ILLINOIS HISTORICAL ART PROJECT
OLGA CHASSAING AND EDOUARD CHASSAING
EDOUARD CHASSAING was born in France on June 1, 1895, and studied art in Paris. He has exhibited at the Art Institute and various galleries in Chicago and has been awarded the Frank G. Logan prize of five hundred dollars for sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago.
OLGA CHASSAING was born in Paris, France, on December 1, 1897. She studied art in Paris and has lived in Chicago since 1927.
The urge to express emotions does not necessarily involve itself with the depiction of definite objects or incidents. We would rather express what we feel than what we see. And in order that what we feel may be seen, we use form as the external manifestation of structural truths, the mechanism, possibilities and relationships of which to the rest of nature it is our aim to make the basis of what we please to call our art. The process itself of organizing the various elements of one's experience so as to make it manifest in "pure abstraction" is suggested, more or less, by similar processes in nature, and is emotional in essence as well as intellectual. It is doubtful whether labels or "isms" which arise in literary discussions of plastic art are helpful either to the public or to the artist because they place the artist in a definite and narrow class. Thereby they limit his possibilities of growth and evolution, and in general mix the issues so completely that no one is able to understand what it is all about. The usefulness of a work of art is not the reason for bringing it into being, nor should it be created with the aim of fostering good morals-though it may be useful, in both a broad and specific sense, and it may serve a moral purpose. There is, however, in any emotion expressed strongly, and pervaded with personality, a disturbing element that may be distasteful to the public at the moment of its revelation. "Woe be unto him through whom the scandal comes to pass, but the scandal must come to pass." Meanwhile, we are agonizingly and gloriously intoxicated with the doing of things which are of no special interest to anyone. Olga and Edouard Chassaing.
It is significant that Olga and Edouard Chassaing should be able to collaborate in a statement as to what they are, separately, trying to do in their work. They are both sculptors. They both emphasize pure form. They both make free use of "exaggeration" and "distortion" when that seems necessary to complete the requirements of form which they set for themselves. But this joint statement of theirs engenders in one the question as to whether they have ever tried to collaborate on a piece of sculpture, and sets one wondering as to how it would come out if they did. The fact that two artists have found it possible to unite in one brief statement the setting forth of their aims as artists--even though they happen to be husband and wife-gives rise to other questions, also, and to some general reflections anent all of the artists' statements included in this volume. For instance, how much more sameness of tone and thought is there in the "credos" of several participants in this double symposium than there is in their expressions in visual form? At first flush, there seems to be a great deal more of likeness in the former than in the latter. But when the statements are read more closely, and the fact is taken into consideration that all of the artists represented were guided, in some degree, anyway, by a uniform set of questions in making these statements, then one is struck more by their individuality than by their seeming similarity. Another provocative observation which these brief essays give rise to is the fact that artists of about equal merit as artists seem to be almost diametrically opposed in their opinion as to what bearing, if any, physical and cultural background has on their work-also as to the ways in which painting and sculpture may be a contribution to society. J. Z. Jacobson.