Tag Archives: value of art


I am writing this entry while in Augusta, Georgia to attend the 2015 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. I’m very fortunate to be able to attend this event every year.

Although I know very little about golf, each year I thoroughly enjoy not just the exquisite beauty of Augusta National in full bloom, but I also marvel at how impeccably managed every aspect of this tour-nament is, which lends an air of relaxed formality that makes for a fun and friendly time.

Oh, and then there’s also the golf.   Did I mention that?  It’s a thrill to see the top players in the world playing one of the best courses in the world and, very often, playing their best game.   It’s not just the top pros either. Every year the top amateurs from around the globe are also invited to participate alongside with the best professionals.

I am sincere when I say that this annual event is something of the best the American South and, indeed, this country have to offer.  It’s all done with great grace and style.

“What on earth are you, Bill Watkins, Mr. Artsy, talking about?”, you might be asking.

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L’art Pour L’art

The photograph above, “Balance”, © 2015 by William B. Watkins, can be viewed in a larger format in the Chiaroscuro section of the Image Gallery. On that page, just double-click on the image to view it in a large, slideshow mode.

L’art pour l’art is a French phrase that translates to English as “Art for art[‘s sake]” and may be more familiar, particularly to movie aficionados, in its Latin rendering Ars gratia artis (more on that later).

However it’s presented, this is a mighty motto, noble in scope, affirming that art stands on its own, with its own intrinsic value. That is to say, “art” isn’t just a vehicle for sentimentality, religion, commerce, morals, or politics.

I doubt that this would have ever developed as anyone’s motto, though, had there not been a widespread conflict about the purpose of art to begin. Otherwise, why defend art’s higher end?

When I speak to college students, I often quote from a play that I first encountered as a young college student myself. The words were spoken by a powerful character in a generally cheerless play called Kennedy’s Children, written by Robert Patrick in the 1970s. At the top of Act II, the character Sparger, an actor, comes forward and finally begins to speak his truth, which begins (as he contemplates the room around him), “I used to know a place that was better . . . .”  He continues to describe the wonderland he had stepped into years earlier, “a hole-in-the-wall West Village coffeehouse . . . . [where] We did plays. We — I was one of “us” . . . .

For the character, it was a life-changing experience the night as a young man he first encountered that place and it was holy ground that he spoke of:

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