|One line synopsis||The relationship of a lecture, "The Political Economy of Art", given by John Ruskin (1819-1900) in 1857 (dramatised) to some present day concerns: art education, the place of photography, art exhibition and the contribution of architecture to the environment.|
John Ruskin, lecturing, says he is supposed to speak on "the treasures of art" but does not believe that his audience really cares for them as they care for industrial work as they think there is no economic return. He says that "… art is nothing less than part and parcel of the wealth of this country…" and proposes to deal with the following questions: How to discover your artist, how best to employ him, how to accumulate and preserve his work, and how to distribute it to the best national advantage. Caption: "First, how to discover your artist." School art class. Teach tells pupils they can use whatever colours they like and however they want them, but that they should think about those colours and about the shapes in which they apply them, and where Drawings and paintings by schoolchildren. Commentary says that: "In 1836, the Church Societies reported that drawing … had been found useful for teaching habits of attention and neatness…" and describes how boys were enabled to draw in chalk on black painted tables, etc. Art class with teacher commenting on pupils’ work. Children’s paintings. Commentary: "The Select Committee on the Arts and Their Connection with Manufactures was appointed … in 1835 … to inquire into the best means of extending a knowledge of the arts and the principles of design among the people…" People giving evidence to the Committee "complained that French manufactures were far superior to British in design…" as French workmen "were better educated and a knowledge of the arts extended lower down society". Art class. Pupils say which designs they like best and explain why. Children painting. Commentary: "In 1836, the first school of design was established in London, with responsibility for art education throughout the country…", the students were expected to find employment in something other than the arts, and the school’s first director believed that artisans should not to be exposed to "high art" nor allowed to draw from life lest they attempted "to better themselves by becoming fine artists". Teacher in empty classroom talks about particular pupils; a poster designed by one of them for the 1979 U.N. Year of the Child, and painting of a railway engine by a boy "now working on the railways".
Ruskin: "Artistic genius is necessarily a rarity …" Caption: "secondly, how best to employ your artist" Lecturer continues, "We’re too much in the habit, these days, of acting as if art were a commodity which people could generally be taught to produce…", saying that the value of an artist’s work comes from that which cannot be taught and is unique to the artist. Photographs of park benches. Commentary: "In 1839, a selection of Daguerreotypes was shown to the French Academy of Sciences…"; the members commented on the precision of the reproduction of the objects and expressed concern that this "might deprive the artist of his traditional livelihood". Man setting up camera and taking photographs; he explains what he’d doing. Marking proof sheets. Commentary explains how, in an 1862 law suit brought against rivals by Léopold Ernest Mayer and Pierre-Louis Pierson who claimed protection for their work under the copyright laws, the court judged that the law applied only to art, rather than the "industrial" skills required by photography. Photographer explains to printer how he wants his pictures processed. Photographs of props holding up ends of buildings, hay bales and stacks, bundles of cloth, seashore, trees, etc. Commentary says that Mayer and Pierson appealed the verdict, their lawyer arguing that "truth and beauty … were the same for the photographer as they were for the painter and sculptor…", and the Attorney General agreed that photography was an art and would, in future, be protected as such. Photographer describes the "painterly feel" of one of his images, but says that he doesn’t consciously think of such things when he selects his subjects. He hopes that particular photographs "speak for themselves". Film of some of the photographer’s subjects. Commentary: "In 1888, George Eastman patented the Kodak No.1 portable camera…", and quotes Eastman’s brief instructions for its operation.Caption: "then, how to accumulate and preserve the artist’s work"
|Production company||Cactus Films|
|Running time||47 minutes|
John Ruskin, Clive Merrison;
|Film segment||Four Questions About Art - ACE086.2|
|Four Questions About Art - ACE086.3|
|Four Questions About Art - ACE086.4|
|Four Questions About Art - ACE086.5|
|Web address (URL)||https://player.bfi.org.uk/free|