|Saint Francis de Sales by Ola Wolpe 1977|
Oil-tempera on board, 51 x 39.7 cm
This passage is from C. F. Kelley, The Spirit of Love (1953)
When St. Francois de Sales speaks of man's "rightful calling," a phrase he frequently uses, what does he mean? Perhaps his understanding of a "rightful calling," a rightful vocation, is one which is partially determined by a proper understanding of the word art. Unfortunately this word now tends to be restricted to aesthetics, to the production of pleasing objects. Though sixteenth and seventeenth century France was already witnessing the breakdown of its lawful meaning, the philosophy of St. Francois could only subscribe to a conception of art which only was reduced to theology, but which basically meant a rational control over some special phase of human life or environment. It is by art, by techne, to use the Greek equivalent, that man subordinate external nature (and his own nature) , so as to achieve his rational purpose in life which, for St. Francois meant "showing forth God's goodness." Without art, techne reduced to God, man would not exist. Environment and his own lower nature would overwhelm him. . . . If the result of one's art is useful it enables one to realize his own and mankind's rational end, then the vocation determined by that art and its resultant work is a rightful calling. "Union in distinction makes order; order produces agreement; and proportion and agreement in complete and finished things, make beauty." And beauty is the showing forth of God's goodness." . . . there is the vocation of thankfulness to God whereby one uses the things of God with gratitude, with a view toward creation for use and not for profit. In this calling the creator's work becomes the symbol of thanksgiving, the creator never forgetting that symbolism is the vision of the Infinite in the finite, that if it usurps the place of reality it becomes idolatry.
On artist Ola Wolpe (1902-1985) visit this link.