Pearls from artists* # 303June 6, 2018
*an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
If the majority of aesthetic works fail to astonish us, then. it may have something to do with the ingrained insensitivity that is part and parcel of contemporary life. It may also have something to do with the fact that art, as Solzhenitsyn said so eloquently, is constantly being put to uses that are at odds with its essence. Indeed, the moment a work of art appears, all kinds of other factors come into play. Cultural institutions, social pressures, laws, customs, fashions, and trends pull it in every direction. Fame, money, conformism, attention-seeking, and knee-jerk rebellion can lure artists to abandon their own vision in order to emulate those of others, to adhere to formulas and paint by numbers, or to value external convention over vision. The inevitable result is a lot of bad art that couldn’t astonish anyone. It should come as no surprise, when looking over the glut of aesthetic objects that proliferate around us, if we feel the need to distinguish between authentic and inauthentic art – which is to say, art that astonishes us by attuning us to the radical mystery of being, and art that attempts to reinforce our shared illusions, comforting or intimidating us with the notion that there is nothing to wonder at since everything has been figured out.
J.F. Martel in Reclaiming Art in the Age of Artifice: A Treatise, Critique, and Call to Action
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