What’s the meaning of it? Its sense? Why did that Altamira Cave man paint those animals, Why? For magical purposes? as a religious act? What was his proposition? To communicate his personal views? Was he mad, as Vincent, did he see something different, that others didn’t? Did he see animals in the abstract? was he the first person to think in the abstract, was he the first man? Was it a kind of pastime, a diversion, a game? Moreover, can we measure it? are there good and bad artists? What defines a great work of art? The recognition of the public? In which way, its quantity or its quality?
I have always been a bit of a dreamer, with a facility to imagine in the abstract, but years ago, when I began to read some poets, and other writers like Borges, Jünger, Neil Gaiman, something strange changed my view. What happened to my eyes? Why did my sight get so clear? Was it something mystical, the beginning of madness? What is the dividing line?
I don’t know if it is schizophrenia, god’s gift or some other matter. Probably I am mad, but what does it matter with ART? Where is the relationship between order, hard work, etc. and the Quality of ART? Was Vincent a calvinist man?
Sam: Absolutely. Read his letters to Theo. Also study the last two years – especially the last two months of his life. The “madder” he got – the more diligent, industrious, hard working and disciplined he became.
Roberto: Which ones of this list, all of them manifestly anarchs, unstable and inconsistent, do you consider not to be great artists?
Thomas de Quincey, Baudelaire, Theophile Gautier, Byron, Orson Welles, Ernest Hemingway, Ken Kesey, William Blake, Walt Whitman, Mozart, Isaac Albeniz, Vincent Van Gogh, Edvard Munch, John Lenon, Camarin, Michaelangelo, Rimbaud, Gaudi, Dali, Jimi Hendrix, Federico Garcia Lorca, Holderlin, Woody Allen.
Sam: This is quite a list. Still I think that it misses the point. Art, by definition, is the surrender of the anarchical spirit to the dictatorship of the format. A painter is limited to his rectangular piece of cloth or cardboard, to his paints, to the maxims of his language, however private. Art is the sad documentation of the capitulation of form to matter, of the subordination of the ethereal to the material. It is a white flag in the ever raging war between the eye of the spirit and the eye of the flesh. Even the most prodigious and insane of writers must sit down, face the sharply limited piece of paper, write in reasonably straight lines and succumb to the most basic rules of grammar, of syntax, of meaning, of alliterative or other resonance. Even the most deranged and non-calvinistic composer can use, as a maximum, the dodecaphonic scale. This is what I meant by order and discipline. They are imposed, inherently, in the very choice to engage in a work of art. Working habits are a natural extension of these spatial and temporal constraints. oil painting