Ecstasy

Photo: At the San Francisco Museum of Art, an abstract gets close scrutiny

Be they artists or lovers of art, mystics or mathematicians, those who achieve ecstasy are those who have freed themselves from the arrogance of humanity. He who would feel the significance of art must make himself humble before it. Those who find the chief importance of art or of philosophy in its relation to conduct or its practical utility – those who cannot value things as ends in themselves or, at any rate, as direct means to emotion – will never get from anything the best that it can give. Whatever the world of aesthetic contemplation may be, it is not the world of human business and passion; in it the chatter and tumult of material existence is unheard, or heard only as the echo of some more ultimate harmony.

Clive Bell
Art (1914)

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