WHAT IS GREAT ART
Chancellor of the Alexander Order
Great art is more than a treat for the eye or a tonic for the spirit. Truly great art is an expression of the innermost soul of a people: an expression of that people's yearnings and ideals, of its deepest hopes and joys, of its meaning and purpose.
Is there anything which Americans need more today than a renewed sense of purpose in their lives? Our forefathers in Europe strove to uplift themselves and their people to new levels of greatness. The best of them saw their purpose as the elevation of man, and they were often able to inspire their fellows with the same feeling of purpose. In America today there seems to be little, if any, sense of purpose beyond the individual accumulation of material wealth and the pursuit of pleasure. This aimlessness has taken an enormous toll, not only in lives destroyed by drugs and alcohol, but even more in the degeneration of our national life.
Today the great standards which guided us in the past have been ridiculed, belittled, and torn down. This is true of art, which in turning to modernism has lost all meaning for the American majority, and it is true of most other aspects of our social and cultural life. In view of this it is hardly surprising that so many of our young people are leading confusing lives and are looking to the future without hope.
It need not be this way. We can have standards again. We can renew the purpose and meaning in the life of our people. The great art which inspired and guided our forefathers is not dead. It lives today in the magnificent sculpture of Arno Breker. His art is the living expression of the same spirit which inspired the Greeks of the Classical Age and which flowered again during the European Renaissance. It can also inspire Americans in these dark days and guide them again to the light.
Classical art is the true art of Europe, the true art of our people. This is why so many great leaders of the past--Napoleon, for example--took care to instill Classical ideals in their citizens. This is why they commissioned artists to create art in the Classical tradition for state buildings and public monuments, to serve as a standard and an ideal for the government and for the people. They knew that only with great and noble ideals is it possible for a nation to achieve and maintain greatness.
Greatness is what we want for America. Our hearts yearn for a great culture once again, for great deeds once again, for great heroes once again. We yearn for the elevation of our people, for the bringing forth of a higher man: a man of will and purpose and greatness of spirit. We want our people to glorify the great, the noble, the beautiful, and the divinely creative once again.
Reprinted with permission