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Old 11-04-2003, 11:54 PM   #1
Gene Snyder Gene Snyder is offline
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No More Second-Hand Art

Hello All,

I just finished re-reading/skimming the extremely LONG thread that started with a vote on Lucien Freud's painting of the Queen and transformed into the Picasso/Modern Art debate. Now, I'm not trying to "stir the pot" again or beat that horse, but there is a book that I read several years ago titled No More Second-Hand Art by Peter London that made me look at art in a whole new light or at least let me become more "tolerant" of other forms of art that I used to think were somehow "beneath" what I thought great art was. The thoughts, ideas, and reflections in this book deeply affected me and how I look at art. My ideas about art and my own creative process changed greatly after reading this book. If you get a chance, give the book a try and leave your comments here.

London explains that the only way to create true art is through a "self-indulgent" process. He urges the artist to dig deep inside of his or her self and become the center of their own art. By eliminating all outside influences, the artist has no one to challenge them other than their own spirit. The distracting elements of competition and comparision with other artists are removed and the artist is alone to find his or her own connection with the world.

London states a characteristic of art that all artists should recognize is its power. He explains that "The root and full practice of the arts lies in the recognition that art is power, an instrument of communion between all that is important, all that is sacred" (11). London's idea is re-enforced with a quote from Joseph Zinker's book, Gestault Therapy. Zinker writes, 'Art is prayer - not the vulgarized notations handed down to us in the scriptures, but a fresh vital discovery of one's own special presence in the world' (13).

London describes a series transformations that the artist will go through in freeing their creative, spiritual powers. He calls these transformations "Creative Encounters" and suggests that the artist keep a deep and open mind when experiencing them. He says that the creative encounter is a "challenge whose nature is such that the only place to turn to for its exploration is inward. No borrowed answer will do because no one other than yourself could possibly "know" the answer. The effort to respond fully to the engagement sharpens perception, opens the eyes, increases the ambition to engage ever deeper and broader issues, and infuses subsequent efforts with vitality" (78).

I agree entirely with the above statement. I feel that art is not about competition or status, yet there are many instances where this cannot be avoided. Art shows, contests, and competitions destroy the original intentions of art. It does further one's career, however, how can a work of art be judged by anything other than technical ability? To judge it by anything else would surely be misinterpreting what the artist's intent was and, even worse, robbing the artist of his or her voice.

I found London's book to be a great introduction for looking "inward" rather than "outward" for inspiration and subject matter for my art. It raised questions about where my art was going and its importance to my unique view of the world.

Again, give it a read and tell us what you think here.

Cheer and Happy Creating!
Gene Snyder
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