Pearls from artists* # 308July 11, 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.
Art is mysterious because its purpose is unknown and its effect always exceeds the ends we put it to. If it is true, for instance, that nearly all human societies see the possession of artistic objects as a sign of prestige and power, it may simply be because art’s primary quality makes it a suitable sign for those who want to legitimize their authority. And while it may be the case that art ennobles us by bringing beauty into our lives, or that it conveys complex cultural ideas simply and effectively, or that it preserves the beliefs of one age for the next – again, these functions could very well follow from art’s original, mysterious, irreducible shining. Just as it is the gleam of gold that makes it precious in our eye and not its preciousness that makes it gleam, so the primary quality of art could precede all of its uses and appropriations. In other words art may be something before it becomes all the things we claim it to be.
J.F. Martel in Reclaiming Art in the Age of Artifice: A Treatise, Critique, and Call to Action
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