About Cecil Collins

Cecil Collins, 1908 – 1989

“Cecil Collins has been described as our most important metaphysical painter since William Blake. He is a visionary artist whose output, extending over the past sixty years, has been devoted to the expression of the inner realities of the soul. His central theme is the Great Happiness, the paradise we come from, for which we always yearn in our innermost being, and which is restored to us through the creative imagination. To an extent  rare in modern art his works lighten the spirit with qualities of joy and consolation, while opening up to us, through landscapes and archetypal figures new depths in our own natures. Among the archetypal figures he portrays are the Eternal Bride, the Angel, and the figure for which he is most famous, the Fool, which for him symbolizes purity of consciousness.”

–from “Cecil Collins: The Quest for Great Happiness” by William Anderson

Quotes by Cecil Collins:

On the purpose of the artist, creativity and beauty:

Our civilisation has a brilliant technological surface to it, but underneath there is emptiness; hollowness and depravation of a man of his soul. We have a highly specialized external world which in no way reflects the inner life of man, the psyche, so he goes through an absolutely–from the point of view of the human being–meaningless landscape. It’s an environment without being. Man’s inner nature must have a world and an environment to live in as well as his exterior nature, and art is an instrument for building that world for his inner nature, for building his archetypal home. It is not necessary to understand in order to create. But it is necessary to create in order to understand. From “The Vision of the Fool”

On education:

I think the health of a nation is dependent upon its quality of its childhood –we have now with computer education an eroding of this period of childhood–more and more–I regard it as dangerous, indeed, because childhood is a formulation of direct perception. We have today an education that is concerned with everything but that. It is really a commercial education concerned with careers which means an education of how to manipulate and how to exploit experience for use of profit or whatever you will. And as creativity is all to do with relationships with life, with each other, nothing kills relationships faster or poisons it than this idea of education for exploitation and manipulation. From “Fools and Angels”

On civilisation:

Man’s inner nature must have a world and an environment to live in as well as his exterior nature, and art is an instrument for building that world for his inner nature, for building his archetypal home. The highest cultural achievement of man in the great civilisations has been when the inner and outer man have lived in the same world: that is, at those times when man’s outer, civilised environment was a manifestation of his inner nature, and everywhere he looked was an image and symbol perpetually reminding him of his inner nature and the meaning of his life. These civilisations understood how easily we forget and become exterior and lost in a thousand manifold a activities, losing the original unity of our being. From The Vision of the Fool.

For further information about Cecil Collins click HERE.

Bibliography:

  • The Gates of Silence (Grey Walls Press, 1944) by Wrey Gardiner with drawings by Cecil Collins
  • The Vision of the Fool (Grey Walls Press, 1947)
  • Cecil Collins: Painter of Paradise (1979) by Kathleen Raine
  • The Quest for the Great Happiness (1988) by William Anderson
  • In Celebration of Cecil Collins: Visionary Artist and Educator (2008) compiled and edited by Nomi Rowe
  • The Eye of the Heart: Paintings of Cecil Collins – a film by Stephen Cross

A selection of Cecil Collins’ paintings at the Tate can be viewed by clicking HERE.

The Pilgrim Fool, 1943, © Tate, London 2002

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