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Shahn Discusses Best Education For Young Artist in Final Talk

'Read Bible, Hume, Pogo'


Ben Shahn described the ideal program of the life of a young artist last night in the last of his Charles Eliot Norton lectures. The object of this program is the production of an educated, cultured and integrated man.

Shahn used a series of exhortations in describing how an artist should obtain education and culture. "Read everything--the Bible, Hume, Pogo--but not the art reviews. Paint and paint, draw and draw on any smooth surface; the margins of books are excellent. Go visit Paris, Madrid, Rome, Ravenna, Padua and stand alone in the Sainte Chapelle."

"The learning of a university is of the profoundest value," Shahn added, but felt that one should work at some job before entrance. "No knowledge is not pertinent to the work of an artist," he insisted.

Shahn said the third step, integration, will bring this knowledge into a unified whole with the personality. This "uniting of the thousand facets of experience into form," is the artistic process, he pointed out.

This form of education will answer at least two of the three practical questions asked by young artists today, Shahn claimed. These questions are "What shall I paint?", "How shall I paint?", and "What security can I have as a painter?"

The volumes and opinions obtained in the process of this wide education will teach what he should paint, and to a certain extent it will teach him how to paint, Shahn asserted. One can teach certain technical points but "teaching a style would be like teaching personality," he said.

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