The Need to Give: The Patron and the Arts

The Need to Give: The Patron and the Arts

The Need to Give: The Patron and the Arts

The Need to Give: The Patron and the Arts

Excerpt

The first patron was God the Father. His acts of creation were the original patronage, or so human societies have long believed and shown in their works, particularly in the Christian faith. His creation was also the first sabotage, as Cioran pointed out, because it destroyed the possibility of all other worlds which could have been made. But that is the role of a patron, to endow and select what is made. The laws of natural selection on earth then showed an exquisite discrimination. The eventual colours of fish and fur and fowl, the tint of scale and hue of pelt and gaudy camouflage of feather, all of these were the inspirations for the beginning of the human arts. The body painting of primitive tribes imitated nature and sought to propitiate the divine. So did the cave paintings that survive in Europe and Africa. These drawings of beasts and birds and godlike shapes performed magic and were an imaginative description of the only creation given to men's eyes and minds.

Culture began in the service of the divine and the leaders. The tribe and the barbaric state commanded craftsmen to honour the gods through the priests and the warlords. The prehistoric carvings of 'Venus' looked for the blessings of the goddesses of fertility. The fierce and ornamental batons de commandementof Paleolithic times presume the existence of a powerful patron to command their making, for carving and fighting do not necessarily go in the same hand. Although the most ancient artefacts of all, flint arrowheads and stone axes and bone ornaments, were chipped out for personal use in hunting and decoration, the evolution of technology and society changed them into objects of ritual -- the ceremonial jadeite . . .

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