“Carl Schmitt’s Enduring Vision of Beauty” at Aleteia.org

The popular website Aleteia recently interviewed CSF president Samuel Schmitt on his grandfather’s art, life and enduring legacy.

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Self-portrait, c. 1965, oil on hardboard, 18 x 15 in.

“It’s difficult to imagine anyone having a clearer idea of his calling in life than Carl Schmitt.”

The Catholic Artist Carl Schmitt’s Enduring Vision of Beauty

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Wisdom on Wednesdays—Keeping our heritage of the Fine Arts alive

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Self-portrait, c. 1965, oil on hardboard, 18 x 15 in.

“While many of the boys I went to art school with have become famous, I have turned my back upon the popular styles in an honest attempt to do something toward keeping our heritage of the Fine Arts alive.”  (1959)

New book, Silvermine, now available at 50% off

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A new pictorial history of Silvermine, the place Carl Schmitt called home for 70 years, is now available for pre-order at 50% off. As part of their “Cyber Monday” sale, Arcadia Publishing is offering the discount today and tomorrow only (now through Wednesday, November 30, 2016).

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Through dozens of historic photographs the book tells the story of the picturesque valley from the time it buzzed with sawmills through the coming of the artists who transformed it into the artistic hub we know and love today.

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There’s something about Silvermine. When the Schmitt boys found arrowheads while playing along the rock ridges and the river, their father Carl would say, “Of course, the Indians know all the good places.” This view down Borglum Road toward the Silvermine River bridge with Carl Schmitt’s house on the right looks much the same today as it did when this photograph was taken almost a century ago.

The book highlights the families of the artists and the life they made together, especially Carl and Gertrude Schmitt and their extended family—her father Austin Lord and Carl’s brother Robert, who, along with Solon Borglum, were instrumental in the formation of the Silvermine Group of Artists in 1908. The group later became the Silvermine Guild of Artists, which endures to this day.

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Some of you may recognize this large boulder in front of the old Borglum place on Borglum Road, site of many birthday parties and other get-togethers in Silvermine over the years. Through fascinating images such as this, the new book captures Silvermine’s rich social, artistic, and cultural life during the heyday of the artists’ colony in the first half of the last century.

The stories of the Silvermine Tavern (where Spencer Tracy was a frequent guest and Lauren Bacall spent her ‘babymoon’ in 1949), the Buttery Mill (the oldest mill in the US when it closed in the 1950s), and the great flood of 1955 round out the narrative.silvermine-interior-page-spread-118-119

Part of the well-known “Images of America” series from Arcadia Publishing, many of the photographs come from the archives of the Carl Schmitt Foundation as well as historical societies and individuals in the area.

This offer is good today and tomorrow only (Tuesday and Wednesday, November 29 and 30, 2016).  You won’t see a better price.

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Samuel A. Schmittt

Silvermine

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New book Carl Schmitt: The Conscience of Beauty now for sale!

Until now, you have read short “tweets” of Carl Schmitt’s thoughts on this blog.  Now, the CSF is pleased to announce the publication of the unfiltered Carl Schmitt in a new collection of his writings, The Conscience of Beauty.

The Conscience of Beauty  collects over seventy of Schmitt’s essays,  most appearing now for the first time.  With a foreword by the artist’s son Jacob, and edited and introduced by CSF director Samuel Schmitt, this 222-page volume can be binge-read in an evening, or taken up from time to time as a leisurely formation in the conscience of beauty.

cob-sample-pages-2Schmitt wryly observes in the first essay that when the artist puts down his brushes to speak, “his muse is displeased at the digression” and “he is perilously close to talking rubbish.”  But this collection reveals a man whose words on paper are at least as remarkable as his work on canvas.

The man who can both paint and write without displeasing his muse is rarely found, but to live and paint and write is given only to the few.cob-sample-pages-1In these short essays Schmitt has gathered and distilled the fruits of his contemplation over a long lifetime. Alongside practical advice on getting through the dull times of life and helpful observations on the good of squabbling siblings stand sharp fragments on the uttermost reaches of the four last things and piercing, prophetic critiques of our times. As his grandson and namesake Carl F. Schmitt recalls, he understood reality in a way that “lay between, and always accounted for, both the particular and the general, the small and the large, the individual and the collective, the material and the spiritual, the natural and the divine. The scale of his approach was relentlessly human, participating in both the mundane and the glorious.”

Click on the image below to order your copy.  You can see a preview here.

The book makes a wonderful gift for Christmas!

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Carl Schmitt

The Conscience of Beauty

$20.00

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“Just look at it!”: Woman and Guardian Angel (1925)

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Woman and Guardian Angel, 1925, oil on canvas on board, 30 x 25 in.

This warm and inviting painting, one of the most beguiling of Carl Schmitt’s “tapestry” style, was the result of many months of toil in the cold winter of 1924-25.  Schmitt first mentions it his journal in early November, when he was busy at what would become one of his largest works, the mural Nativity, measuring 10 by 6 feet.  The two works now hang side by side in the Foundation’s studio-gallery in Silvermine.

After announcing “Good-bye to studio ’till 1925” on December 23, Schmitt was back at it three days after Christmas.  By the end of the month conditions were becoming desperate: “Slept rather cold in the studio last night.  I had three bathrobes and two overcoats over me. I found the bottle of milk frozen (which was by the bed) this morning.  I kept the fire roaring and worked continuously on the Guardian Angel all day.”  A week into the new year saw a milestone of sorts: “I worked on the ‘Woman and Angel’ and completed it (at least for the time being).”

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Of course, the artist worked the painting over in the next few weeks, and in fact considered it only in its first stages.  “I swung the ‘Woman and Angel’ into the beginning of a picture today,” he reported on January 9.  Schmitt goes on to reveal the fruit of his long labors, both with the brush and in thought.  “I am slowly learning the place of form in painting.  Sculpture is prefigured only in painting.…cf. Cezanne at the end of his labor: ‘Painting is not sculpture.’ One might add ‘But it prefigures it, apprehends it in the lowest relief.’”

2013 Open House - admiring new painting

A friend of the CSF admires Woman and Guardian Angel, one of three works given to the Foundation in 2013.  It is shown here in a frame by Carl’s brother Robert.  The artist’s large canvas, Nativity, done at the same time, hangs in the background.

If the great nineteenth-century painter Paul Cezanne, whom Schmitt admired for his dedication to form in painting, seemed disappointed that his art could not reach the level of sculpture, Schmitt seems determined to compensate for this loss.  One sees in this painting the solid masses and bold forms of sculpture, but with the jewel-like colors that can be realized only in paint.

The forms themselves also display a flexibility that stone or bronze could not easily withstand: witness the arm of the woman intertwined with that of the angel.  Here the demands of three-dimensional form—not to mention the anatomy of the figures—bow to the overall design of the painting.

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It is not clear when the work was finally completed, since it was not exhibited in the artist’s lifetime.  In 1932, the painting was bought by John Kenneth Byard, a longtime patron and friend of Schmitt.  Byard gave it to his brother Dever, who passed it on to his son, and so on to his daughter, who gave it to the Foundation in 2013.

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This article appeared originally in the May 2014 issue of Vision, the CSF e-newsletter.  If you would like to receive Vision in your inbox, you may subscribe here.