Art in Vain

"An artist is a man who tries to express the inexpressible. He struggles and suffers knowing that he can never realise his most perfect ideal.” - Alvin Langdon Coburn, 1916

I think that Coburn was right to some degree. Without stating the obvious, he implies that the artist will never be content with his art. What I disagree about Coburn's statement is that his reason for discontent is based on his assumption that man's intelligence will continue to expand in the light of more perfect knowledge of himself and the universe. I think that it is precisely this expansion of man's knowledge that he talks about that will drive man to despair and anxiety. As I look at myself and as soon as I'm past my physiology, and if I am truly honest with my assessment, the more I learn about my condition and the environment I am in, the more things don't make sense. The more I strive to achieve the perfect art form, the more I realize that such pursuit will likely result in vain.


Martin Luther said…
I think artists are the most egotistical people. I know that I am one.
ludee said…
i dont agree with the second part of his statement! though, its true that what we want is to always express, understand and grasp the unknown, inexpressible
Rob Castro said…
Day, thanks for your visit... we may not entirely agree with Coburn but I think his sentiment is genuine and reaches out across the board. He was still optimistic about how things would change because of technology, which he thought would allow the artist to express himself more freely. Some artists after him abandoned his way of thinking and left everything to chance. They argued that the process of free style was more important than the result.
Anonymous said…
Hi Rob, sorry I haven't dropped in for a long while. Have been untangling myself from the web. I think it is that unobtainable standard that drives an artist. Whether it involves suffering is a choice , struggling - definitely. This has always been one of my favorite shots , I see it as a man stripped down. Hope all is well.
Rob Castro said…
Hi Tony... good to hear from you. OI suppose suffering can be a choice as one can walk away from it. Many existentialists like Camus and Satre thought that would be an act of cowardness.

Like you, yea this is one of my fave shots. I've always been fascinated in simplifying things. On this one, I think I've achieved modest success. At least I'm quite content with the result. No suffering here. Just angst. And some anxiety. But I'm a basket case, so that is to be expected.

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