Narcissism and the Mirror of Art

Why does it seem like every artist is vain and engrossed in a selfish search for meaning exclusively in their own work and on their own terms? Surely there is a need for self esteem and self confidence for the production of Art that goes beyond vanity but many artists arrogantly believe in the supremacy of their own imagery even under the harshest and most cohesive criticism.  Is this some kind of artistic self preservation mechanism that kicks in so one does not get easily discouraged? Or is it an aversion toward the casting of any negative influence on your personal creations and dedication? Art is generally created in solitude but shared in public.  In my experience even when looking at artwork of the most incredible talent in museums I am not so much awed as absorbing lessons from the masters – still believing my own personal search for imagery to be more significant in the present. It is as if I delude myself into thinking I could make any art in that particular style and technique to arrive at the same imagery if only I lived in that period or cared to dedicate the time and effort to the task.  Do all artists need to feel this narcissistic impulse to validate their work? The process of absorbing historical imagery is the mirror of Art that most artists pass through in their visual development followed by being able to look at your own work and intuit the progression in your own personal experience. Artists are so immersed in their own pursuit of image and meaning that all other art becomes  a kind of mirage, a distraction from their goal instead of a shared process or aesthetic. This seems to exclude us from really understanding other concepts in art except as a foil to our own goals while dismissing many images as inherently alien, banal or inferior in purpose.  Artists need to learn to look through the surface illusion of their own reflections to the deeper significance that exists in creating Art. Every artist needs to examine the humanity and struggle of  another artist’s pursuit of Art or suffer the consequences of getting absorbed in their own superficiality.

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