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The Ministry of Art
     

The Ministry of Art

by Ralph Adams Cram
 
"So, in a sense, the artist stands as a minister in minor orders, and so his life and acts take hold of that sacramentalism that is the foundation of both the Church and the world; if he plays his part honestly and as one charged with duties and privileges, he may see the art to which he is sworn become once more, not only a great recorder of true civilization, but

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"So, in a sense, the artist stands as a minister in minor orders, and so his life and acts take hold of that sacramentalism that is the foundation of both the Church and the world; if he plays his part honestly and as one charged with duties and privileges, he may see the art to which he is sworn become once more, not only a great recorder of true civilization, but the surety of its eventual restoration." These are the closing words of Mr. Cram's preface to the collection of papers and addresses he has published under the title of the last essay, "The Ministry of Art," read before the American Church Congress, at Troy, New York. The others in their order are, "Art the Revealer," an address at the inauguration of Rice Institute, Texas; "The Philosophy of the Gothic Restoration," read before the Contemporary Club, Philadelphia; "The Place of the Fine Arts in Public Education," and "The Artist and The World," delivered at Commencement, Yale University School of Fine Arts; "The Craftsman and the Architect," an address at a convention of the American Federation of Arts; and "American University Architecture," read before the Royal Institute of British Architects. The titles of these papers, with their occasions, have a curious interest; for, had they been written for a series of Church Congresses, they could hardly have had a more sacerdotal tone; in almost all Mr. Cram appears as the "minister in minor orders" of his preface; safely in the pulpit he delivers himself, in that fluent English of which he is a master, of a number of fine things, and is also led into grievous error by that fatal gift.

"Art," saith the preacher, "is a mystery." And this phrase evokes a vision of the pale votaries, the smug priesthood of a monachal cult, remote, withdrawn from the joyous world of red blood and the sunshine that makes the clustered tapers burn with a rather sickly cast; and then-faint and far one hears the bull laugh of the burly abbot riding forth, perchance in his mail, to oversee the church he is building. Whatever else the men who built the fanes of the Middle Ages may have been, they were men and good builders first. And we may refuse to believe that to them art began with an upper-case letter or was a "mystery." To them, we may firmly believe, art was a good job well done, with plenty of sound ale at the day's end.

-Journal of the American Institute of Architects, Volume 2 [1914]

Product Details

BN ID:
2940029374561
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
259 KB

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justify such use I must hasten to disavow any reference to the teaching of art as this now obtains either in art schools or under university faculties of fine arts. It is, I admit, hard to conceive such teaching as being of necessity an integral part of any scheme of general education, however efficient it may be when viewed in the light of its own self-determined ends, and I should expect, from no source, endorsement of any argument for the universal necessity of an art education conceived on similar lines; but I plead for a higher, or at least broader, type of such teaching, because I try to place myself amongst those who set a higher estimate on art, conceiving it to be not an applied science or a branch of industrial training, or yet an extreme refinement of culture study, but simply an indispensable means toward the achievement of that which is the end and object of education, namely, the building of character. There were days, and I think they were very bad old days, when it was held that education should take no cognizance whatever of charac- , ter, of the making of sane, sound, honourable men and women, but only of mental trainingand mental discipline. Then it was said with grave assurance that it was not the province of public education to deal with religion, ethics, or morals, except from a strictly historical and conscientiously non-sectarian standpoint, and that the place for the teaching of those things was the Home spelled with very large capitals. After a while the compulsion of events forced a readjustment of judgments, and we became conscious of the fact that a combination of influences amongst them our very schools themselves had resulted in the production ofhomes where neither religion nor ethics was taught at all, and where conscious c...

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