22 Mar

Who is an Artist?

Throughout history, many philosophers, thinkers and artists have thought of what constitutes an artist. In every society, artists have held an important role, which has often not been recognized. They are the ones who give shape to the inner emotions and mechanisms of the human spirit and mind. Artists make the invisible, visible. They turn something that cannot be perceived with our senses and turn it into something we can all relate to. They turn something that would easily dissolve in time, such as an event and carve it in stone.


The Musee Brancusi in Paris, France. Photo from the Liev Vault

But what is the real nature of the artist? Today, as we all have the means or at least access to the means of creative artistic expression, we are all, in one way or another, creators of content. But is this content truly high art? Just because we all have a camera in our pockets and use it to point and shoot, does it mean we’re all artists? Probably not. That would be like saying that every person who plugs in their phone in an outlet is an electrician. Obviously, we are all attached to the things we make, that’s natural and it should be this way. Your private photos will probably have more meaning to you than any fine art photography you will see in a museum. And that’s where we need to make the difference.

True art is something that connects and unites, it’s something we all relate to and that tells a universal story in a sophisticated and subtle way.

Artists have a way of giving something we all do or could do, such as taking a photograph, painting or performing on state, an it-factor, which bridges the soul of the artist with the soul of the consumer and covers the world.

In a way, it’s what we call creativity that feeds our universal and inborn aesthetic need.

In ancient times, the artist was rather freed from his work, which helped him keep his mental state and detach from the high emotions that come with being behind a creative process. It was considered that sometimes, a daemon or spirit of creativity and inspiration would come and place the valuable process in the mind of the artist who would then translate it into a real project. It was only very late, in the 19th century that the concept of the tortured artist appeared, who made art for art’s sake. Once more people started to have access to creating art and art has been democratized, the quality of art has not only reduced, but it has also allowed anyone to be engaged in a creative process they can’t handle.

So then, who is a true artist? There is no one answer to this question. An artist is a master of his craft, he is one who sees things from a distance and can express them through particular cases and he can also be one who gives a high-resolution view of a low-resolution concept. In a way, an artist is the man who walked out of Plato’s cave.


In other words, an artist is someone who can convey a maximum of meaning with a minimum of means, as the saying goes, in a sophisticated and complex manner. And that’s not easy.

Artists should re-find their place in society as, in the words of Theodor Adorno, “the task of art today is to bring chaos into order.” Art is educational, we can learn from it and thus make our lives better.

One of the best definitions of art, and hence the artist, was probably given by Leo Tolstoy in his essay “What is Art?”, who said “Art is not, as the metaphysicians say, the manifestation of some mysterious idea of beauty or God; it is not, as the aesthetical physiologists say, a game in which man lets off his excess of stored-up energy; it is not the expression of man’s emotions by external signs; it is not the production of pleasing objects; and, above all, it is not pleasure; but it is a means of union among men, joining them together in the same feelings, and indispensable for the life and progress toward well-being of individuals and of humanity.”




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