Friday, January 29, 2010

Magnum Opus

We (humans) are always asking "what was your favorite...?", at the movies, the museum, talking about books and music. People are obsessed about finding out from each other what their favorite song is or their favorite food, painting, actor, artist. After a recent trip to a museum, the normal banter took place; "What was your favorite piece that you saw?". It created a whole new set of questions. How does one choose a "favorite?" What is the criteria? Can one be objective? Or is it a whim? "Today I liked the Picasso." "I thought the VanderWeyden was magnificent."
It raises the question for us as artists that we are constantly trying to create a "great" piece. They can't all be great. Yet it is the striving for something special, a hint of the eternal or spiritual or that sublime something that seems the quest of makers. Why does one aspire to greatness or care to be compared amongst the gigantic looming shadow of History? Certainly ego enters into the picture. But that can not be the only answer. It is far too simple.
On a daily basis, we don't think of this. We make and sometimes the outcome is good, sometimes not. But in the soup of everyday making, we are incapable of deeming something indelible. It is with the passage of time, the opinion of the few, and the endurance of the work that are the judges of what becomes "important." After all, even the educated are subjective.
So, we just keep making. Always striving to create something better than the last one. It is the struggle and the striving for betterment that makes us human. The pursuit, subconsciously, of the Magnum Opus, the defining work. We certainly won't know if or when we have made that piece, but we might get a glimpse when we hear "Oh, that one is my favorite".

1 comment:

mairedodd said...

i really loved this post... and what is so ironic is that as we ourselves grow in different ways, learn and refine techniques, so our work evolves... is there ever a best? or do we do our best to make manifest something born in the mind? i know my work is more like a time stamp - an example of what i was able to do at the time... not imagine, but execute... your work is inspiring - as is your collaborative system...