"Recognizing the diligence with which death approaches, and trying to recognize also the desirability of her arrival, and to take advantage of such recognition"
Oil, acrylic and pieced canvas on canvas
52 1/2 x 32 inches
Six years ago, a roommate's girlfriend brought home the following Frank Gehry quotation, drawn from his essay "The Relationship Between Art and Architecture."
"The true artist is like a drug addict; he dwells in a tight little dream world all his own, and the men about him, whom he observes obliviously spending their days pursuing money and power, genuinely puzzle him, as he doubtless does them. He prides himself on being an unbribed soul. So he is byway of being a philosopher, too, and sometimes he makes art not because he suspects that so many of the other concerns of men are equally unimportant. Under his smiling coat of tan there often lurks a layer of melancholy and disillusion, a quiet awareness - and acceptance - of the fugitive quality of man and all his enterprises. If he must chase a will-o'-the wisp he prefers that it be art. And so the artist arts. It is at once an act of humility and small rebellion. And it is something more. To him his art is an island of reality in a world of dream and shadow."The girl remarked that, although most of the artists she knew didn't fill Gehry's bill, she'd thought of me when reading the quote. I was flattered. But rereading the passage with the two preceding posts in mind, I'm a bit ashamed.
Art became a commodity in 5th century BC Athens, when particular works by celebrated artisans sold for vaulted prices. Ever since that time, the responsible artist must doubt her calling. Working principally in the service of money, with frayed or broken connections to community, ritual and utilitarian purpose, is an unnerving affair.
It is true, as Gehry states, that the "true artist" is melancholic and disillusioned, but it is not only because he considers the absurdity of existence. He is also aware that art making is now divorced from its root impetus.
Photo credit: courtesy the artist