Monday, April 7, 2008

The Artist, The Art and YOU

What is the role of the artist in 2008? Is there one beyond personal expression? Is there a social role for an artist to play, and if he does, does it even matter to anyone other than to those to whom the artwork speaks? Or is art holographic in nature, bringing us to a different state of being each time we enter, and the artist's only role: creator?

The writer (Lolita) Vladimir Nabokov said, "A work of art has no importance whatever to society. It is only important to the individual."

Fredrich Nietzsche felt that art had a broader value: "Art is essentially the affirmation, the blessing, and the deification of existence."

Andy Warhol disrupted the common views of the role each artist should play in their art. With Warhol's Brillo there is absolutely no sign of the artist's hand or that this piece was even made by an artist. Since he uses different techniques than traditional artists, at times he may never touch the piece at all and it still will be credited to him. This is a complete turn around from what was once expected from the artist. Skill is no longer involved, it is much more about content, appearance, and processes. Now many artists, such as Chihuly and Oldenburg follow in the footsteps of Warhol, by acting as designer, and letting the actual making of their art work be the job of their hired contractors, laborers and apprentices.

Artist such as Van Gogh and Rembrandt are thought to have especially personal art because the "artist's hand" or brushstrokes are visible throughout their pieces, showing their inner emotions. This personal quality of is often said to be why their paintings sell at such high prices. The same can be said of Jackson Pollock's work.

There are those that believe the artist has a higher calling. Carl Jung believed, "Art is a kind of innate drive that seizes a human being and makes him its instrument. To perform this difficult office it is sometimes necessary for him to sacrifice happiness and everything that makes life worth living for the ordinary human being."

Joseph Campbell said, "The role of the artist I now understood as that of revealing through the world-surfaces the implicit forms of the soul."

What do YOU think?

Artwork by Nancy Standlee Many thanks.


Bella said...

I think an artists role has always been to speak the truth. To help others see the world from another perspective. One example of this is the work of Goya, the artist. His paintings are powerful moving images of humanity and war.

To create art is to tap into a higher state of being. It is delving into the depths of possibility and putting it in a way that others can understand it, enjoy it, disect it or even hate it. By forcing us to react art teaches you how to make an opinion and not follow what others do or say.

Art is a gift to humanity and we can all learn so much from it. Art feeds my soul and I mean this literally. It fulfills and inspires me to be a better person.

Anna Sellers said...

I believe art is our introduction to transformation. It happens first when the artist take their creative energy to create the art and again when the viewer uses their creative energy to view it and find it beautiful, not beautiful or ugly.

Technically, like any other animal, we could live without art forms. Since the days of the cave man, however, humans have included art forms into their existence. Although I am sure this could be argued with, I believe that we have had a distinct need for art to touch base with our inner selves, our creative nature, as we evolved into what we are today.

The artist may know what message they are attempting to send through their work. The viewer, on the other hand, brings with them a lifetime of experiences that changes that message the moment it is viewed, heard, or read. It is at that point that the message, the art, takes on an energy of it's own. That message changes with each individual because it is no longer just a piece of the artist. It is a combination of two individuals coming together in a common ground to communicate. It becomes synergy.

In my own personal experience, I have cried at the death of a fictional character. They did not exist in any sort of physical form. I am not confusing reality with literature. Yet the connection to that character resonated with me and I felt connected to them enough to feel bad when they no longer existed in their own sense of existence. Their impression left a mark on my own thinking about my own life and what it means, or what I want it to mean.

Had the author told me "believe this and go think about what it means in your own life", I might have continued without giving it a thought. Through the eyes of another life, however, I felt the message they were trying to communicate rather than merely hear it and move on. It was at that point that the work became not only the work of the author, but a combination of the two of us.

Molly Brogan said...

I believe, that "evolution", or the development of mankind and the opening of the individual lotus of consciousness, is an inside out process: as consciousness changes state and awareness expands, our experience changes and the world reflects the new possibility included in the foundation of our belief.

That being said, I think that art inspires our imaginations in a variety of ways, from titillatingly interest, to truly awakening our imagination. Here the artist plays a role like no other on the stage of life because it is our awakened imagination that allows us to create our reality. The artist can lead us to this. We inspire eachother in unity or separation as we move through states and stages learning that ultimately, we are all the same divine expression. The so called artists of life may never create a concrete work of art, but like a muse, may inspire enough of us to our highest potential to carry the day.

Nancy Standlee said...

I saw this quote today and liked it:
Today's Quote: "A sincere artist is not one who makes a faithful attempt to put on to canvas what is in front of him, but one who tries to create something which is, in itself, a living thing."
-William Dobell

Lee said...

Art is a weird and wonderful aspect of humanity. For me it touches the same 'God spot' that any sort of spirituality does, music especially for me has a deep, deep impact on my 'soul'.

What is the job of the artist? I'm not sure they even have one beyond being a sponge for mankind's 'soul', they soak up all sorts of ideas, philosophies, and emotions, all that is noble and ignoble about us evolved monkeys, and with this they produce varied pieces that mirror the soul and the psyche of mankind. In one piece of art you can find many things, normally I would say you are looking into the very person of the artist, what they are thinking or feeling, but in this they are acting as conduits for humanity as a whole.

Yet another reason to take joy in life, it's bloody interesting, and fun, if you're open to it, innit!

Wehireu said...

I thought art was about expressing the full range of human emotions in a way that can be communicated in a safe manner. Art is not art if it does not evoke some internal reaction in the viewer.

Eddie said...

Art explores the innermost and outermost edges of human conciousness ...
Re: the comment above "safe' is the least of its concerns. Typically art feeds the collective knowledge and soul of a particular culture in a given time period. Depending on the archetypal resonance of the work it may very well become part of the 'great dialogue' of the 'arts' as a collective body of work that spans humankind. On one hand art must be taken in its historic and cultural context, on the other hand in a Jungian or archetypal assessment , art addresses certain elemental concerns and emotions that permeate all mankind and can be accessible to all persons in any era. A 'universality' that touches all...therein the beauty of art. The Lascaux cave paintings
are 'art' by modern discerning...but they had certain attributes or messages,recordings,that were relevant to the viewers of the time period they were created in and cannot be fully understood today other than through academic study and postulation. However the 'artistic ' impact
is not lost on the viewer no matter what era the work is viewed.
Art is the blood and life of cultures. Often time it can cause the human spirit to rise and soar above the circumstance at hand. At times it can test the will and morals of of a society as evidenced by the homoerotic photography of Robert Mapplethorpe(unsafe). At the end of WWll when Hitler's
armies were retreating across Europe.. a certain officer in defiance of Hitler's orders spirited away a number of paintings that were to become part of the 'beautiful loot' . He made sure that these paintings were left in Italy their proper owners because he realised the historical,cultural and artistic value of the risk to his own life. History is full of brave acts in defense of 'art'.
Art is the lifeblood and cultural language of humanity and is as important if not more so than any collective body of knowledge.

Molly Brogan said...

Hey Nancy Standlee - thanks for posting the quote, so important to the conversation here. Thanks again for your beautiful artwork included in this post. It is a perfect fit, and a wonderful, living piece. Molly

Amarendra said...

Thanks, Molly, for initiating a very interesting discussion.

Some amazing wisdom has come out of this conversation:

mollybrogan's "the artist has a higher calling".

BellaVida's "To create art is to tap into a higher state of being".

wehireu's "expressing the full range of human emotions".

rverspirit's "Art is the blood and life of cultures".

I agree with these statements and would simply say, "Art is Life!". Everything else is 'garbage'

Malkin said...

Surely,it is a huge subject but let me just add a little remark.I noticed that artists and even more often art historians believe that art,especially painting has the power to change something in society,move the communal conscience.I happen to think that the sotto voce of a painting cannot influence society at all. I think that painting communicates with that part of our being that is not social but profoundly private.Therefore it is wise to remember of that situation while painting and make sure that the content will have to speak to viewer's cavernous privacy rather than ability to recognise the commonplace information. Brillo pads and pet-rocks are not art ,they are episodes in the long and astonishing history of praying on human innocence.

Leyla said...

I agree with Graymalkin up to a point i.e. the relationship between a painter and his work is private as well as the creation itself but once it is shown to another person it is no longer so. If a lot of people see the painting and are impressed by it , sooner or later this impression will be communicated to others and if it lives in many heads or hearts what it is then? Public in a social kind of way. I agree that art , if created from within an individual could not relate to commonplace information.
Having said all of that I think it is hard to define what is commonplace these days. The word itself is either archaic or we have all become commonplace.

Cassandra said...

You mean that once it is in the public domain a painting relinquishes the intimate connection with the artist? I believe that particular connection can never be replaced, but the painting itself gains new meanings from its exposure to the public.

Kelly said...

the little voices will

say art is nothing (so they can walk away from their responsibility to their art)

but, it is a high mark

to try to hit a target

and open an eye

with your art

Malkin said...

Cassandra wrote:"the painting itself gains new meanings from its exposure to the public" and I believe it is true.It enters busily navigated public waters,its native culture and the private voice of the painter get layered over with powerful cliches of the Zeitgeist.We have no control over that-all we can do is to shake our heads.Still- I would insist that a painting is intended to flow from one privacy to another privacy,somewhat like a love sonnet.

Cassandra said...

10: of course it is a private experience as well as a public one. However let's not forget that very few people come in direct contact with art for long enough periods of time to form that special relationship.

I, for example, have an oil painting bought in Canada a few years ago, painted by a local artist. It is a painting with trompe d'oeil of doors within doors: the more you look, the more/different doors you see. I have a special relationship with that particular painting. It speaks to me in meaningful ways. At the same time, my guests would admire its colours and textures in passing and move on...

Malkin said...

Yes!In that role the artist must become the Master of Experience,Guide of Sensuality,Magus of Mystery Present Everywhere.If he/she succeeds than encounter with such artwork feeds us,deepens us, nurtures the "angelic" possibilities in the rooting beast.

Trevor said...

Creativity is the quality that you bring to the activity that you are doing. It is an attitude, an inner approach - how you look at things....

Not everybody can be a painter - and there is no need also. If everybody is a painter the world will be very ugly; it will be difficult to live! And not everybody can be a dancer, and there is no need. But everybody can be creative.

Whatsoever you do, if you do it joyfully, if you do it lovingly, if your act of doing is not purely economical, then it is creative. If you have something growing out of it within you, if it gives you growth, it is spiritual, it is creative, it is divine. You become more divine as you become more creative.

All the religions of the world have said God is the creator. I don't know whether he is the creator or not, but one thing I know: the more creative you become, the more godly you become. When your creativity comes to a climax, when your whole life becomes creative, you live in God. So he must be the creator because people who have been creative have been closest to him. Love what you do. Be meditative while you are doing it - whatsoever it is!


Really, the experience of creativity is an entry into the mysterious. Technique, expertise and knowledge are just tools; the key is to abandon oneself to the energy that fuels the birth of all things.

This energy has no form or structure, yet all the forms and structures come out of it. It makes no difference what particular form your creativity takes - it can be painting or singing, planting a garden or making a meal. The important thing is to be open to what wants to be expressed through you. Remember that we don't possess our creations; they do not belong to us. True creativity arises from a union with the divine, with the mystical and the unknowable. Then it is both a joy for the creator and a blessing to others.