This exceedingly liberal idea that everyone is an artist –irrespective of the fact whether they’ve produced any artwork – has never sat well with me, personally. If art is the process of arresting creativity with production that is shared with others, then only a select few qualify as artists. In other words: only the actual is genuine, not the potential.
The idea that we are all artists relies on the idea that art must be intrinsic. However, this ignores the fact that art is a 4000 year old conversation that includes the extrinsic. The intrinsic is subjectivity – i.e., creativity and originality, whereas the extrinsic is influence and dialogue. Without the extrinsic aspect, art devolves into self-indulgence that relates to nobody, a private language utterly incomprehensible to everyone, including the creator herself. It is up to the creator to decide who her influences are and how to communicate to people and establish a dialogue with other artists through her artwork.
The idea that we should be more inclusive of others as artists is that too many people underestimate or deny or fail to explore their drives. However artists aren’t immune to this – that is a human condition nobody can escape. The moment we figure art as a social class thing is the moment we leave aesthetics to the clammy hands of sociologists and ideologues. Art becomes a toy for social theorists to kick around, just another tool for propagandists to install culture programming writ large. However, creativity far exceeds the tiny boxes of class critique, and goes beyond the limited imagination of the ideologue.
Everyone has to go through the gauntlet to become an artist. There are no short-cuts. No excuses. No privilege can help anyone skip the hurdles to become an artist. All the money & tools can never bridge the gap between the talentless and the talented.
Art is up to the artist to create. It is up to the rest of us to judge it – praise it, ignore it, or condemn it. But the minute we take art away from the artists is the minute we contort art to foreign purposes and subvert it to propaganda. The muse is far more capricious than the whims of a social planner could ever imagine.
After all, you aren’t an artist unless a muse – be it an inconstant lover or a cruel demoness – visits you.
(ETA) here are more in-depth links about art:
Genealogy of Modern Art
Aesthetics of Art
2 thoughts on ““We are all artists.” Really?”
Good thoughts. Enjoyed the read. Agreed with most.
But I wonder if your statement, "There are no short-cuts. No excuses. No privilege can help anyone skip the hurdles to become an artist," is contradictory to your last comment about the invalidity of an artist if they don't have a muse.
I believe in life experience as an artist, rather than a personification of inspiration.
You should expand on the muse concept. It'd make good for a blog.
Yes, it's a great subject for a blog. For now I'll say the following:
I see the muse as the eternal feminine, with creative power of anima, something closer to Jungian archetype than the patriarchal bent of Freudian psychology. Generally a muse is the feminine aspect of the male artist. He must have sex with her in order to create new work. She penetrates him through inspiration, inseminates him with a kernel of an idea, and help him gestate it to bring forth from the womb of his mind. The muse is the anima to the male's animus – rather than a subject or a model from real life – but there are physical ones as well as ideal ones.
E.g., Salvador Dali had a physical muse – Elena Ivanovna Diakonova, i.e., Gala. She lived with him for over 50 years, although they didn't have a sexual relationship. Once she was gone, Dali's creativity immediately vanished.
You're right that we must have some life experience in order to make authentic art. However, we all have experiences. Rich ones that can hardly be translated into speech and thus they're lost like tears in rain. The few of us who do develop (or are possessed by a merciless muse) an inner judgment to sift through the experience and mold something out of it are artists/writers. The personification of this process is a romantic one, no doubt, but it doesn't contradict the 'no shortcut' requirement. The muse isn't a short-cut – but a romantic picture of the process.