The Art or the Artist?

Sometimes we forget that anything created has a creator. Which is greater, the creator or the thing created? Ask yourself this. Which is more important, the art or the artist who created it?


I’m mainly talking about art or artistic things here. The idea could apply to much larger contexts.

Anything that exists was created, or at least designed, by someone. By saying “someone” I am stating my belief that an AI is not a creator, because it cannot feel inspiration or passion.

Whether it is a picture or a sculpture or music or poetry or a book, it could not exist unless and until an artist created it. In the context I am talking about here, things do not spring into being out of nothing. There was nothing, then an idea formed in the mind of the creator and something was made real.

The creator can do it again

I guess one reason I felt compelled to write this is because I see people behave in ways I consider unthinking. We tend to be enraptured with some work of art as if it was the most wonderful thing in the world. Ignoring the fact that it was created by someone, and that should make them as the creator even more special than the creation.

Yes, if the creator is dead then the work that is left is a singular entity that cannot be duplicated. This would be true of works by Monet or Mozart or Michelangelo. No more will be created. Respect and admire them as unique works of art. and while you’re doing that, consider the genius of the creators who did them.

But the problem I have, even with dead artists, is our tendency to focus on the creation instead of the creator. If you took any work by a living artist and completely smashed it or wiped it out, the artist could create a new one, probably better. Not a replica, but an entirely new work of creation. That is the amazing thing we seem to lose sight of.

The artist created the amazing work we revere. But he can create a new one, maybe better. That puts the creator in the more important role. The created work may be excellent, but the ability of the artist to create it and others is more important.

Way marker

A great work by an artist represents an idea at one point in time. That is, this was what the artist felt and conceived and had the skill to do at the time. Artists grow. Later he might approach a similar work from a whole new point of view or with new materials or techniques he just developed.

So a work by an artist as a young person may be great, but later works show growth and development and change of attitude. The creation of a great piece of art is not a singular event for an artist. That work does not represent the pinnacle of his career or ability. It is just the pinnacle as of then.

The works are way markers along the journey of the artist. Looking back as a retrospective they may change and evolve over the years, along with the artist.

More coming

I think the proper attitude when discovering a piece of art you love is to say “Wow, that is great. I can’t wait to see what you do next!” The artist is the creative engine. The work is the byproduct.

Our attitude should be to encourage and support the artist. To let them continue to tap into their well of creativity and produce new things to amaze the world. If an artist created a great work, it could have been an accident, a one-off. Probably not, though. Greatness seldom comes out of a vacuum.

A great work is evidence that the artist can create great works and we should expect more to come.

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