Revitalizing the Spirit

by Michael Zabel

Robert Henri – American Painter and Teacher (1865-1929)

Something that has become an annual ritual of mine is to reread The Art Spirit by Robert Henri.  Delivering seriously raw philosophy, indulgence of pure enjoyment and also the functionality of resetting after another hectic year winds down and a new one begins, I find it to be the single most important text that any artist can have in their personal library.  It serves as a reminder of why, exactly, we do what we do (generally speaking of course). This year I finally decided to purchase my own copy because, as the public library is great, I was getting tired of restraining my self from highlighting and writing notes in the margins of a copy I did not own.  Plus I wouldn’t want somebody else to think that previous to them, a maniacal lunatic had borrowed this important book, consequently resulting in deterring them from reading it (that would be a absolute crime).  Henri delves deep into the artistic psyche providing philosophical commentary on lifestyle and technical approach, providing guidance to one exploring and experiencing the world through their unique vision.  Through a series of short notes, letters and lecture-like snippets the the definition of an artist begins to take form, also developing a safe haven for any creative who has felt alone or out of place on their own journey of expression.  It goes without saying that this is a critical book that I highly recommend.  I might also add that it would be extremely beneficial to pass this book along to close family members or friends who don’t know exactly what it is you do for a living (and let’s face it, that is pretty much everybody in your life, even your own parents).     

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