A work of art is a creature which beckons, points and leads the way. But if we see it as merely a thing in itself we are still lost.
DB - The Vagabond
A CEO of a major American oil company was quoted as saying that he had never given a dollar to any cultural cause in his life, that he never would and he was proud of it. That man is truly lost.
Probably nothing and no group of people suffer from as much criticism, prejudice, misunderstanding, misinterpretation and maligning as art and artists do. I know I have written about the inane habit many people have of not being able to separate the actor from the role he plays. The man who plays the clarinet does not go around all day with a clarinet in his hands. Why should a man who plays a villain go around all day with villainy in his heart? It makes no sense.
Books have been burned or banned from library shelves, paintings have been taken off the walls, statues have been destroyed or covered up, not because of what they are but because of what an ignorant person or group of people think they are.
A work of art can be pleasing and enjoyable on a very simple level, but, yes, sometimes it can be dangerous. But the danger is primarily in its prophetic abilities.
When Pierre Beaumarchais wrote his trilogy of plays about Figaro in the 1770s the hero was a barber, a common man. The aristocrats came and laughed. They were so amused at the idea of a commoner being able to control a nobleman and his family, something they knew would never happen. But within a short time there were revolutions, and near revolutions, in which the common people took over the reins from the oppressive, conservative, aristocratic governments all over Europe and America. Did Beaumarchais' plays cause those revolutions? No. They pointed to them.
Plato says somewhere that when the modes of society change the modes of music always change first. When Arnold Schoenberg developed the twelve tone theory of music compostion in the 1920s in which equal importance was given to each tone of the scale it erased the traditional method of keys with their inner harmonic relationships. There were plenty of polemics about Schoenberg's music but was he preaching Socialism or predicting it?
In the 1940s New York City became the center of the art world with the rise of AbstractExpressionsism and artists such Arshile Gorky, Franz Kline and Hans Hoffman. And what was it telling us? The world had just been torn to shreds by the second world war, culminating in the massive destruction of two civilizations by atomic bombs. Life would never be the same. Painting became nonpolitical and nonobjective. A work of art no longer had to be about something. It became the reality of the artists' emotional and subconscious lives. It was a completely personal revolution, a modern version of the rise of the common man, his thoughts, feelings and experiences. It was now a true communication, as it had always been, but without the limitations of tradition, a communication from the artist to the viewer, one on one.
That revolution made it's way into poetry, theatre, music and dance. And I think that's where the finger was pointing. Freedom. Freedom of expression. Freedom of speech. Freedom from boundaries and limitations. You don't have to paint abstract art or compose twelve tone music. But you can if you want to. It's personal. Your choice. The revolution is still going on (but don't tell the aristocrats or that CEO).
Now there is electronics: computer graphics, electronic music or electronically altered traditional music (rock bands) and massive and complicated special effects in films. What is that pointing to?
The best way to view a work of art is to ask what it is saying to you. Don't make assumptions. Take time and let its message speak. Congratulate yourself. The artist is talking to you. YOU.
DB - The Vagabond
I enjoy your hugs.
This is not a contest.
A young man out west just took home 88 million dollars from the lottery.
Whether you play the lottery or not, if you suddenly had 88 million dollars, or the equivalent of whatever your currency is, what are the first three things you would do with it?
You have all summer to answer if you wish.
20 responses so far.