An artist is the magician put among men to gratify–capriciously–their urge for immortality. The temples are built and brought down around him, continuously and contiguously, from Troy to the fields of Flanders. If there is any meaning in any of it, it is in what survives as art, yes even in the celebration of tyrants, yes even in the celebration of nonentities. What now of the Trojan War if it had been passed over by the artist’s touch? Dust. A forgotten expedition prompted by Greek merchants looking for new markets. A minor redistribution of broken pots. But it is we who stand enriched, by a tale of heroes, of a golden apple, a wooden horse, a face that launched a thousand ships–and above all, of Ulysses, the wanderer, the most human, the most complete of all heroes–husband, father, son, lover, farmer, soldier, pacifist, politician, inventor and adventurer…
The longer Ellen Cherry thought about it, the more convinced she became that the mission of the artist in an overtechnologized, overmasculinized society was to call the old magic back to life.Could it be done? Yeah, you pessimistic wimps, it could. Could she do it? Probably not, but she could give it a whirl.
USURY: Everybody’s looking for the job in which you never have to pay anyone their pound of flesh. Self-employed nirvana. A lot of artists like to think of themselves as uncompromising; a lot of management consultants won’t tell you what they do until they’ve sunk five pints. I don’t think anybody should give themselves air just because they don’t have to hand over a pound of flesh every day at 5pm, and I don’t think anyone should beat themselves with broken glass because they do. If you’re an artist, well, good for you. Thank your lucky stars every evening and dance in the garden with the fairies. But don’t fool yourself that you occupy some kind of higher moral ground. You have to work for that. Writing a few lines, painting a pretty picture – that just won’t do it.
If there’s a thing, a scene, maybe, an image that you want to see real bad, that you need to see but it doesn’t exist in the world around you, at least not in the form that you envision, then you create it so that you can look at it and have it around, or show it to other people who wouldn’t have imagined it because they perceive reality in a more narrow, predictable way. And that’s it. That’s all an artist does.
Well, Daddy, I used to believe that artists went crazy in the process of creating the beautiful works of art that kept society sane. Nowadays, though, artists make intentionally ugly art that’s only supposed to reflect society rather than inspire it. So I guess we’re all loony together now, loony rats in the shithouse of commercialism.
Beauty! Wasn’t that what mattered? Beauty was hardly a popular ideal at that jumpy moment in history. The masses had been desensitized to it, the intelligentsia regarded it with suspicion. To most of her peers, ‘beauty’ smacked of the rarefied, the indulgent, the superfluous, the effete. How could persons of good conscience pursue the beautiful when there was so much suffering and injustice in the world? Ellen Cherry’s answer was that if one didn’t cultivate beauty, soon he or she wouldn’t be able to recognize ugliness. The prevalence of social ugliness made commitment to physical beauty all the more essential. And the very presence in life of double-wide mobile homes, Magic Marker graffiti, and orange shag carpeting had the effect of making ills such as poverty, crime, repression, pollution, and child abuse seem tolerable. In a sense, beauty was the ultimate protest, and, in that it generally lasted longer than an orgasm, the ultimate refuge. The Venus de Milo screamed ‘No!’ at evil, whereas the Spandex stretch pant, the macrame plant holder were compliant with it. Ugly bedrooms bred ugly habits. Of course, it wasn’t required of beauty that it perform a social function. That was what was valuable about it.
Mockingbirds are the true artists of the bird kingdom. Which is to say, although they’re born with a song of their own, an innate riff that happens to be one of the most versatile of all ornithological expressions, mocking birds aren’t content to merely play the hand that is dealt them. Like all artists, they are out to rearrange reality. Innovative, willful, daring, not bound by the rules to which others may blindly adhere, the mockingbird collects snatches of birdsong from this tree and that field, appropriates them, places them in new and unexpected contexts, recreates the world from the world. For example, a mockingbird in South Carolina was heard to blend the songs of thirty-two different kinds of birds into a ten-minute performance, a virtuoso display that serve no practical purpose, falling, therefore, into the realm of pure art.
After the monkeys came down from the trees and learned to hurl sharp objects, they had had to move into caves for protection–not only from the big predatory cats but, as they began to lose their monkey fur, from the elements. Eventually, they started transposing their hunting fantasies onto cave walls in the form of pictures, first as an attempt at practical magic and later for the strange, unexpected pleasure they discovered in artistic creation. Time passed. Art came off the walls and turned into ritual. Ritual became religion. Religion spawned science. Science led to big business. And big business, if it continues on its present mindless, voracious trajectory, could land those of us lucky enough to survive its ultimate legacy back into caves again.
Berlin was charismatic in the roguish way of a love… It was a lover who was a little dangerous in ways that didn’t always show, keeping you a bit on edge, a bit in love and endlessly forgiving because he made her feel that she was exactly where she was meant to be… Berlin made you like who you were when you were there, as if everything worth being a part of in the world – all those modern ideas about sex and art and women; all that possibility – was right there, in its dark, beating heart.
No purer artist exists or has ever existed than a child freed to imagine. […]To drive children into labour is to slaughter artists, to scour deathly all wonder, the flickering dart of imagination eager as finches flitting from branch to branch – all crushed to serve grown-up needs and heartless expectations. The adult who demands such a thing is dead inside, devoid of nostalgia’s bright dancing colours, so smooth, so delicious, so replete with longing both sweet and bitter – dead inside, yes, and dead outside, too. Corpses in motion, cold with the resentment the undead bear towards all things still alive, all things still warm, still breathing.Pity these ones? Nay, never, never so long as they drive on hordes of children into grisly labour, then sup languid of air upon the myriad rewards.
Fine art refers to an accomplished or advanced skill being used to testify and reveal the knowledge, ability, and wisdom of the creator. There is no art more exquisite than the work of the Master Artist Himself. Even those who choose to deny Him credit for His own creation are often engaged as an admirer of His work. Refusing to acknowledge the Source will never minimize His glory or extinguish the truth.With God’s loving guidance our life can be a great masterpiece filled with beauty, adventure, hope and purpose.
The tools are real. The viewer is real, you, the artist, is real and a part of everything you paint. You connect yourself to the viewer by sharing something that is inside of you that connects with something inside of him. All you have as your guide is that you know what moves you. All you have to do it with is a brush, some chemical and canvas, and technique.
We must change life,’ the poet [Rimbaud] had written, and so the Situationists set out to transform everyday life in the modern world through a comprehensive program that included above all else the construction of ‘situations’ — defined in 1958 as moments of life ‘concretely and deliberately constructed by the collective organization of a unitary ambiance and a play of events’ — but that also necessary entailed the supersession of philosophy, the realization of art, the abolition of politics, and the fall of the ‘spectacle-commodity economy.