“old-age style”

My sister, Katie, sent me this bit from a book called The Social Animal by David Brooks. I wonder if she knows how relevant this all really is.

“Summarizing a body of recent research, Malcolm Gladwel wrote that artists who succeed in their youth tend to be conceptual. Like Picasso, they start with a concept of what they want to achive and then execute it. Those that thrive near the end of life tend to be exploratory. Like Cezanne, they don’t start with clear conceptions, but go through a process of trial and error that eventually leads them to a destination. This is not always a passive, gentle process. In 1972 the great art historian Kenneth Clark wrote an essay on what he called the “old-age style”. Looking across the arts, and especially at Michelangleo, Titian, Rembrandt, Donatello, Turner and Cezanne, he believed he could detect a common pattern that many great elderly arists shared: “A sense of isolation, a feelings of holy rage, developing into what I have called transcendental pessimism; a mistrust of reason, a belief in instinct…. If we consider old-age art from a more narrowly stylistic point of view, we find a retreat from realism, an impatience with established technique and a craving for complete unity of treatment, as if the picture were an organism in which every member shared in the life of the whole.”—Artists take the sentiments that are buried in inchoate form across many minds and bring them to the surface for all to see. They express the collective emotional wisdom of the race. They keep alive and transmit states of mind from one generation to the next. “We pass on culture, therefore,” Roger Scruton has written, “as we pass on science and skill: not to benefit the individual, but to benefit our kind, by conserving a form on knowledge that would otherwise vanish from the world.”

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