Are we emphasising on sadness and melancholy nostalgia more than happiness for what we define as "good art"


Does anyone feel that there's a prevailing idea that great art is created from depression, sadness, hallucinations and suffering? It's everywhere we look, installations, art, design, books and visual entertainment. We're encouraged to claw through our emotions deep down to "create", this is how we were encouraged back when I was in art college and I feel like that's how every designer and artist I know makes impactful pieces. But surely we need to be harvesting our best emotions and happier memories to share with others. Is happy work not impactful enough?

Feb 14, 17 2:27 am

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What do you want? Romance? 

Feb 14, 17 7:38 am
Non Sequitur
I find happy art boring.
Feb 14, 17 7:45 am

archiwut8, i think you looking at it the wrong way. i will take comedians for example, back when I hung out with ones just getting started....for the most part many were off, mal-adjusted, and not in a positive way. i know that may be a presumed stereotype or possible urban myth, but its pretty much on point. its a bit manic. for an artist who is not constantly creating I would presume you would not be happy right? so this whole "clawing" action is not going deep down but coming out of deep 38 years old I finally realized if i don't "create" something - whether a quick archinect ramble, bansky was not here blog (literally was just reading books and thought - put graffiti on brutalist looking arhitecture), playing an instrument, art projects with my kids, writing fiction, making techno music etc...I get cranky. you are encouraged to fullfill the creative urge. look at it that way, and if you do not fullfill it you get cranky.

Feb 14, 17 7:49 am

actually this a better example - literally no reason whatsoever to do any of it, but carving stone made me feel good. some of the best art i have seen started just as techniques, technical means, and eventually the artist made it meaningful, then you get the backstory......maybe what you are suggesting is your teachers were asking you to get down to come back up? as if the formula was others misfortune of conscioussness must be re-enacted to do good art, that I would find odd as you may be suggesting...for misfortune of conscioussness sylvia plath or van gogh or jim morrison or even friedrich nietzsche come to mind.

Feb 14, 17 8:06 am

You don't have to be tortured to create good work.  I don't know what "happy work" is.  Work is made by showing up and being dedicated on good days and bad - let somebody else judge the result. If you adopt the attitude that you need to be dysfunctional and depressed then you are buying into a fabricated romance.  For every van gogh, there are a hundred artists that didn't cut their ear off.  For architects, people aren't going to trust you with their money unless you have a proven record of delivery or maybe sanity.  You can be normal and make good work.

Feb 14, 17 8:53 am

Showing up and being dedicated. Exactly this. I'll add skilled, too, but the skills can come over time with the dedication.

There is beauty in the horrible. When I look at Lucretia, I know the story, the horror, but the artistry in Rembrandt let's me know the human condition in such a visceral way, that I'm moved in profound ways.

Sunshine and happy, don't really take me there. I'm profoundly suspicious of depictions of happiness, I'm always wondering; who did they murder?
Feb 14, 17 8:59 am

"All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

I made a happy creation yesterday, a Batman figure from play-dough. Go get creative with a 4 year old for a bit, it'll cure ya.

Feb 14, 17 9:12 am

archiwutm8, what kind of art moves you?

Example: I am deeply moved - to tears, even - by Agnes Martin's paintings. They embody every expanse of the human experience and the relentlessness of time to me.  But for a lot of people they're just grids.  I don't' think they could be called "sad" or "happy". That said, Ms. Martin was a deeply neuro-atypical human.


Feb 14, 17 6:12 pm

I enjoy a lot of modern art, and I own many modern art pieces.  But I rarely say that it "moves" me emotionally in the way figurative art does.  I do experience an emotional response to some of it.  Jackson Pollock's greatest paintings are emotional in that way for me, as are Richard Diebenkorn's paintings.

But for a work of art to "move" me, it usually need the kind of symbolic or narrative content that comes with figurative work.  Or it needs to be beautiful in a way that I react to it viscerally.

I look at Agnes Martin's paintings (thanks for the tip - I was unaware of her work.  You learn stuff every day!) and it's very hard for me to understand how they embody the expanse of human experience. They do look like grids to me.  :)

Feb 15, 17 8:52 pm

Judging by the Yeezy Season 5 show at NY Fashion Week, I think at least Kanye agrees with you.

Feb 16, 17 9:11 am
Non Sequitur

Call me old fashion but I find it hard to beat Mark Rothko however, I did get to witness this in person a few years ago while in Madrid:


Now this bus-sized work is human experience.

Feb 16, 17 10:11 am

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