Is Art Justified?

February 25, 2017

Pot of yellow primroses

Pot of yellow primroses

“There is not a significant artist in the world who is not asking himself whether his art is justified — not on account of the quality of his talent, but on account of the relevance of art to the demands of the time in which he is living.”
— John Berger, from “Revolutionary Undoing,” Landscapes: John Berger on Art

“There is vitality, a life force, energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique.  And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost.  The world will not have it.  It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable or how it compares with other expressions.  It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.  You do to even have to believe in yourself or your work.  You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you.  Keep the channel open.”
— Martha Graham, from Martha: The Life and Work of Martha Graham by Agnes de Mille

Quotes like these help me to feel better about making art.  I sometimes feel my paintings are frivolous when each morning the news is full of serious and worrisome threats to a peaceful world.



6 Responses to “Is Art Justified?”

  1. Irene Says:

    It is also how you find your inner calm and share that calm with others. Thank you.

  2. Laura Says:

    Thank you for sharing these valuable quotations about whether it’s frivolous to make art in these times. It seems to me that art-making is the essence of being human. The powers that be want to stamp out human-ness and make us all into below-minimum-wage machines that work around the clock and don’t think or feel. Making art is a living demonstration of our essential humanity. It’s one reason that I’ve been loving listening to classical music lately as well. It’s comforting to know that art and music have outlived oppressors throughout time.

  3. kittybluhm Says:

    Yes. And your posts bring a certain “uplift” everyday — helping create balance with all those “other messages” coming in these days. Thank you for this.

  4. carolyn cochran Says:

    Art is one of the ways I express my love for the world. That has to be a good thing!

  5. barefootroot Says:

    Art and music keep us going…we need blogs like yours to help us cope with all this chaos in the world!

  6. djemmand Says:

    I always find doing art helps me get centered and its so true that art is all about that unique self expression.

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