It seems all of my favourite writers, actors, poets, artists, painters, etc… have had some guiding pain in their life that really came out in their work. Take Van Gogh or Elliot Smith, these guys expressed their pain through art, and beautifully. But what about those happy artists, or the artists completely content with life? Are there any? One that comes to mind is Bob Marley. What are your guys’ thoughts on the matter?
Creativity does appear to be produced by angst. – Munjeera3 years ago
Good topic suggestion! It might be worthwhile expanding this idea to take a broader look at the artist/writer's background and upbringing as well, in order to gain some understanding of the origin of that 'pain'. For instance, you mention Van Gogh (who happens to be my favourite painter) - not many know that he was named Vincent, after an earlier sibling who died before he was born, so try to imagine how a sensitive soul like Vincent would feel, growing up, knowing he had been named almost as a replacement for his dead brother. – Amyus3 years ago
I think everyone in life has had their share of pain. Pain is different for different people, but all lives have ups and downs, no matter how steep. people draw from their human experience to create art, which I personally think includes pain. I don't think you have to be depressed to create something special, but pain is often inspiration for innovative creations. – alyssabrown53 years ago
Edmund Wilson certainly saw a connection between suffering and art. He was a famous critic who wrote about that connection in a series of essays under the collection title Wound And The Bow: Seven Studies In Literature. – JamesBKelley3 years ago
I think the important thing to remember in these cases is that art is often known for imitating life, or as a way to relate and provide insight into aspects of our life. Of course there's also the obvious - art is an escape from ourselves. With this in mind, wouldn't it be a fair assumption that life goes through a series of ups and downs, joy and pain? I personally think it's important to have a balance of the two to get a whole artistic image; I mean without knowing the great happiness we're missing out on, we can't purely work with pain. But why is it easier to create and relate to pain - is it because it gives us the freedom to be dramatic or feeling heard in an attempt to get back to reality and appreciate everything else? I don't know if anything I just wrote makes any sense, it's very late at night, but I find the topic idea very interesting! – GabB3 years ago
I think in order to create truly great, memorable art, the artist, of any kind needs to be in touch with a deep emotion that they are sensing and feeling. Art of any type, whether it is music, literature, poetry, painting, or sketching, derives from deep inspiration and in order to be counted as memorable the creator needs to feel that inspiration deeply. I don't believe the artist needs solely to be in pain to create a great piece of work. Extreme love, happiness, bliss, and admiration have also created great pieces of art as well. However, pain, suffering, are simply avenues that help people connect to deep emotional roots and serve as excellent sources of inspiration for artistic creativity. – TimothyCSvenson3 years ago
I believe the idea that suffering leads to great art is a myth - and an incredibly harmful one! The association of creativity with pain seems to lead to the romanticisation of mental illnesses. If people see mental illness as having an artistic and therefore economic value, then there is less motivation for mentally ill people to be treated.
The trope of the mentally ill artist also further stigmatises mentally ill people by suggesting they need to "redeem" themselves by having certain skills. I do think this is a very interesting topic and it would be great for someone to keep the stigma of mental illness in mind when discussing the pain of artists such as Van Gogh and Elliot Smith! – Indigo3 years ago
I do not believe that in order to create great art you must feel immense pain but I do believe that the great artists we know of had the ability to detail their pain in such a way that their consumers could do nothing but hold on to their work. We are aware of these artists because of their extreme behavior. After-all, our society is obsessed with pain and death. For some reason it interests us. Those attitudes keep us grounded. – Chelsiah3 years ago
Tennesse Williams was a tortured playwright- some of his best work stemmed from the worst moments in his life. Art often reflects reality and so ones reality (if troubled, optimistic or otherwise) is inherently embedded in the art. Art is subjective. However, the question may be if this is conscious (an overt statement) or perhaps simply a coincidence. An artist might produce beautiful, melancholic work and be totally at peace with the world. – danielleraffaele3 years ago
Often it's the pain of love or loss that leads artists to write such emotionally intense stories or poems.
James Joyce's autobiographical 'The Portrait of an Artist as a young man' shows how the painful experience of finding his true identity shaped him as an artist. Yeats in 'Meditations in Time of Civil war' stated that 'only an aching heart conceives a changeless work of art.'
– SarahPhilip3 years ago
Nice topic! Maybe, to be more specific, you could question why consumers are drawn to artists who are more "in pain" as you said, rather than the ones who seem to be"happy". – Gabby3 years ago
Well what can happiness create? An involvement of bright colors perhaps. Although, pain and misfortune experiences create this cataclysmic still among a storm, a blooming flower embracing the sun whilst its roots are mangled in jagged rocks.It is beauty! If one is happy then they are content, if they are not then chances are they will explore more as to why, immerse within the feeling. Some enjoy their demons, and let them takeover but those are just my two cents. – Febrilflor3 years ago