05 April 2018

A question of obligations

Art is not automotive traffic.

Having set that slice of the obvious upon the trencher of discourse, we consider this approach to an intersection.

There are four lanes. Two left turn lanes, marked [left turn arrow] ONLY; one right turn lane, marked [right turn arrow] ONLY; and a lane in the center for traffic proceeding straight.

That straight-ahead lane does not bear the ONLY legend—but it might as well. The last thing which motorists in the lanes to either the right or left need, is anyone in the straight-ahead lane exercising an impromptu option to turn, in whichever direction.

These rules of vehicular order are useful, indeed they support motorist and pedestrian safety.

Rules do not, typically, serve any such concrete and communal purpose, in the realm of Art.

The literature of the history of art criticism is bestrewn with dicta which begin Art must, or The Artist should ... must or must not, should or should not. Phooey.

I'm not saying that such statements are never of interest, never illuminative;  particularly when made by an artist, they give an indication of that artist's mind. And for an artist to do her or his work, setting out what one wishes to do (which can partly be shaped by what one does not wish) is an obvious necessity.

But they're not Commandments. No, not even back in the epochs when such artistic pronouncements really were intended as such.

That which the Artist wishes to do—that is what she or he ought. For that is how the best work is wrought.

Do others share a part in shaping the Artist's work? Certainly—by engaging the mind and heart, not by compelling the result.

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