Hopes and Fears for Art

By William Morris

Entry 8295


From: holdoffhunger [id: 1]


Revolt Library Anarchism Hopes and Fears for Art

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(1834 - 1896)

William Morris (24 March 1834 – 3 October 1896) was a British textile designer, poet, novelist, translator and socialist activist associated with the British Arts and Crafts Movement. He was a major contributor to the revival of traditional British textile arts and methods of production. His literary contributions helped to establish the modern fantasy genre, while he helped win acceptance of socialism in fin de siècle Great Britain. (From: Wikipedia.org.)


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Hopes and Fears for Art is a collection of talks given by William Morris towards the end of the 1870s, shortly before joining the Socialist Democratic Federation. The talks were first published as a book by Ellis and White in 1882, and were reissued in 1883, 1896, 1898, 1903, 1911, and 1919. This version is taken from the 1919 Longmans, Green and Co. 'Pocket Library' edition, originally prepared by David Price for Project Gutenberg, and converted to XHTML by Graham Seaman. Introduction by Graham Seaman, 21st April 2003... (From : Marxists.org.)

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Hereafter I hope in another lecture to have the pleasure of laying before you an historical survey of the lesser, or as they are called the Decorative Arts, and I must confess it would have been pleasanter to me to have begun my talk with you by entering at once upon the subject of the history of this great industry; but, as I have something to say in a third lecture about various matters connected with the practice of Decoration among ourselves in these days, I feel that I should be in a false position before you, and one that might lead to confusion, or overmuch explanation, if I did not let you know what I think on the nature and scope of these arts, on their condition at the present time, and their outlook in times to come. In doing this it is like enough that I shall say things with which you will very much disagree; I must ask you therefore from the outset to believe that whatever I may blame or whatever I may praise, I neither, when I think of what history has been, am incl... (From : Marxists.org.)

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'And the men of labor spent their strength in daily struggling for bread to maintain the vital strength they labor with: so living in a daily circulation of sorrow, living but to work, and working but to live, as if daily bread were the only end of a wearisome life, and a wearisome life the only occasion of daily bread.'--DANIEL DEFOE. I know that a large proportion of those here present are either already practicing the Fine Arts, or are being specially educated to that end, and I feel that I may be expected to address myself specially to these. But since it is not to be doubted that we are ALL met together because of the interest we take in what concerns these arts, I would rather address myself to you ALL as representing the public in general. Indeed, those of you who are specially studying Art could learn little of me that would be useful to yourselves only. You are already learning under competent masters-- most competent, I am glad to kn... (From : Marxists.org.)

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'--propter vitam vivendi perdere causas.'--Juvenal. I stand before you this evening weighted with a disadvantage that I did not feel last year;--I have little fresh to tell you; I can somewhat enlarge on what I said then; here and there I may make bold to give you a practical suggestion, or I may put what I have to say in a way which will be clearer to some of you perhaps; but my message is really the same as it was when I first had the pleasure of meeting you. It is true that if all were going smoothly with art, or at all events so smoothly that there were but a few malcontents in the world, you might listen with some pleasure, and perhaps advantage, to the talk of an old hand in the craft concerning ways of work, the snares that beset success, and the shortest road to it, to a tale of workshop receipts and the like: that would be a pleasant talk surely between friends and fellow-workmen; but it seems to me as if it were not for us as... (From : Marxists.org.)

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I have to-night to talk to you about certain things which my experience in my own craft has led me to notice, and which have bred in my mind something like a set of rules or maxims, which guide my practice. Every one who has followed a craft for long has such rules in his mind, and cannot help following them himself, and insisting on them practically in dealing with his pupils or workmen if he is in any degree a master; and when these rules, or if you will, impulses, are filling the minds and guiding the hands of many craftsmen at one time, they are busy forming a distinct school, and the art they represent is sure to be at least alive, however rude, timid, or lacking it may be; and the more imperious these rules are, the wider these impulses are spread, the more vigorously alive will be the art they produce; whereas in times when they are felt but lightly and rarely, when one man's maxims seem absurd or trivial to his brother craftsman, art is either sick or slumbering, or so thi... (From : Marxists.org.)

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'--the horrible doctrine that this universe is a Cockney Nightmare-- which no creature ought for a moment to believe or listen to.'-- THOMAS CARLYLE. The word Architecture has, I suppose, to most of you the meaning of the art of building nobly and ornamentally. Now I believe the practice of this art to be one of the most important things which man can turn his hand to, and the consideration of it to be worth the attention of serious people, not for an hour only, but for a good part of their lives, even though they may not have to do with it professionally. But, noble as that art is by itself, and though it is specially the art of civilization, it neither ever has existed nor never can exist alive and progressive by itself, but must cherish and be cherished by all the crafts whereby men make the things which they intend shall be beautiful, and shall last somewhat beyond the passing day. It is this union of the arts, mutually hel... (From : Marxists.org.)


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