Art does not reproduce what we see; art makes us see.
With new strength from my naturalistic etudes, I may dare to enter my prime realm of psychic improvisation again. Bound only very indirectly to an impression of nature, I may again attempt to give form to what burdens the soul. To note experiences that can turn themselves into linear compositions even in the blackest night. Here a new creative possibility has long since been awaiting me, which only my frustration resulting from isolation interfered with in the past. Working in this way, my real personality will express itself, will be able to emancipate itself into the greatest freedom.
For there is bound to be some common ground between layman and artist where mutual approach is possible and whence the artist no longer appears as a being totally apart. But, as a being, who like you, has been brought, unasked, into this world of variety, and where, like you, he must find his way for better or for worse. A being who differs from you only in that he is able to master life by the use of his own specific gifts; a being perhaps happier, than the man who has no means of creative expression and no chance of release through the creation of form. This modest advantage should be readily granted the artist. He has difficulties enough in other aspects.
I would like now to examine the dimensions of the object in a new light and so try to show how it is that the artist frequently arrives at what appears to be such an arbitrary 'deformation' of natural forms.
First, he does not attach such intense importance to natural form as do so many realist critics, because, for him, these final forms are not the real stuff of the process of natural creation. For he places more value on the powers which do the forming than on the final forms themselves.
He is, perhaps unintentionally, a philosopher, and if he does not, with the optimist, hold this world to be the best of all possible worlds, nor to be so bad that it is unfit to serve as a model, yet he says: "In its present shape it is not the only possible world."
Thus he surveys with penetrating eye the finished forms which nature places before him.
The deeper he looks, the more readily he can extend his view from the present to the past, the more deeply he is impressed by the one essential image of creation itself, as Genesis, rather than by the image of nature, the finished product.
Then he permits himself the thought that the process of creation can today hardly be complete and he sees the act of world creation stretching from the past to future. Genesis eternal!
He goes still further!
He says to himself, thinking of life around him: this world at one time looked different and, in the future, will look different again.
Then, flying off to the infinite, he thinks: it is very probable that, on other stars, creation has produced a completely different result.
Such mobility of thought on the process of natural creation is good training for creative work.
It has the power to move the artist fundmentally, and since he is himself mobile, he may be relied upon to maintain freedom of development of his own creative methods.
This being so, the artist must be forgiven if he regards the present state of outward appearances in his own particular world as accidentally fixed in time and space. And as altogether inadequate compared with his penetrating vision and intense depth of feeling.
And is it not true that even the small step of a glimpse through the microscope reveals to us images which we should deem fantastic and over-imaginative if we were to see them somewhere accidentally, and lacked the sense to understand them?
Your realist, however, coming across such an illustration in a sensational magazine, would exclaim in great indignation: "Is that supposed to be nature? I call it bad drawing."
Does then the artist concern himself with microscopy? History? Palaeontology?
Only for the purposes of comparison, only in the exercise of his mobility of mind. And not to provide a scientific check on the truth of nature.
Only in the sense of freedom.
In the sense of freedom, which does not lead to fixes phases of development, representing exactly what nature once was, or will be, or could be on another star (as perhaps may one day be proved).
But in the sense of a freedom which merely demands its rights, the right to develop, as great Nature herself develops.
From type to prototype.
Presumptuous is the artist who does not follow his road through to the end. But chosent are those artists who penetrate to the region of that secret place where primeval power nurtures all evolution.
There, where the power-house of all time and space - call it brain or heart of creation - activates every function; who is the artist who would not dwell there?
In the womb of nature, at the source of creation, where the secret key to all lies guarded.
But not all can enter. Each should follow where the pulse of his own heart leads.
So, in their time, the Impressionists - our opposites of yesterday - had every right to dwell within the matted undergrowth of every-day vision.
But our pounding heart drives us down, deep down to the source of all.
Then those curiosities become realities - realities of art which help to lift life out of its mediocrity.
For not only do they, to some extent, add more spirit to the seen, but they also make secret visions visible.