I cannot go on to write here the whole book I intend to write some day on my

I cannot go on to write here the whole book i intend

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I cannot go on to write here the whole book I intend to write some day on my artistic beliefs. It suffices to sketch in general lines what is, and what I believe. I overthrow no idol, I negate no artist. I accept all works of art on the same grounds, as being manifestations of the human spirit. And they all interest me almost equally, they all have true beauty: life, life in its thousand expressions, ever changing, ever new. The ridiculous common standard is no more; criticism examines a work in itself and declares it great when it finds in it a powerful and original interpretation of reality; it then affirms that the Genesis of human creation has one page more, that an artist has been born who endows nature with a new spirit and new horizons. And our creation stretches from the past to the infinite future; every society will contribute its artists who will contribute their own personality. No system, no theory can contain life in its incessant productions. Our part, as judges of works of art, is thus limited to noting the expressions of temperaments, to examining them, to saying what there is in 8
010_Impressionism.doc them of supple and vigorous novelty. If necessary the philosophers will undertake to draw up the formulas. I want only to analyze facts, and works of art are simple facts. I have thus set the past aside, I have neither rule nor standard in my hands, I stand before the paintings of Edouard Manet as before new facts that I want to explain and comment. What strikes me first in these paintings, is a very delicate precision in the relation of color tones. Let me explain. Fruit is placed on a table and stand out against a gray background; between the fruit, according to their proximity to each other, the range of color values runs the whole gamut of tints. If you start from a point that is lighter than the real tonality you will have to follow a scale that grows ever lighter; contrariwise, if you start from a darker tonality. This, I believe, is called the law of values. In the modern school I know only Corot, Courbet, and Edouard Manet who have constantly obeyed this law in painting figures. Their works gain thereby a singular distinctness, great truth, and much charm. Usually, Edouard Manet starts from a tonality that is lighter than that in nature. His paintings are of a solid pallor, blond and luminous. The light falls white and wide, illuminating the objects with a bland brightness. There is not the slightest feeling of strain; the figures and the landscapes bathe in a sort of gay luminosity which fills the whole canvas. The next thing that strikes me is a necessary consequence of the exact observance of the law of values. The artist, faced with any subject, lets himself be guided by his eyes which perceive the subject in broad tones [of color] that control each other. A head leaning against a wall is only a more or less white spot against a more or less gray background; and the garment juxtaposed to the face becomes, for instance, a more or less blue spot placed beside the more or less white spot. Hence, a

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