Why does sadness inspire art.

jsecordphoto

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I was just thinking about this recently, great topic. The last month or two I've been in a bit of a rut, lots of personal stuff going on and haven't been too happy. I feel like while out shooting photos I can leave all of that behind and truly be in the moment, and have a greater drive to create while in those periods of sadness. There's a sense of urgency that I don't get when I'm generally happy.
 

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Art is not a mirror, but a hammer: it does not reflect, it shapes.
Leon Trotsky, Literature and Revolution(1924):

I agree with Leon: (Great) Art is to construct and build things. Things that transcend what pre-exists. To copy what pre-exists is merely to mirror it. That isn't great.

Someone can write about sadness, paint it, proclaim it. But that's not great art; they've created nothing of any consequence externally, or transcended anything internally unless they can move beyond that..and that is inspiration (constructing something new from the pre-existing) to manifest Great Art in the world, not the sadness. Sadness is stasis, the standstill, the mirror. Art that does nothing to transcend that state is futile.

Someone can scrawl the words "everything's sh*t" on a wall, that isn't Great Art, and the person doing that imo, cannot be a progenitor of Great Art in that mental state; that's really just an expression of impotence, frustration; that state somehow needs to become transcended, either with aesthetic development or even humour, (for example, Banksy doesn't scrawl "everythings sh*t", on a wall, he instead develops graphical juxtapositions that raise questions about society and look good; I doubt he could innovate, plan, execute and sustain what he does if he was just 'sad').

Great Art raises up a spiritual vibration, or introduces new situational experiences that are enjoyable, uplifting or novel i.e "inspiring". It can be the Sistine Chapel or a neon light installation or whatever else. If it merely mirrors the negative emotions of the artist and serves no higher purpose in the world than THAT, it disqualifies itself as a contender for the label Great Art and becomes just an artifact of history, however poignant it may seem or revered it may become by others.
 

71M

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Why would you celebrate an inclement life?

You wouldn't! Who would! Other than supposedly the spurious existence of these artists, (as asserted by Huxley), in his humbug assertion.

It's an illustration of the stupidity of his pronouncement that artists need to be sad, yet bizarrely spend their lives apparently protesting against a world that provides them that environment. It's BS! either the initial part of his quote or the conclusion are singularly valid or both are invalid.

The two notions are irreconcilable: whether artists need to be sad to create, or, instead, they protest against a world that allows them to be, (which is absurd!), it can't be both. I echoed the last part of what he is quoted as saying to show the first statements cannot be valid. If they were, then those sad artists would be in a very conducive, productive environment which fills them with the sadness they crave, and therefore they wouldn't be protesting in the least! He contradicts himself.
 

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Just creating 'art' is ok for me, I'll settle for that.

I find it puzzling that you would settle for that, having initiated this thread, and other art debates of a similarly predictable trajectory. What's your intent when you create them?
 

rexbobcat

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The question I've seen posed in psychology is: does depression make you more creative, or are creative people more likely to be depressed? Generally I've also read an article that suggests that it's not the sadness that promotes creativity, but instead it's the rainbow after the storm, because the actual depression for a lot of people tends to inhibit creativity.

Now, if you're talking about a specific traumatic experience (IE: a death in the family) then I might understand how that can spur creativity.

I think the trope that depression = creativity is kind of a bad trope though.
 

minicoop1985

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The question I've seen posed in psychology is: does depression make you more creative, or are creative people more likely to be depressed? Generally I've also read an article that suggests that it's not the sadness that promotes creativity, but instead it's the rainbow after the storm, because the actual depression for a lot of people tends to inhibit creativity.

In a way, you're right. Milder depression tends to cause some creative inclinations, like I mentioned before, but if it goes much further than that, all energy is sapped away and there's no motivation to do anything. A 7D isn't that heavy, but when you're ultimately depressed, it weighs more than you can lift, if that makes sense.
 

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Sadness is an emotion, and as such can drive or inspire creativity. Why wouldn't it be considered art if one were to feel sadness towards the unfair suffering of some group and be able to use that emotional energy as a springboard to create a work that when looked at by others, causes them to feel that sadness or empathy?

I agree with a poster who indicated that beauty can be found in a contrite heart.
 
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Just creating 'art' is ok for me, I'll settle for that.

I find it puzzling that you would settle for that, having initiated this thread, and other art debates of a similarly predictable trajectory. What's your intent when you create them?

My intent is to create something; it's 'quality' is determined by a great many things - circumstance, content, talent and, not under my control, the opinion of others.

There are two judgements here that I find a little surprising; first that sadness means depression and second that the artist must always be feeling that emotion as opposed to being moved by sad events.
 

sashbar

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In my experiences, particularly with bipolar disorder, sadness and depression seem to be overwhelmingly more powerful than happiness and bliss. They inspire me to write and share those experiences far more than the high stages do. Granted, when in the worst of the depressive phases, it's impossible to do much of anything.

So I agree with Josh-believe me, if I could create art (I once was able to through the bell of a trumpet) again, it would most definitely not be much of a celebration of anything.

I do empathize with your condition but does it result in great art? That's the question posed by the OP. Do you produce art which Lew's source considers to be amongst the works of great art? I'm refuting that the great art of classical or modernism were inspired by sadness. I maintain they were inspired by other things, regardless of whether sadness was a part of their lives and be contended with and overcome, (or not).

I agree with 71M.
"Sadness" or, if we switch to the professional jargon, "existential vacuum" as a result of lack of "will to meaning" {i.e. inability to find the meaning of life} sometimes tries to find an escape root in creative work. But it does not mean at all that the end product of this work has any true artistic value.
The history shows us that the great artists more often than not were very strong personalities with a strong will to meaning. So "sadness" may be a trigger, but it is not a creative force or a true sourse of inspiration.
 

minicoop1985

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In my experiences, particularly with bipolar disorder, sadness and depression seem to be overwhelmingly more powerful than happiness and bliss. They inspire me to write and share those experiences far more than the high stages do. Granted, when in the worst of the depressive phases, it's impossible to do much of anything.

So I agree with Josh-believe me, if I could create art (I once was able to through the bell of a trumpet) again, it would most definitely not be much of a celebration of anything.

I do empathize with your condition but does it result in great art? That's the question posed by the OP. Do you produce art which Lew's source considers to be amongst the works of great art? I'm refuting that the great art of classical or modernism were inspired by sadness. I maintain they were inspired by other things, regardless of whether sadness was a part of their lives and be contended with and overcome, (or not).

I just saw this. It really doesn't result in great art, but it is far more motivating to create something artistic than happiness. Why doesn't it result in great art? Well, I'm no artist. I try to be artistic, but what I do with a camera could hardly be considered art, with one exception-it's a photo of a recreation of the scene of my first attempt at suicide. I do consider that art in a way, mainly because of the emotions involved, but other than that, I really don't think anything I've done is evocative enough to be considered art. Maybe if I had a better artistic eye, this could result in more. But I do see your point-by itself, does it result in art? No, it's some of the powerful things that sadness causes that inspire art, in my opinion.
 

Josh66

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Why would you celebrate an inclement life?

You wouldn't! Who would! Other than supposedly the spurious existence of these artists, (as asserted by Huxley), in his humbug assertion.

It's an illustration of the stupidity of his pronouncement that artists need to be sad, yet bizarrely spend their lives apparently protesting against a world that provides them that environment. It's BS! either the initial part of his quote or the conclusion are singularly valid or both are invalid.

The two notions are irreconcilable: whether artists need to be sad to create, or, instead, they protest against a world that allows them to be, (which is absurd!), it can't be both. I echoed the last part of what he is quoted as saying to show the first statements cannot be valid. If they were, then those sad artists would be in a very conducive, productive environment which fills them with the sadness they crave, and therefore they wouldn't be protesting in the least! He contradicts himself.
I get what you're saying, and now that I've thought about it some more, I might even say that I agree with you. Something is not right though - it's just not "clicking" for me...

I don't think "it" can be simplified to this extent.

Maybe sad is the wrong "emotion". Conflict seems more appropriate to me (and less specific). I don't think that protesting a world that allows you "to be" is that absurd though - you can't protest much in jail or the grave, lol!

I do think that conflict gets a hell of a lot more done than bliss does though. When you're pissed off, you want to "do something" - take some sort of action.
 

71M

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Sadness is an emotion, and as such can drive or inspire creativity. Why wouldn't it be considered art if one were to feel sadness towards the unfair suffering of some group and be able to use that emotional energy as a springboard to create a work that when looked at by others, causes them to feel that sadness or empathy?

I agree with a poster who indicated that beauty can be found in a contrite heart.

Personally, I'm not rejecting it as art, art's whatever someone pronounces art to be. I'm considering the OP that great art is inspired by sadness. That's pedantic, but it's simply answering the question posed, and the thread focuses on sadness, not emotions , morality, or 'why isn't it art if reacting against XYZ'.
 

71M

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Something is not right though - it's just not "clicking" for me...

That's exactly how I felt too when I first considered the thread's premise, because I instinctively feel the assertion is flawed, maybe even a little disingenuous. To attribute greatness solely to sadness, to emphasize that, expound upon it as a given; that's like saying NASA build spacecraft, because they're disappointed with Earth.
 

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