Contradictions – Mollie

Paula’s last post touches on what I think is an irresolvable paradox in art.

In one way, it’s crucial that we artists are paid for our efforts; it’s part of a general sense of self-respect and validates a lifetime of hard work.

But on the other hand, the value we create in art is not only separate from the monetary system, it runs counter to it. Money bears absolutely no intrinsic worth, while what we value in art is built into – is inseparable from – the object itself. Money’s countability is perhaps its most prominent quality, while a moment of aesthetic beauty is open and variable, often subject to contradictory interpretations.

Early ApolloIn fact, I would even venture that part of our power as artists is our alienation (or freedom) from the dominant culture, from capitalism, from the powers that be. The glory of an aesthetic moment is a transcendence of the worldly, the mundane, the everyday.

To be perfectly clear: I am not advocating evading worldly success as an artist. But I think the paradox is a thorny one that cannot be neatly resolved.

This is a painting of my brother, who is a poet and knows all this intuitively.


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