that we’re dealing here with a pre ww2 human being, and pre postmodernism artist. On the contrary, his joy and passion he finds in life and art are contagious and beautiful. I’m looking forward to applying some of his tips into my drawings and perhaps to come back to his insights to learn from them again and again.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Seng Wee Wong

    This book is written in a form similar to a letter to the author's students. Some parts of the book are mildly confusing. Perhaps it is due to my lack of artistic knowledge. Content wise the book is full of abstract idea and from what I read I am guessing the author is trying to convey an attitude to his students. Although the book name is "The Art Spirit", the author mainly talks about painting and drawing and less of other forms of art. The author died long time ago so it shouldn't be surprisi This book is written in a form similar to a letter to the author's students. Some parts of the book are mildly confusing. Perhaps it is due to my lack of artistic knowledge. Content wise the book is full of abstract idea and from what I read I am guessing the author is trying to convey an attitude to his students. Although the book name is "The Art Spirit", the author mainly talks about painting and drawing and less of other forms of art. The author died long time ago so it shouldn't be surprising. Not yet an artistic kind of person and not my kind of book. Good luck with it.

  28. 4 out of 5

    B. Jean

    I would say this is primarily for painters. I expected a book that had lecture that would pertain to more fields, but as Robert Henri was a painter, thus it was all about painting. (And how painting is superior to everything.) There were some bits that could be applied to all fields, but those read more like an inspirational novel. The descriptions of the paintings in the letters of critique are very dull.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

    This is when star ratings are useless. Did I read this in one sit? No. Was it unputdownable? No. Amazing narrative and yada yada? LOL! No. Was it an amazing book? YES *_* it made my brain hurt and had to restrain myself from procrastinating several times. I didn't enjoy the experience of reading it, but I fell in love with what Robert Henri had to say. It resonated within me. Not everything, nuh uh, and those parts where 10 times harder to read. It felt like going on a car trip: everyone told yo This is when star ratings are useless. Did I read this in one sit? No. Was it unputdownable? No. Amazing narrative and yada yada? LOL! No. Was it an amazing book? YES *_* it made my brain hurt and had to restrain myself from procrastinating several times. I didn't enjoy the experience of reading it, but I fell in love with what Robert Henri had to say. It resonated within me. Not everything, nuh uh, and those parts where 10 times harder to read. It felt like going on a car trip: everyone told you it would be a superb experience, but from the beginning the road was in bad condition and you bounced off your seat the whole trip. There was no road signs and you got lost soooo many times that you almost felt like giving up. But despite a sore back and a bad headache you admit that the view was awesome, it was one of a kind experience and had the best sunset you have seen in your entire life. This book is a compilation of letters and notes, even the foreword says "No effort has been made toward the form of a regular book". Yep, I noticed, my bad, i tried to read it as a book. My advice would be to read it like those books with inspirational quotes. Just read a chunk and get your artistic inspiration of the day. Too bad it doesn't have an index (even if the foreword says there is one at the end >-> there is none) so, you have no clue what he will be talking about in each chunk. It is highly philosophical, abstract and focuses mainly on concepts. It will inspire you if you are already following an artistic path and bore you to death if your artistic background consists only of "how to draw manga in easy steps" books. It does have practical and technical advice for figure drawing, use of colors and composition, but keep in mind that this is by no means meant to teach you anything practical, they are mainly letters and critiques given to art students. Some subjects he talks about: - What to pay attention to when drawing portraits. - Truly do art and not just copy what is in front of you. - Use techniques and medium to transmit that emotion you want to transmit. - Proper figure drawing. - Things to consider when using color. - Dont just follow what you are taught and never stop self-learning. - Paint the world as you see it and not as others wants to.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tara

    My favorite quotes from this one.. a bit challenging to read, although a lot of beautiful takeaways, and insights: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1A...

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