Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Artist's Fight With Art

The first stage in the growth of an artist is that which we have described as his "nomination" and which marks the subordination of the individual to one of the prevailing art-ideologies, this usually showing itself in the choice of some recognized master as the ideal pattern. In doing so, he becomes the representative of an ideology, and at first his individuality vanishes, until, later, at the height of his achievement, he strives once more to liberate his personality from the bonds of an ideology which he has himself accepted and helped to form...Every production of a signifigant artist, in whatever form, and of whatever content, always reflects more or less clearly this process of self-liberation and reveals the battle of the artist against the art which expresses a now surmounted phase of the development of his ego...From the moment the work is taken over and recognized by the public, it ceases to be the possession of the artist, not only economically but spiritually. Just as the artist created it from his own needs, the public accepts it to alleviate their own wants...(It) ceases to be the personal achievement of the individual  and becomes a symbol for others and their spiritual demands...Thus general recognition of the artist and his work is the spiritual counterpart to his own asserted claim to be an artist; the latter is a gesture of independence, whereas fame, which is something granted to him, again makes him dependent...Many artist's return artistically or at least spiritually, to an earlier period of their struggle for success...Here there is obviously a rejuvenation wish, for fame has the flavour of death, and immortality is only distinguished by two small letters from the arch-evil they dread...The individual may, by his nomination to be an artist, have asserted his independence of the human community and rooted himself in self-sufficient isolation; but ultimately he is driven by the work he has autonomously produced to surrender again to that community...The community annexes the man and his work, depersonalizes him, and thus really robs him of the fruit of his work- in return for which he is offered the distinction of fame.

-from "Art and Artist" by Otto Rank