Wisdom on Wednesdays—As near despair and madness as possible

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St. Paul the Hermit, oil on canvas, c. 1922, 30 x 25 in. (Private collection)
Schmitt’s depiction of St. Paul of Thebes (d. c. 341) being fed miraculously by a raven was probably inspired by a painting of the saint by the great seventeenth-century Spanish artist Velázquez. The enigmatic figure on the foreground is Schmitt’s own contribution.
A version of this painting in brighter colors is part of the Carl Schmitt Foundation’s collection.

“To come as near despair as possible without losing hope—that is the aim of a Christian.
“To come as near madness as possible without losing sanity—(that is, to be as fanatical as possible without losing idiocy) is the aim of an artist.”  (1932)

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Wisdom on Wednesdays—The human being is made to do the impossible

pastel on paper, 14 x 11 in.

“Do you know the only real argument against Christianity, the Fine Arts?
It is this: they are impossible.
Do you know the only answer to this?
It is: The human being is made to do the impossible.”  (1961)

Wisdom on Wednesdays—The Love, the Faith, the Hope

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Easter card by Robert Schmitt, 1921.

“Christianity in the first 500 years of its existence was known as ‘The Love’ in much the same way as it is known in our day as ‘The Faith.’  It died as love and resurrected as faith as it is dying today as faith and is resurrected as a hope.”  (1941)

Wisdom on Wednesdays—Factory civilization or total Christianity

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The Sower, 1937, Conte crayon on paper, 18 x 14 in.
Study for the oil painting of the same name.

“Society has been ‘freed.’  It has been emancipated from God.  As has been said, man cannot be neutral for long.  He must be ultimately the slave of God or the slave of the Devil.  Our choice is between the Servile State of avaricious materialism (factory civilization) and total Christianity.”  (1943)

Wisdom on Wednesdays—The old Christian idea of sin

Second Night border

The Second Night, 1929, oil on canvas, 48 x 40 in.
From a contemporary black and white photograph; present location unknown.
For Carl Schmitt’s own “explanation” of this painting, see the article “The Artist Explains His Work,” from February 2015 issue of the CSF e-newsletter Vision.

“Today in America the old Christian idea of sin is fast disappearing.  There remains (and is encouraged) a vast sense of social guilt. The only sin is treason to society (the state).”  (1961)