Friday, April 22, 2005
Subject: Art and the Artist's Dilemma
Time: 3:33:00 PM EDT
Music: Do Noubt, oops No Doubt, got typing dyslexia today
I've been thinking about writing a longish post about artists and the infamous "artist's temperament" or disposition. I've done a couple of online searches just to see what pops up, and there have been a couple of interesting articles but not exactly what I'm looking for. Maybe I'll search some more later, but for now I'm just jotting down some of my preliminary ideas.
Last year I read a book called, Lives of the Muses: Nine Women and the Artists They Inspired, by Francine Prose. In addition to the examples in that book of the relationships between artists and their subjects there are many other stories of artists entangled in various types of involvements. It seems almost every artist has encountered at least one person who irrevocably influenced his/her life. I think artists are especially receptive to beauty and to being overwhelmed and consumed by it. Sometimes this makes it impossible to recognize boundaries because the artist often doesn't see boundaries at all. Part of the discomfort of the artist's temperament is that he/she frequently oversteps boundaries and faces the consternation and even scorn of others because of that. But to one who believes that inspiration comes from some divine source, or divine infusion, there is no line that divides. Here's a partial quote from the Prose book, "...isn't it the nature of the divine to transcend corporeal and psychic borders?" Yes, it is. And it does.
I think it's a common experience for artists to 'fall' for their subjects for all these reasons. The artist erases all boundaries to see inside their subject and in the process can become entranced and overcome with the beauty they see there. Sometimes there is one in particular that touches something deep inside unlike any of the others. In the Prose book these people are the muses of the artists. Whether that experience lasts a lifetime or only a little while is probably irrelevant because the impact is lasting.
Another quote from the Prose book:
"And so, once more, we return to the Greeks and to the various examinations and definitions of love and Eros considered in Plato's Symposium: the search for the long-lost half of theself, the desire for good and for beauty, the need to procreate, and to create. For the artists, the love of -- and for-- their muses provided an essential element required for the alchemy of invention, or the fire under the vessel in which talent and technique were melded to produce the gold of art."
Fire under the vessel. I like that phrase. It sounds like a good title for something.