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January 25, 2020 / Congau

The Artist Liberator

Great art is always renewal. It liberates itself from the shackles of its predecessors, rises from the routine of incessant copying and creates true originality.

But this doesn’t mean what you might think. An artist who aspires to greatness doesn’t have to be an inventor of new techniques, come up with revolutionary subjects or employ an entirely different style. In fact, great masters of the past have seemingly followed in the footsteps of their teachers appearing to stick to the subject matter and by no means commencing any new art movement. But still, they were creators of great originality. How?

Originality doesn’t require the invention of a new genre of art. In classical Athens annual theater competitions were held where playwrights submitted works that had to conform to strict rules. No radical deviations from the standard could be accepted, but within these constraints masterpieces of world literature were created.

Religious art in Medieval and Renaissance Europe saw an endless repetition of the same themes. The “Madonna and Child” kept recurring and surely there were many uninteresting copies among them, but a few, like the Sistine Madonna, stand out as one of the most sublime pieces in art history. It is certainly original, but not in an obvious external way.

When there is great originality in a piece of art, it is found in the moment of artistic creation. Anyone can come up with a new subject, paint something that has never been painted before or use a material no one else has used, but that doesn’t make him an original artist – it doesn’t even make him an artist.

The greatness and originality of an artist is asserted when such external matters as subject and material are already given; his genius his shown in the way he makes use of what is handed out to him and in his unique way of responding to a particular challenge. He does the same thing differently and that’s how he is a liberator.

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