In 1956, Henri-Georges Clouzot sought to capture nothing less than the creative act of Pablo Picasso. The result was the great documentary: Le mystère Picasso. The film records Picasso creating and uncreating numerous scenes, allowing us to see his genius at work. All (or most of) the paintings were subsequently destroyed so that they would only exist on film.
“All in all, the creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualification and thus adds his contribution to the creative act. This becomes even more obvious when posterity gives a final verdict and sometimes rehabilitates forgotten artists.”(*)
However, what I find particularly interesting is the non-obvious multi-layered structure of the creative act revealed by the film. Indeed, if the couple Picasso-Clouzot is clearly seen as creator-spectator, we can easily forget that Clouzot’s work is itself a work of art to which we (including Picasso) are the spectators. We are spectators of both Picasso and Clouzot; both being creators and spectators of each other’s work, at the same time. A Fractal-ish structure where the creative act remains, as a matter of fact, elusive.
Excerpts from the film:
Straight away, a couple of questions occur to the mind. Where does the creative act start and where does it end? How much freedom do we have when creating/seeing a work of art?
It seems to me that these questions are but a rewording of another question: what is consciousness? Consciousness (and especially, its lack thereof) is at the heart of the problematic of the creative act. This link is what makes art a fundamental and defining trait of humanity and puts it at the crossroads of philosophy and (neuro-)science.
The mystery of Art is the mystery of Consciousness.
(*) M. Duchamp,in the creative act.
Session on the Creative Act
Convention of the American Federation of Arts