“Every act of creation is first an act of destruction.”
– Pablo Picasso
Long ago, artists were called on to, more or less, represent the world around them in some form that ennobled the subject at hand. In the Baroque Era, paintings usually depicted either the ruling class or the saints in ways that made mythologies of power real. Music was used to provide dignity to a setting or to magnify the glory of God himself to every heart that pounded along with the moment. Not today.
An artist today is supposed to be someone who pushes the boundaries of our world by creating a new understanding of what it means to be human. The mythology is something otherwise dormant within us. That makes the statement by Picasso, a creator and master practitioner of this view of art, even more troublesome.
I am behind in far too many things, so I hope you don’t mind a repeat from 2011. It’s a question I still find very important.
There are times when it seems as through the world is falling apart. The power of nations and their armies, which has only become greater through the last two generations, seems paralyzed to act in the face of growing unrest and demands for freedom around the world. The best solutions to the frozen uncertainty seems to be in nature, a life closer to the farm and organic. Imagination and the power of the human mind offers another way out once it is unleashed and free to take on the established regimes.
This summary not only describes today, but the world around 220 years ago at the start of what became known as the Romantic Era. It wasn’t romance in the way we usually use the term today, but instead a belief in the power of individuals and their natural instincts. Understanding the movement and where it came from can give us a few clues where we might be going today.