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Arnly

Seurat in this musical sings of "viewing the world through a window." This struck a strong chord in me the first time I heard it. "Artists are bizarre, fixed, cold..." sings Dot - there is a certain aloofness, a certain viewing everything through the view-finder of your art, that creates distance. The Thomas Mann short story (though it's not so short) "Tonio Kroger" is about this same theme - being outside life to follow art. I'd have to go back and re-read Herman Hesse's Narcissus and Goldmund - I suspect the same idea appears there, as well. Or is this not the best way to create art? Does the artist have to hold the world in one hand while making art from it in the other? Or is there a less self-conscious, more playful way to go about it? Did Picasso feel outside, or deliciously and painfully within everything, his creating no more unnatural or cerebral than eating or love making? Do the playful drawings of Paul Klee and paintings of Joan Miro come from distance and separation, or a childlike connection and outpouring? I aim to find out. I hope it's the latter. I have been recently rethinking my time in art school, when I became blocked as an artist - and I recall just before then that I was all on fire one day in my dorm room making a cardboard roll-top box, decorated with lions. It was not exactly what we had been assigned - it was a bizarre twist on the rules - but it was something I was totally engaged in making. I have seldom felt so alive. I get a feeling of obsession from Seurat as depicted in the musical, more than a feeling of headlong enjoyment. Painting because he had to, not becaue he wanted to more than anything in the world. But then again, he does tell Dot (when she is fishing for an affirmation of his love for her), "I love this painting; you will be in this painting." Somehow I think that still falls short of what I mean by joy in the making - as much as it falls short of the declaration Dot needed. So today I made a brilliant yellow kite, and now I want to go draw the large cat that will look down from it.

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I get a feeling of obsession from Seurat as depicted in the musical, more than a feeling of headlong enjoyment.

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