Death Of The Artist

I find myself deeply amused by the question of how one separates art from the artist. Although I find myself to be of a highly different perspective and worldview than most who engage in such matters, the more one knows about artists and their disordered and immoral lives, and the more one knows about the corrupt and abusive behavior of the companies who are responsible for marketing and providing art to the masses, the more it becomes necessary to separate art from the artist to appreciate art at all. That this is true for different reasons for different people is something that I find greatly intriguing, and suggestive of the fact that while different people have different moral standards that the behavior of artists and companies falls short of whatever moral standards someone will have.

Yet most discussions about art and the artist or critical comments about the fact that we depend on companies to provide us the art that we consume and appreciate and resonate with for largely emotional reasons tends to lack sufficient realism. It is easy to make fun of companies and to comment on the fact that companies make a great deal of money on the efforts of creative people. This does not have to be–one can imagine a world without large business engaged in making movies, albums, books, and the like where people create work for themselves without the expectation of making large amounts of money. Such a world does exist in the diy or vanity press market, and so long as one is okay with not making money from being an artist, then one can create the art that one wants without having to care about the distribution channels for that art or the promotion or marketing of one’s art in order to make a living. It is the careerist ambitions of the art that requires there be profit-minded companies to gatekeep what art is going to provide a reward sufficient for the expenses of production, marketing, and promotion.

There are other options for how art is to be funded, but all of them have the same general kind of issues and concerns. In many places and times, it is wealthy patrons that have funded art. At other places and times, art has been funded by the government. At still other places and times art has been funded by religious institutions, churches and temples and the like. In all of these cases, there are similar issues to that of having companies involved with the production and marketing of art. If artists want to have a career in a given field, then someone has to pay them for the production of their art. Those who pay the piper will call the tune, and artists seem unwilling of the reality of the repercussions of their desire to profit from the art that they create. The same is true for others–critics are only valued when someone can profit from one’s criticism, and so on and so forth. For any of us to prosper, the goods and services that we provide must be of interest to someone else, and must receive the active support of those with institutional power. This is not merely a problem in capitalism, but is an issue in any social system that exists. Our creation will not profit us unless it profits someone else as well. We can create in obscurity and (often) poverty and create largely freely in some societies, but we cannot attain influence unless that influence serves the interests of others who have power and whose support is necessary for us to thrive.

Why is this the case? Why is it that the artist is such a problematic figure? In many ways, creativity comes from seeing novel solutions and ideas to problems that exists, finding questions where others find only answers, and this yearning for creativity creates many difficulties. To be creative is to have a different perspective and a different approach than others, regardless of how that creativity is demonstrated and practiced. That desire to distinguish oneself from the common herd and to transgress the boundaries of the normal is going to make one run afoul of others. In such an environment it is easy for people to feel superior to others because of being different, and to hold their own perspective as higher than social standards and laws and standards of morality that are viewed as restraints on one’s art. Yet the transgressive attitudes of artists lead them to be enslaved to their own longings and in a state of constant ambivalence towards the institutions that are necessary for them to profit but which also seek to harness their creativity for institutional power and control. There is no escape from the tensions that are involved in art and creativity. To see oneself as possessing godlike powers of creativity often leads to a rivalry with God and with His authority rather than a respect from one creator to a greater One. The results are as predictable as they are lamentable.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Christianity, Musings, On Creativity and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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