Art as Life
An Aesthetic Manifesto
- Art is not the opposite of life but its complement.
- Art involves the whole person.
- Art is hard labour.
- Art is a higher form of play.
- Everyone is an artist, or should be.
- Art is free of purpose: it is not a tool.
- A real work of art is shaped by beauty and truth.
- The style is part of the story.
- True art is genuine; great artists are original.
- The work of art is a world in itself.
- Art develops with civilisation.
- Art is the language of the soul: the language of despair.
- Art is not the opposite of life but its complement. Art is the second world we all live in; it is the second life of each one of us. Art is not a virtual world: it is as material as the first one, irrespective of its medium. Art is not an imaginary life: It is as real as the first one, and almost as important, whether we acknowledge it or not.
- Art involves the whole person. The creative process relies on talent as well as skill, intuition as well as intelligence, emotion as well as experience. It is not the one-sided person who is most fertile – it is the well-rounded person. It is not the person lacking life who loves art – it is the person overflowing with life.
- Art is hard labour. Art demands application and involves skill, but it is more than a craft, it cannot be learnt like a trade. It demands more than craft and it yields more. Art also makes demands on the recipient, whether he or she is aware of it or not: as the composer and the choreographer contribute to the creation, so the musician and the dancer, and so the spectator.
- Art is a higher form of play. As perpetual play, art is as vital to human existence as the air. All children are natural artists, as long as their life is mainly play. Art is driven out of people as part of their education, as an attempt to control their minds, to impose uniformity, to reinforce the established order.
- Everyone is an artist, or should be. The difference between artist and non-artist is one of circumstance and degree. Some are more talented than others, some are more versatile, more intense, more willing; but all people are creative, all are craftspeople in their way, and all are artists in waiting.
- Art is free of purpose: it is not a tool. A work of art need not serve a purpose, nor can it be spoilt by being created for a purpose or being employed for a purpose. The work of art must follow its own logic and fulfil its own purpose, even if this is the logic of dreams or the purpose of dance.
- A real work of art is shaped by beauty and truth. Its beauty lies in its structure, not necessarily in its subject or appearance: in the form rather than the matter. Its truth lies in its message, not necessarily its factual correctness. The subject might be miserable, the material ugly, the story invented, or the conclusion uneasy: a real work of art would still be beautiful and truthful.
- The style is part of the story. Artists or movements express themselves in their style as much as their message. A work of art is irreducible and incomparable like a human face. The key to someone’s art lies in his or her personality. Those who last have dared to assume their greatness.
- True art is genuine; great artists are original. Art cannot be explained from the society and history it sprang from, nor from the life and ideas of the artist who formed it. The artist’s mind is informed by the history and art of the past, his or her life is a part of a certain society, his or her personality is an example of a people’s mentality; yet it is only this person in the world who could produce this œuvre, only this group who could develop this style.
- The work of art is a world in itself. It mirrors life like a pearl; it is a garden inviting us in for a moment of respite, or amusement, or terror and awe. A work of art can never get sufficiently explained nor ever get entirely exhausted. It can stand on its own, a creation of the human mind inspiring wonder like a creature of nature.
- Art develops with civilisation. It evolves like nature does, but man as its maker has power over its direction. It is creativity rather than reason that distinguishes humans. It is art rather than power that creates civilisation. Man is indeed a maker: not through his skill and knowledge alone but through a vision of ever new things, a lure of ever new horizons.
- Art is the language of the soul: the language of despair. Art is a futile attempt at communication and a ceaseless search for meaning. Art often replaces life, both for the artist and for the art lover, and more and more often, it also replaces religion. In an ideal society, art would be a way of life and a form of religion.
3.3.2014 Christina Egan