“But all his works are signed with his dazzling soul . . . ”

“The duality of art is an invariable consequence of the duality of man.”

“He is a painter of the fleeting moment and of all that it suggests of the eternal.”

“Perhaps it was about that age [42] that M.G., obsessed by the world of images that filled his mind, plucked up courage to cast ink and colors on a sheet of white paper.”

“Curiosity may be considered the starting point of his genius.”

“But genius is no more than childhood recaptured at will, childhood equipped now with man’s physical means to express itself, and with the analytical mind that enables it to bring order into the sum of experience, involuntarily amassed.”

“To be away from home and yet to feel at home anywhere; to see the world, be at the very centre of the world, and yet to be unseen of the world, such are some of the minor pleasures of those independent, intense, and impartial spirits, who do not lend themselves easily to linguistic definitions.”

“The observer is a prince enjoying his incognito wherever he goes. The lover of life makes the whole world into his family . . . it is an ego athirst for the non-ego, and reflecting it at every moment in energies more vivid than life itself, always inconstant and fleeting.”

“M.G. will be the last to leave any lace where the departing glories of daylight linger, where poetry echoes, life pulsates, music sounds; any place where human passion offers a subject to his eye where natural man and conventional man reveal themselves in strange beauty.”

“‘Each one of us has surely enough genius to fill [the day] in the same way.’ No! Few men have the gift of seeing; fewer still the power to express themselves.”

Childlike perception: “in other words, a perceptiveness that is acute and magical by its very ingenuousness.”

“The perpetual correlation between what is called the soul and what is called the body is a quite satisfactory explanation of how what is material or emanates from the spiritual reflects and will always reflect the spiritual force it derives from.”

“Nearly all our originality comes from the stamp that time impresses upon our sensibility.”

“He began by looking at life, and only later did he contrive to learn how to express life.”

“He draws from memory, and not from the model.”

“Beyond the walls of their studios, what do they know? What do they like? What do they want to express?”

“They who regard it generally as a triumph if they can conceal their personalities. The contemplate so much that in the end they forget to feel and think.”

“For it is evident that systems of rhetoric and prosody are not arbitrarily invented forms of tyranny, but collections of rules demanded by the very structure of man’s spiritual being.”

“All the faculties of the human soul must be subordinated to the imagination, which puts them all under contribution at once.”

“But a great painter is of necessity a skillful painter, because a universal imagination comprises the understanding of all technical means and the desire to acquire them.”

“But that he should constantly perfect his natural gifts, that he should sharpen them with care, draw new effects from them, that he should himself drive his nature to the utmost, that is inevitable, inescapable, and praiseworthy. The principle feature of Delacroix’s genius is that it knows not decadence; it displays only progress.”

“The greater the degree of imagination, the surer must be the corresponding mastery of technique, if the latter is to keep pace with the former in its adventurous flights, and to conquer the difficulties imagination eagerly seeks.”

“More and more, as each day goes by, art is losing in self-respect, is prostrating itself before external reality, and the painter is becoming more and more inclined to paint, not what he dreams, but what he sees. And yet it is a happiness to dream, and it used to be an honor to express what one dreamed; but can one believe that the painter still knows what happiness is?”

 

Read The Painter of Modern Life by Charles Baudelaire.

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