The Dark Side of Creativity: Blocks, Unfinished Works, and the Urge to Destroy

The Dark Side of Creativity: Blocks, Unfinished Works, and the Urge to Destroy

The Dark Side of Creativity: Blocks, Unfinished Works, and the Urge to Destroy

The Dark Side of Creativity: Blocks, Unfinished Works, and the Urge to Destroy

Synopsis

"Nebel shows us too how aware some artists are of the discrepancy between what they see in their imagination and what they are able to produce. . . . The accounts of the emotions of these people and the anecdotes are very readable and it is interesting to learn why some artists feel they have to destroy their work."¿BRITISH JOURNAL OF AESTHETICS

Excerpt

Artists have always destroyed their works. Self-doubt, a sense of impotence, anguish, inadequacy, uncertainty have more often than not accompanied artistic creativity. The urge to destroy comes about because somehow the work does not fulfill the ideal vision of its creator. Although artists rarely create according to a precise esthetic doctrine, they do, with some frequency, destroy their works because of dissatisfaction rooted in esthetic principles. It is clear that artists have other reasons as well for destructive urges involving themselves and their works, as a growing number of psychological studies attest. This book considers the motives which lead artists to despair of and destroy their work.

Such acts of destruction or abandonment of an unfinished work, involve a host of diverse, sometimes unrelated and often contradictory motivations. Consideration of these actions can bring us some insight into the difficulties and obstacles faced by the artist and his ways of overcoming them. The creative process, so often accompanied by acts of destruction, may affect the artist's approach to future works. A work, finished or not, produces in many artists an aftershock ("choc en retour") of one type or another. As a result, artists are led to reflect upon the work, to change, to modify, and even on occasion to destroy it. The interplay of these factors is the subject of this study.

A work which delights and enriches the amateur or connoisseur may have no such effect on its creator, but may rather torment him, both while he is creating it and —more often than not—after he has "finished" it. In addition to his own dissatisfaction, the artist's lot, as André Malraux pointed out, is to reject the forms created by others. This is the only way he has not only of becoming master in his own house, but often of becoming an artist at all. The creative instinct or urge proceeds in part from the need to reject, but this need only arises after an artist has known the works of others and felt the desire to challenge and surpass them. To what extent this theory can ever be proven re-

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