It's a bright, clear, frosty morning, January 1, the first day of a new century, and as I sit here, pen in hand, preparing these words of New Year's greeting, let me say the future never looked brighter. The world is at peace with itself and so am I. My art work prospers, and so does that of the rest of the world as artists all over sit poised to make their mark on this new century. I am by nature a confirmed optimist and I see much happening in the world of art that gives me great confidence in this optimism. In this country, artists such as Kenyon Cox, John La Farge, Cecilia Beaux, Elihu Vedder, and Julian Alden Weir are at the top of their form, their painting talents bringing beauty and grace to every surface they touch. Great sculptors such as John Quincy Adams Ward, Daniel Chester French, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and Bessie Potter Vonnoh daily create stone and bronze masterpieces so near to life they threaten to speak to us more than just visually.
Overseas, in France, new ways of seeing and painting come to life seemingly with every breath we draw. We see Claude Monet doing things with color no man (or woman) has ever done before. We see young upstarts such as Monsieur Gauguin startling us with his vibrant use of color to excite our minds, eyes, and senses as he allows us to see the islands of the South Pacific through his magical eyes. We see the influence of the tragic Monsieur Van Gogh in the fresh paint of Henri Matisse and Maurice Vlaminck. Our own Mary Cassatt continues to show us her world through the eyes of both mother and child (which paradoxically she is neither). In Austria, a young Gustav Klimt paints with the same exotic elegance that our Louis Comfort Tiffany uses in his fabulous stained glass creations. In Norway, Edvard Munch sweeps us up into his emotional expressions of outer turmoil as he seeks an inner peace. And from Spain, we see the blossoming of exciting young artists on the move such as Senor Picasso, or in Russia, artists such as Marc Chagall and Kasimir Malevich.
Which of these are destined to made the deepest marks on the new century? Perhaps NONE of them. Perhaps he or she has yet to be born. Perhaps it won't even be a painter or sculptor who has the most to say in the next century. Maybe it might be some young man with a camera, or maybe even a new "motion picture" camera who will redefine the very WORD "art" for us. The potential is limited only by our own imaginations; the possibilities even going beyond that which we can now imagine. All I can say is to sit back, hold on, and take a deep breath, it's gonna be a WILD RIDE!
(Note: The preceding was written before it became apparent that while the computer on my DESK was fully Y2K compliant, the one between my EARS was not. My neurosurgeon has now fully assured me that, having upgraded my 54-year old CPU, and installed additional RAM, I should be good for at least another twenty years, or until Microsoft comes out with a new operating system, whichever comes first.)