Thursday, July 14, 2011


We struggle to mine the ore of experience and to express the inexpressible, and from that struggle art, poetry and music are made.

DB - The Vagabond
My first real acquaintance and understanding of the artist's struggle came when I was a teenager and went to see an exhibit of paintings and drawings by Arshile Gorky. Gorky was not his real name. He was born Vostonik Adoyan in Turkey sometime in the early 20th Century, the date is not certain. He was Armenian and when the cruel genocide of Armenians took place he fled to New York City. He had a short life (44 years), his works spanned from Impressionism, through Cubism and into Abstract Expressionism and in that mode he became a pioneer and great influence on other painters.

Gorky had a troubled life. His mother died in his arms from starvation. He and his father were separated. He never achieved financial independence, although his works were well known in art circles and he could not have the family he always wanted. The struggles of a sensitive, creative man to express the inexpressible are clearly seen in his paintings. I saw them that day in the museum. But I did not realize at the time, in my boyishness, how deeply into my being Gorky's vision was reaching.

Since that day I have come to find the same struggle in other artists, like Hoffman and de Kooning, composers like Beethoven, Bartok and Schoenberg.

Gradually I began to discover how important to my own career the struggles of my life had become. No one should ever seek out pain, deprivation and misfortune simply as a background upon which to hang one's creative life. Misfortunes come to everyone. For an artist the worst is to be scoffed, to have one's work scorned and ignored even in the face of great appreciation by one's peers. The artist's creative imagination, when focused on the right ideals, soars at the highest level of human experience, gently contemplating heaven's door.

The artist is always reaching. There is a reaching down into the ore of one's life, trying to bring up sense, answers, truth and something beautiful, and a reaching above to grasp and understand the inextinguishable fire that flashes with spirit and genius and is always just out of reach. As a result the artist is a Tantalus. The art lover, the audience member can never experience the artist's desperate reaching, all they know are the results of that struggle. But that's where the art comes from.

DB - Vagabond Journeys
Never give up.


It's a long, hot, sticky summer, so here's a hot, sticky question for you. Don't let the recent New York State decision rob you of your thunder.

Same sex marriage. Should it be legal or not? If so, why? If not, why not?

8 answers so far.

You have until the last day of summer, but don't dally.
I eagerly await your answer.



Jon said...

What you have written is very true. The many struggles and misfortunes that I've experienced have made me a more introspective and mature person. I certainly wouldn't want to go through the terrible times again, but they've given me a completely new perspective of myself and those around me. I suppose suffering eventually makes us see things more clearly (I hope this makes some sense!).

krissy knox said...

Just sitting down to read another one of your posts, db

btw, john says he likes beethoven and bartok. we'll have to check out schoenberg. and the artists.

we did take a look at gorky's work. i like the use of his color and the fluid movement of his paintings.

oh, and take this as a compliment, db, a huge one, i see gorky's influence in your work! :)

anyway, getting to the subject of your blog post, yes, artists do struggle. i can't say i could even begin to know, as i don't consider myself a great artist, just a teeny weeny one. but i do think that an artist of any sort, even a small one, does know that other artists suffer, and immensely. merely a thought. no, i could never know how gorky suffered, but yes, i know artists suffer. it's just part of life, i guess. and i agree with jon. suffering is there for a purpose. oh well, LOL.
krissy knox

here is John's comment as he is sitting next to me, db --

I think it is hard for others to realize how hard it is to be an artist.
john knox