Q: How do you see art as a way to document the history and the customs and cultures of people? (Question from “Arte Realizzata”)
A: Certainly, art from the past gives us clues about life in the past, but I believe it does more. It reveals our shared humanity.
In one of my favorite books, Reclaiming Art in the Age of Artifice: A treatise, Critique, and Call to Action, JF Martel states that “… what the Modern west calls art is the direct result of a basic human drive, an inborn expressivity that is inextricably bound with creative imagination. It is less the product of culture than a process manifesting through the cultural sphere. One could go so far as to argue that art must exist in order for culture to emerge in the first place.”
The art that is left to us through history gives a glimpse of our shared humanity across time and across cultures. We get to see a forgotten part of ourselves, something reaching deeper into what it means to be human.
Comments are welcome!
* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
Salieri wrote a memoir of his own, which his friend Ignacio von Mosel used as the basis for a biography, published in 1827. Salieri’s original document disappeared, but Mosel quoted parts of it. One anecdote is particularly winning. Salieri is recounting the premier, in 1770, of his second opera, “Le Donne Letterate” (“The Learned Woman”). The applause is vigorous, prompting the young composer to follow the audience out into the street, in the hope of soaking up more praise. He overheard a group of operagoers:
“The opera is not bad,” said one. “It pleased me right well,” said a second (that man I could have kissed). “For a pair of beginners, it is no small thing,” said the third. “For my part,” said the fourth, “I found it very tedious.” At these words I struck off into another street for fear of hearing something still worse.
Any creative person who has made the mistake of surreptiously canvassing public opinion will identify with Salieri’s fatal curiosity.
Alex Ross in Salieri’s Revenge in The New Yorker, June 3, 2019
Comments are welcome!