The point of art

From a book I’m currently reading:

“But art, if it means awareness of our own life, means also awareness of the lives of other people – for style for the writer, no less than colour for the painter, is a question not of technique but of vision: it is the revelation, which by direct and conscious methods would be impossible, of the qualitative difference, the uniqueness of the fashion in which the world appears to each one of us, a difference which, if there were no art, would remain forever the secret of every individual. Through art alone we are able to emerge from ourselves, to know what another person sees of a universe which is not the same as our own and of which, without art, the landscapes would remain as unknown to us as those that may exist on the moon. Thanks to art, instead of seeing one world only, our own, we see that world multiply itself and we have at our disposal as many worlds as there are original artists, worlds more different one from the other than those which revolve in infinite space, worlds which, centuries after the extinction of the fire from which their light first emanated, whether it is called Rembrandt or Vermeer, send us still each one its special radiance.”


4 thoughts on “The point of art

  1. CuriosityKiller March 28, 2008 / 11:17 am

    Great quote, Simon. Also I find most fascinating is how art has transformed the world that we live in…. because of the imagination of the original artists, the world becomes defined by it… not only does art interprets the world around us, art also shapes the world that we know. It’s most curious phenomenon. Makes me proud to be human.


  2. simonlitton March 28, 2008 / 11:19 am

    That reminds me of something Oscar Wilde (I think) said about how life always disappointed him in comparison to great art. He found real-life sunsets and landscapes invariably inferior to the versions produced by impressionist painters…


  3. V-Grrrl March 28, 2008 / 5:28 pm

    Love this.

    The ability to capture not just a scene or an image or an impression but to imbue it with feeling, give it a tone, a message, a sense that transcends the media and subject is what art is for me. Great art is a paradox; it’s universal AND unique.


  4. Di March 30, 2008 / 6:53 am

    Love this too.


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