Book Review: An Artist’s Book of Inspiration: A Collection of Thoughts on Art, Artists, Creativity

An Artist's Book of Inspiration: A Collection of Thoughts on Art, Artists, Creativity An Artist’s Book of Inspiration: A Collection of Thoughts on Art, Artists, Creativity by Astrid Fitzgerald

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This work is mostly quotations organized into themes. Each chapter has a different theme and the quotes fit into the theme.

The thing that struck me with this book was the preface. Often, not always, but often, I skip the preface just to get straight to the text. In this case, I only glanced through the text and really studied the preface.

I liked the preface because some of the quotes (below) made me think and question what I am seeing:

“Art constantly seeks to redefine itself, to find new and original modes of expression. But have we sometimes sacrificed meaning and essence on the altar of the innovative, the outrageous, and the politically correct?” p.xii

This part of the passage makes me wonder about the symbolism that we don’t understand anymore and whether it is valuable to know it still? For example, in years past, a portrait of a woman may have her holding a flower. Knowing the symbolism or meaning of that flower would give the viewer additional insight into the subject. As well, the items selected for still lives – e.g. the types of fruit – said something about the person who commissioned the work. Have we lost something by not knowing these meanings?

“We live in a postmodern era devoid of artistic standards. The movements of the last thirty years have successfully demystified art and the making of art. The role of art has not been clearly defined in recent times, and artists and students of art rarely gather to examine and discuss the call to creative work.” p.xii

As you can probably tell from my blog, I am glad that the making of art has been demystified and that everyone can make art now. I do worry about what we have lost, however, if anything. I also wonder about what is lost from people not gathering to discuss their calling to creative work? Do we discuss that in our blogs? Is it different from discussing in person? I think I am called to creative work by family tradition and by the need to do something completely different than my day job. I also think that I am called to my work because I can see patterns in improvement and progress, which is not always clear, or acknowledged, in my day job work.

“The art of our time seems to be self-destructive, broadening the gap between audience and the creative output. The eye of the artist has turned to the exterior, to the biennials and the market place, seeing direction, and thus we have art that moves further and further away from our inner nature. As a result, we have art that is based on concept instead of idea and inspiration, art that ends up comment on itself or upon the absence of values.” p.xiii

I find this part thought provoking as well. It makes me want to take another art history course and learn more about contemporary art. I know many contemporary works by their images (Wayne Thiebaud, for example) and not by meaning. A splatter piece of Jackson Pollack’s resides in my mind, but I don’t know the meaning behind it and whether it can be considered self-destructive. I do go to museums on a regular basis and often don’t understand the contemporary works just by looking at them. My impression is that a lot of contemporary work requires study.

This passage also provokes questions. “is art moving away from artists’ inner nature as more artists come on the scene and try to sell their work?” Does some external force (galleries, critics, Marketplaces like Etsy) encourage artists to move away from what they want to make towards what artists think they should make?

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