ILLINOIS HISTORICAL ART PROJECT
EVA WATSON SCHUTZE
EVE WATSON SCHUTZE has studied with American artists only. She began serious study at the age of fifteen at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts under Thomas Eakins and Thomas Anshutz, and continued, at this time, for a period of about six years to study painting, modeling, anatomy and dissecting. Subsequent to that, she followed other interests in art for a number of years-principally photography. She began to paint again, tentatively, in 1904 in Woodstock. And, from 1913 on, she studied for several seasons with William Schumacher. She has exhibited in Woodstock, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and elsewhere. She has received no "honors" other than those implied by the purchase of her pictures.
Began serious study of painting and modelling in life classes at age of fifteen under Thomas Eakins and Thomas Anshutz at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. After six years constant working from the figure, the study of perspective and of anatomy with dissecting, I knew the form and substance and the possible movements of the human body, and developed the plastic sense of the materials of clay and paint. But imagination seemed paralyzed, creative impulses checked. To "copy nature" was of course futile and useless, vision was not awakened, aesthetic expression had not become significant. I shared the ignorant opinion of the time that the Byzantines and early Italians were incompetent artists but had an aversion to the Classic, the Greek, the Italian Renaissance and the later European realists. All seemed artifice or useless representation. Even the "old masters" seemed black. Something in color and form which existed in nature moved me. What was it? Became interested in Japanese prints and Oriental art, and received the first intimation of the meaning of design. After coming to Chicago to live in 1901 spent half the year usually in Woodstock, New York. Discovery of the great contemporary French painters opened up a new world and revealed the significance of art of all time. Eakins had planted necessity of direct and unsentimental approach to subject. In this he was a forerunner of modern art in America. He was a world master of painting. He regarded "prettiness" with contempt. He, like Van Gogh, was greater than those to whom he deferred. I met William Schumacher in Woodstock in 1912 and worked several years with him. He brought back after many years in France a new and living conception of form and color and developed through his personal vision and technical skill a new contribution to art in America. He, also, despised sweetness and sentimentality. Both he and Anshutz were remarkable teachers. Schumacher reawakened the desire to find expression through form, color and design based on a visible and living world, and released me from the inhibitions caused by earlier experiences. The saying of Hokusai, ("old-man-mad-about-painting") has always haunted me: that one may learn a little about drawing by the time one is forty, may have a little knowledge by fifty or sixty, may paint very well by eighty, but if one could live to be one hundred and twenty, one's paintings would surely come to life. I consider that abstraction is the essence of all art, and that it is the organization of all abstract elements of form, color and tone that composes the picture and not its subject, the feeling and idea of which are expressed by means of the organization of abstract elements and not by representations of objects. Art is, I believe, a natural expression of ideas which are the reaction of the nervous structure of the mind to impressions received through the senses, and is intelligible to others than its creator through the same receptive faculties if they have not been stultified by wrong teaching of the approach to art. Eva Watson Schutze.