A society without art

(Klimt & Klee – Bassins de Lumières in Bordeaux (France))

In high school I majored in English as a foreign language and Literature (which included 6 hours of philosophy per week in my final year). How lucky to be pushed to think, argue, wonder, search, meditate, and then produce essays dealing with intangible notions such as the definition of art.

Why do we apply the term “creation” to artistic activity?

Is a work of art a sacred object?

Do you need to be cultured to appreciate a work of art?

Can you blame a work of art for “meaning nothing”?

Is art for everyone?

Should the artist seek to please?

Does the reproduction of works of art harm art?

Is the artist a technician?

Does the work of art teach us anything?

Can we conceive of a society without art? This is a very actual issue. With the new lockdown, France had to shut all its art dealers again : museums, concert halls, cinemas, theatres, libraries, book shops…

(One of the most powerful pieces of music I know)

I am grateful to live in a country which roars and complains because all these places have to be considered as non-essential right now. What a relief to live amongst fellow citizen who fear they’ll suffer from the lack of art in their life. How romantic to have this idea you’d rather catch a deadly disease than stay away from books or a ballet or a play…

(My favourite scene from the movie)

Living in this rural God-forsaken place in a Western corner of France had made me realised how vital it was for me. I feel I need to be reminded of the existence of art over here because any glimpse of it is too often an exclusive portion which only revolves around Brittany. I rarely feel included in what’s to offer and it doesn’t show me the world. Here, art is seen through geographical and cultural blinkers turning the spot lights on the local folklore. But what about the rest of the world? What about the other languages? The other rhythms? The other shades and words?

Have you ever been so deeply touched by a piece of art that it made you cry or shiver (so many pieces of music can pull the trigger for me)? Have you ever experienced the magical feeling of being glued to a movie even if you’re not sure you’ve understood the plot (Mulholand Drive)? Have you ever read a paragraph over and over again because the words were like a perfect dessert? Have you ever forgotten you were in a theatre because the play transported you somewhere else?

For all these reasons I feel grateful to the radio which has filled me in thanks to clever hosts and passionate guests. In the morning I listen to Boomerang presented by Augustin Trapenard a French journalist specialised in culture and literature. How invigorating to listen to directors, illustrators, photographers, writers, or musicians talk about their way of thinking the world around us. How lucky they are to devote their life to creating. How magical to produce emotions with oblivion?

(His words, his voice, his enchanting elocution…)

I miss not thinking enough. Not being stupefied. Not being amazed. Not being questioned. Not being inspired enough.

To life! To beauty! To sensations! To tears! To laughter!

To artistic wish lists…

Monet, Renoir… Chagall.
Voyages en Méditerranée
Du 28 février 2020 au 3 janvier 2021, Atelier des Lumières, Paris

16 thoughts on “A society without art

  1. I think you ask great questions about what creativity is and whether one must be cultured to enjoy it. I am of the belief that creativity isn’t just reserved for art, but also in sciences (e.g. forming a new chemical inventing a new mechanical device, etc), which goes to show that creativity can exist in just about any field out there. I also don’t believe you need to be cultured to appreciate art; I am by no means an expert in art, but I can admire and say that a particular painting or book really touched me. I may not be able to fully explain the technicalities for my reasoning, but sometimes, by simply saying, “That painting looks pretty” is all you need. 😊


    1. It’s interesting how you extracted creativity out of art. Mentioning sciences for example is very interesting as it is the further away from Art you can go as far as I’m concerned.

      And I agree with you about the need to be cultured. My aunt for example, who is a Parisian scholar, would never go to a museum or an exhibition without “working on” her subject. She has this massive collection of art books and magazine and she would read as much as she can on the artist before. I don’t. Sometimes I read about it afterwards if I feel very passionate about something I’ve seen. But I believe the power of art is being touched by the magic of it. Without knowing the ingredients.


  2. Interesting, V! And now I think: are comics art? (The answer is yes.) Can art be wrong? I want to write an essay now!
    I miss art and events most of all for my boys who are missing first experiences. I miss Jazz for Kids free concerts we randomly dropped by at on Saturdays.
    As for the rest, I miss Paris for its never-ending cultural delights…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I miss it too. I was thinking about that while in bed this morning… more than anything I miss being surrounded by beauty. My Instagram feed has never been so… unfed! My eyes are not attracted by architecture or street art anymore. I only post photos when I go somewhere else now.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. We’re facing the same challenges during lockdown in England. Of course we are concerned as a nation first with the health of our people and second with our economy. But many of us fear the impact on our cultural lives. Will cinemas (especially independent ones), theatres, music venues survive ? Will our museums and galleries still be there to welcome us back when this is all over? I choose to live in London to be close to all of this, yet I cannot access it right now. I miss it so!

    But my saviour is TV where I find good films, documentaries and challenging dramas in amongst the light relief that we also need in these times 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh it’s been so long since I went to London…. What a fabulous city you’re dwelling! I understand the frustration not to be able to enjoy it to the fullest.
      Thank God for the BBC excellent programs – and the rest!

      Liked by 1 person

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