Hesiod and the Muse, 1891
Oil on canvas, Musee d'Orsay, Paris
Gustave Moreau (1826-1898)
Serving the Muse
The purpose of art is to acquaint us with the mysteries of being alive and human. Art is not trivial. Art is not peripheral to our daily activities. It is the reason we exist.
In beauty I walk
- from the Navajo Blessing Way Ceremony
What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy, and strength, if faced with an
open mind. Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as
Beauty is a form of genius - is higher, indeed, than genius, as it needs no explanation. It
is of the great facts in the world like sunlight, or springtime, or the reflection in dark
water of that silver shell we call the moon.
When I'm working on a problem, I never think about beauty. I think only how to solve
the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is
There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.
Beauty is but the sensible image of the Infinite. Like truth and justice it lives within us;
like virtue and the moral law it is a companion of the soul.
The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all
true art and science.
Why do we educate ourselves and our children? Why do we try to remain healthy? Why do we build roads and foster commerce? Why do we create institutions of government to provide for the general good, safety and well-being? All of these things must be done, but for what reason? To ease suffering? To gain wealth? Certainly, but why are these things important?
The core purpose of humanity is to experience art. In its purest forms, art is not an expression of ego. It is the expression of the fundamental creative urge that is within all living things.