Leo Tolstoy on the Mission of the Artist

Leo Tolstoy on the Mission of the Artist
Photo by Martin de Arriba / Unsplash
“The artist's mission must not be to produce an irrefutable solution to a problem, but to compel us to love life in all its countless and inexhaustible manifestations.”

We are most comfortable searching for solutions to problems. We want answers and we want them now. When a war breaks out or a global pandemic, we revert to explanation and complaint and anything to make sense of it all. Everyone has an opinion, and everyone is an expert.

The gift of art is the realization that most of life has few explanations. We don’t find solutions and nicely packaged answers in a work of art. They are gifts. Dare we say gifts of grace, we simply receive with thanksgiving.

A mystery hums along with the details of human history. We want answers and few are available. But the artist is working hard, the good ones at least, to remind us that life is full of complexity and sorrow and pain and mystery, but it’s good and worth living.

May we make art with our lives that compels others to “love life in all its countless and inexhaustible manifestations.”

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