Friday Oct 29, 2004

Premodern Artists

Art for art’s sake.

What does it mean? Art for art’s sake has different interpretations. According to many anthropologists, the individual artist, as we know her today, did not exist in premodern societies.

Tribal cultures used art as a collective instrument to please the gods, the earth, and to bind the group. There was not a Jackson Pollack to speak of among the whole lot—this is a distinction, not a comparison. 

The anthropological conclusion, which may be factual, does not preclude the individual creator from those “primitive” cultures.

While I can’t prove it empirically, I intuitively know there were artists in those premodern societies who did not have the opportunity for individual expression, which is not that far afield of contemporary drones working nine to five in the 21st century.» 

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