Kenyon Cox painting, Cornish, New Hampshire , circa 1896
I am forever doing research on the artists whose works I have managed to obtain. There is always a story beyond that paper and paint and an artistic life to be experienced and appreciated. Whenever I run across a reference book that will help round out my knowledge of a particular artist or subject, I grab it. I received a box of books from Amazon.com the other day and one of those volumes I received was a biography of Kenyon Cox (that's him standing in the image book cover below). For me Kenyon Cox exemplifies the quintessential qualities of Academic Art. During his time he was an outspoken champion of traditional art. This simple fact makes him my hero. I can't tell you the number of heated discussions I got into with my fellow painters during my courses at the University about what art, and your art in particular, should entail. I insisted your art should uplift and enlighten but was always shouted down by those who insisted it should reflect the inner you. I guess I am not part of the me-generation. My grandmother would have knocked me into the next county if I had tried that "me" business on her. Cox always used his writings to express his conservative views about art and went on to become a proponent of conventional ideals. In his view, something that gives voice to my own views about art, good art should be based upon simplicity of design, solid craftsmanship, an ideal and accurate rendering of the human form, and, of course, a knowledge of Art History. For good reason, in my opinion, later in his career he lead the vilification of modern art movements. Call me old and old fashioned, but there it is, out on the table, like it or not. As I read this book I am sure it will put voice to my own outlook and, of course, I will share those ideas with you in the course of future posts. Oh, to have been one of those eager students in that 1900 class above. Oh, to have studied at the guiding hand of a master. Oh, well, perhaps on the next go-a-round of the big wheel.
Author: H. Wayne Morgan
Call Number: ND237.C8M87 1994