Pearls from artists* # 355
*an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
True art provides us with truth in a manner analogous to science. Its prophetic dimension – its knack for showing us the side of things that our interests blind us to – make it a source of knowledge, even though it is knowledge of a kind that instrumental reason has little time for. The psychologists who revolutionized our understanding of human psychology in the earliest twentieth century drew on two principal sources to build their concepts: the dream life of their patients and the great art of the past. Without this recognition of the primacy of imagination, Freud and Jung could never have drawn their maps of the psyche. Those who work for a better world would do well to follow their example and find the guiding patterns of life in the prophetic artistic works of the past and present. Only art can act as a counter-weight to that uniquely modern mentality that, wherever it becomes the only game in town, seeks to persuade us that the proper goal of human beings is to contain, dissect, and control everything – that even the most persistent mysteries are just problems to be solved.
J.F. Martel in Reclaiming Art in the Age of Artifice: A Treatise, Critique, and Call to Action
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Pearls from artists* # 211
* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
There is an ancient view that beauty is the object of a sensory rather than an intellectual delight, and that the senses must always be involved in appreciating it. Hence, when the philosophy of art became conscious of itself at the beginning of the eighteenth century, it called itself ‘aesthetics,’ after the Greek aesthesis, sensation. When Kant wrote that the beautiful is that which pleases immediately, and without concepts, he was providing a rich philosophical embellishment to this tradition of thinking. Aquinas too seems to have endorsed the idea, defining the beautiful in the first part of the Summa as that which is pleasing to sight (pulchra sunt quae visa placent). However, he modifies this statement in the second part, writing that ‘the beautiful relates only to sight and hearing of all the senses, since these are the most cognitive (maxime cognoscitive) among them.’ And this suggests, not only that he did not confine the study of beauty to the sense of sight, but that he was less concerned with the sensory impact of the beautiful than with its intellectual significance – even if it is a significance that can be appreciated only through seeing or hearing.
Beauty: A Very Short Introduction, by Roger Scruton
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Q: I have been always fascinated with the re-contexualizing power of Art and with the way some objects or even some concepts often gain a second life when they are “transduced” on a canvas or in a block of marble. So I would like to ask you if in your opinion, personal experience is an absolutely indespensable part of a creative process. Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?
A: Certainly personal experience is an indispensable and inseparable part of the creative process. For me art and life are one and I suspect that is true for most artists. When I look at each of my pastel paintings I can remember what was going on in my life at the time I made it. Each is a sort of veiled autobiography waiting to be decoded and in a way, each is also a time-capsule of the larger zeitgeist. It’s still a mystery how exactly this happens but all lived experience – what’s going on in the world, books I’m reading and thinking about, movies I’ve seen that have stayed with me, places I’ve visited, etc. – overtly and/or not so obviously, finds its way into the work.
Life experience also explains why the work I do now is different from my work even five years ago. In many ways I am not the same person.
The inseparableness of art and life is one reason that travel is so important to my creative process. Artists always seek new influences that will enrich and change our work. To be an artist, indeed to be alive, is to never stop learning and growing.
Comments are welcome!