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University Extension Lectures


of a

Course of Six Lectures


Art and Daily Life


John Quincy Adams, Ph. D.

No. 216

Price, 10 cents

Copyright, 1903, by
The American Society for the Extension of University Teaching

111 South Fifteenth Street, Philadelphia, Pa.


What is Art ?

“Nature contains the elements, in color and form, of all pictures, as the keyboard contains the notes of all music.

“But the artist is born to pick, and choose, and group with science, these elements, that the result may be beautiful—as the musician gathers his notes, and forms his chords, until he bring forth from chaos glorious harmony.

He does not confine himself to purposeless copying, without thought, each blade of grass as commended by the inconsequent, but in the long curve of the narrow leaf corrected by the straight tall stem, he learns how grace is wedded to dignity, how strength enhances sweetness, that elegance shall be the result."-WHISTLER.

To most persons art is a small book written in a strange tongue. People are so familiar with the word, they take for granted that it means painting and sculpture, never suspecting that art is to be found on every page of human life. In addition, the subject-matter of a work of art is taken for the art itself.

What does common experience teach us about the nature of art? What influence has science had upon our misconceptions of art? How do the two differ in language, method and content? This will be seen by treating a few simple facts scientifically, and then, artistically. Scientific ideas dominate our age and these have had a marked effect on art-appreciation, for as Goethe

says: “The eye sees what it came to see.” Every true artist is a pioneer and every work of art is a new thing in the world. Hence arises the difficulty of expressing art by a formula or of measuring it by a common

a objective standard. Can its value be determined by such means ?

Art and the artist have an intimate relation to the people. There is an affinity between them, and each influences the other.


Book recommended :“What is Art?”—Leo Tolstoy.


Art and the Day's Work.

“A man is relieved and gay when he has put his heart into his work and done his best; but what he has said or done otherwise shall give him no peace.”—EMERSON.

An examination of every-day experience shows the character of pleasant and irksome tasks. The difference between drudgery and play is less than is generally supposed, and depends more upon associations than upon the nature of the activity. This is illustrated by the relation of associations to the value of objects; to the conduct of both men and animals as is exemplified in daily work, sports, and literature.

Labor-saving machinery has lifted a great weight from the shoulders of toilers, but it has left a burden unknown to any former industrial era.

There are two ways of getting what one wants: one direct, the other indirect. While these seem closely akin in purpose, there is a fundamental difference which affects not only the quality and quantity of all work, but fixes the pleasure or pain of the doing

What are the sources of associations and of the mental attitude of workmen and pupils toward their tasks? What influence do surroundings have upon interest and concentration? How can apparently irksome work be transformed into a desirable occupation? The answers to these and similar questions will show the practical application of art to work.


Book recommended: "Hopes and Fears for Art.”—William Morris.


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