Page:American Anthropologist NS vol. 1.djvu/36

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

painting, and with this same motive the master works of art are produced. All along the course of the history of painting, religious zeal is the potent motive for excellence.

This advance consists in the acquisition of perspective, when objects are placed in the painting in such manner as to show their relative position, and the three dimensions of space are recognized in the production of the work. Now conventional signs are no longer needed. In the stage anterior to this, perspective is conventional, as if a man should say, “I have painted two horses on the canvas, but this one must be considered as far away because it is put on the right side of the picture; things on the left must be considered as near by.” A great many devices for conventional perspective were invented by tribal men before they acquired the concept of true perspective.

We must here call attention to an important law of demotic evolution. Growth is made usually by minute increments. Rarely indeed is there a sudden outgrowth, but the increments of development are all made by men with a genius for the activity. Such a man is a leader in the arts. A multitude is led by one, so that demotic evolution is dependent very largely for its initiative on the few which the many learn by imitation. This law is observed not only in all the esthetic arts, but it rules throughout the whole realm of human activities. But initiative through the individual becomes demotic, because the many steps in advance which leaders make as minute increments of progress are consolidated through their adoption by the many. A leader must have a following or his leadership is in vain.

Chiaroscuro—In the fourth stage of culture still another element is added to painting. This is chiaroscuro, or the delicate recognition in painting of the effects of light and shade in the several hues of the work. This is the highest characteristic of art as conceived by the modern painter. The artist may succeed in all else, but if he fails in this it is failure indeed. It is the difference between the artist and the artisan.