University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Digital Library for the Decorative Arts and Material Culture

Page View

The craftsman
Vol. V, No. 4 (January 1904)

Warner, John Dewitt
The importance of municipal improvements,   pp. 362-367 PDF (2.1 MB)


Page 366


THE CRAFTSMAN
be almost exclusively, not of those who have
crucified their senses to serve their ambition,
but those who are yet in touch with nature.
It is upon public art, therefore-the art that
inspires the "proletariat," the thousands
from whom will rise the leaders of the future
-that we must rely for any inspiration
broad enough or virile enough to count in
culture.
   Art for the city's sake-Art for its peo-
ple's sake. Such is the end sought. But
in seeking it there is found, more certainly
than in any other way, the most effective
promotion of what we hear called "Art for
Art's sake"-much or little as one may care
therefor. For Public Art is the only great
Art, the inspirer of all other Art. On the
Acropolis, in our cathedrals, in sculptural or
mural adornment of buildings dedicated to
church or state, we find the ark of the old
covenant between humanity and beauty, and
the evangel of the new one. Shut in, as it
were, to serve its owner, private art is but a
hearth fire that warms only its builder, and
leaves but few or no embers that can ever
glow again after the breath of his fortunes
has ceased to fan it. But Public Art is a
fire built in the market place, from which
each citizen borrows live coals for his own
home; an inspiration of those whose tastes
and impulses are, in the future, to represent
the private as well as the public culture of
Art among us-of those through whom
every cult of the beautiful can in the end be
best promoted, and by whom must be cher-
ished if it is to prosper.
   If the general proposition needed further
support, it could be found in the recent and
growing practice throughout the world.
During the past generation Vienna has been
re-planned and decorated-not especially as
366
a national stronghold, a cathedral town, an
imperial residence, a university center, but
as all these at once; and more than all as an
attractive place for residence, business and
sojourn of "the million," who but shortly
since would have been left to themselves as
far as concerned provision for art or beauty.
Berlin has been similarly developed until, in
aught but the ripening of time, it rivals
Paris. Paris, more largely from business
considerations, has been so constantly add-
ing to her attractions that it has been fairly
re-transfigured since the days of the empire.
In London, the (apparently) most hopeless
of problems in city beautification has been
radically attacked by the cutting of an
avenue from the Strand to High Holborn.
In New York, Chicago and Boston, ring
systems of park areas-inland and water
front-have been laid out, within which, on
scale never before conceived of, these cities
are transforming themselves on more or less
systematic plans. Washington, from the
first a "show" city, has so proved itself com-
modious and convenient, about in proportion
to its show features, as to have practically
decided Congress on a scheme of extension
and beautification not before or elsewhere
had; while in such cases as that of Cleve-
land, Springfield, and many another larger
or smaller city, the tendency of our time is
shown. It may, therefore, now be assumed
that the business instinct of our city coun-
cils, popular interest among our citizens,
and art in its broadest sense are at agree-
ment and effectively cotperating toward
beautification of our cities.
   The richness and variety of the resources
to be exploited are as yet scarcely appre-
ciated by those who have studied the sub-
ject. Not until to an understanding of


Go up to Top of Page