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  • Writer's pictureColette

What is Art?


I am such a deep thinker. I seriously don't have anyone who I can engage in deep, intellectual conversation with. Hence, how my Conversation Pieces art series has developed. My deep thoughts this morning involve Leo Tolstoy. I used to read a lot more than I do presently. I favor non fiction, and classic novels. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is my all time favorite. Perhaps I'll delve more into that at another time. I bond with these dead writers, artists, composers, somehow, some way.

I'm about to submit an order through Amazon for Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, and his essay What is Art? I have yet to watch the movie Anna Karenina on Netflix, but I was completely sucked into the Australian mini series The Beautiful Lie, which is a creative reworking of Tolstoy's novel to fit contemporary times. I too, fell in love with the character Skeet Du Pont, and the actor that plays him Benedict Samuel. I loved the chemistry between Anna & Skeet, and I wanted them to live happily ever after. But life isn't always that pretty and tidy - is it? Neither is this story, and that's all the more reason to love it. It isn't so damned Hollywood Pretty Woman perfect nonsense! I'll watch the Netflix version, set in the 19th century like the book, after I read the book. In this movie, Aaron Taylor-Johnson plays Count Vronsky (Skeet from the Aussie version). I'm a fan of Aaron's too, both as an actor, and of his real life relationship with his awesome filmmaker/photographer wife Sam Taylor-Johnson. She's 23 years older than him, and I love it! Times they are a changing people! She's a cancer survivor like I am, so their real life love story endears me all the more, and instills hope.

Ok, back to the What is Art? burgeoning question, and essay by Tolstoy. Taken from Art and Sincerity in the essay, Leo states "by words a man transmits his thoughts to another, by means of art he transmits his feelings." There it is, he said it for me. I feel as though I have no one to communicate my deep thoughts too, and therefore an abundance of feelings wallow around within soul, What can I do with all of these feelings? Create. I create art. "In this freeing of our personality from its separation and isolation, in this uniting of it with others, lies the chief characteristic and the great attractive force of art."

As I read his words I feel a connection to his spirit. As I view artwork by others, I can certainly gauge whether it is technically perfection or not, but it's irrelevant if it doesn't move me to feel something. "And however poetical, realistic, effectful, or interesting a work may be, it is not a work of art if it does not evoke that feeling (quite distinct from all other feelings) of joy and of spiritual union with another (the author) and with others (those who are also infected by it)."

You can read the excerpt here: Art and Sincerity from Leo Tolstoy's What is Art?

If you have read the books I've mentioned and/or watched the movie/series, and wish to have a discussion about them, bring it! I'm listening!

Skeet & Anna from The Beautiful Lie

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