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08 April 2006

Of Artists and Arti-types, Part 1

I have this theory about artists.

Having a brain which requires everything to be quantified (especially the weird and wonderful worlds of art and emotion) means that while watching a film with tears streaming from my eyes some part of me is still going, "that is an amazing shot, how on earth did he do that?", or "why am I so moved? Is it the performance or the music? Or is it just the idea being presented? Eh...yeah, it's the music". Yes, it sounds obsessive and slightly robotic; but I, I assure you, am really quite cute and cuddly.

And if you will take a moment from pondering my weirdnesses you will find I'm trying to make a point (yes, fond of the italics today).

So there are artists, all kinds of artists. Artists that I love. But what I've noticed about them is that no matter what their discipline, just as with personality there area finite number of types. Artistic types, like temperament, falls into certain categories. Really, I think I'm on to something here; so I've been working it out in my head.

La Belle Artiste

It started a little bit, when I was watching something or other and realized that the actor was completely naked onscreen. Yeah, he was fully clothed, but he was completely bare, vulnerable. His not the greatest, there are awkward moments where a more technically proficient actor might finesse, but with him there is a break. Actually more like a hairline fracture than a break. At first I'm irritated, because I think, you know, 'This guy is terrible! Why doesn't he learn how to act?' This went on for a while.

But then I begin to realize that I am aware of his despair, his character's despair, like I can feel it in my own body. And I keep watching him, because for the life of me, I can't see what he's doing. Usually I can tell. All actors have their tricks, their habits, their 'tells', if you will. If you watch them long enough you can learn how they do that thing they do. But there are some artists for whom their intense vulnerability is their entire bag of tricks. It's this stripped down naked, honesty of soul they are able to convey on camera, on stage, that is barren of intellect. It's just them. And it's just beautiful.

I've written about actors here this morning, but I believe that in every discipline there are these belle artistes these people who can't help but put all that they are on the stage, on the page, on the canvas. They require special handling when in creative mode, because at such times they lack natural defenses of any kind. And I love them. I admit, most freely that of all the arti-types clanking around in my head the belle artiste is the type for which I feel the most. It's a mother hen thing, their vulnerability which makes me want to clear their path, to make sure they take care of themselves, or that they are taken care of; making sure they are better able to do that thing they do; it's also an admiration borne of envy. I myself, have never figured out how to get of my own way while creating. I over-think, I get scared and put up walls. Artifice and pretense and intellect become my allies and obstacles.

So anyway, that's my first classification.

La Belle Artiste: (actors, 'cause it's easiest)

Minnie Driver
Gale Harold
Julianne Moore
Rufus Sewell
Derek Luke
Dakota Fanning

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