no work of art at all

I was constantly watching the work of my father and mother, and the other professional painters who frequented their home, and constantly trying to imitate them; so that I learnt to think of a picture not as a finished product exposed for the admiration of virtuosi, but as the visible record, lying about the house, of an attempt to solve a definite problem in painting, so far as the attempt has gone. I learnt what some critics and aestheticians never know to the end of their lives, that no ‘work of art’ is ever finished, so that in that sense of the phrase there is no ‘work of art’ at all. Work ceases upon the picture or manuscript not because it is finished, but because sending-in day is at hand, or because the printer is clamorous for copy.

—R.G. Collingwood, The Principles of Art (Oxford Univ. Press, 1958)

No comments: