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.
In the images [the paintings of the Chauvet cave in southern France] this prehistoric people have bequeathed to us, we get a glimpse of something like a shared humanity, but we also gaze into a stranger part of ourselves, something reaching to the depths. Since we do not know the context in which the paintings were made, we cannot in good faith chalk them up to some clear pragmatic end. We are seeing art in its naked state, deprived of any discernible appropriation. This can trouble our secular sensibilities since it confronts us not just with the mysteries of nature, but more strikingly still with the riddle of the presence of such things as us in the otherwise coherent physical world. Given the fact that the molecular chemistry that makes life possible is the same throughout the cosmos, would finding works of art on Mars or a remote planet be any more uncanny than finding them here on Earth?
J.F. Martel in Reclaiming Art in the Age of Artifice: A Treatise, Critique, and Call to Action
Comments are welcome!