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All creative artists are authors in the wider sense. It is a felicitous word. It derives from the Sanscrit root ojas, meaning strength, and it passed through the Latin word augeri, to grow, before developing its modern meaning. Strength and growth – how better can we describe the source from which artistic and litera creation springs! The creative artist wrestles with the inertia of words, line and colour, which would remain dormant for ever did he not seize them and drag them from their slumbers, and having seized them he arranges them, gives them form and causes them to grow.
It is a process which gives rise to strange speculation.
If Beethoven had never been born the Pastoral Symphony would have remained for ever locked away in what the Chinese call the Palace of Nowhere. If Shakespeare had never seen the light of day we should never have listened to the famous balcony scene. Without the happy chance which produced Goethe from the union of an Imperial Councillor with the daughter of the Burgomaster of Frankfort we should never have witnessed Faust and Margarete in the prison scene. How many masterpieces still slumber in the shades of nowhere for lack of an artist to bring them to life!
The creative artist, an artisan of strength and growth in the things of the mind, is a man of destiny. Without him the world would have remained a place from which art, poetry and philosophy were banned; sterile earth knowing only practical necessities, with boredom the one inseparable companion of the spirit.
Thus we must seek to define the creative artist, to reveal the full extent of his gifts to mankind and his help in our neverending search for truth and beauty.
We should never allow ourselves to forget the man who toils day after day, and often far into the night, concentrating tenaciously on the white sheets of paper before him that from his effort and his ecstacy may spring that poetry, that prose and that music destined to enchant mankind throughout the ages. Let us think of a man like Swift who suffered the severest blows of fate and yet worked on at his Gulliver's Travels destined to be the never-failing delight of us all. He was a creative artist. Like Balzac, who undermined his health and went to an early grave at the age of fifty from an excess of coffee drinking, voluntary confinement from labouring at his work and lack of sleep, but left behind a true monument in his Comédie Humaine. He, too, was a creative
artist. Like Franz Schubert, who in his short life of thirty-one years composed over 600 songs, dissipating his failing health to give us The Erl King, The Trout and The Wanderer to soothe our melancholy hours even to this day. He, too, was a creative artist.
When we speak of the rights of the creative artist we should never lose sight of those who have given the expression its loftiest significance. That is why we set such store here by the person of the creative artist himself, as a man, with his strength and his weaknesses, with his fleeting moments of happiness and his long periods of misfortune, with his struggles against sickness and poverty and, only too often, against the obtuseness of his contemporaries. That is why we are anxious to define the nature of the creative artist from the history of art and letters.
What is a creative artist ?
Phideas supervising the execution of his plans for the building of the Parthenon was a creative artist; Rembrandt painting his famous Lesson in Anatomy; Mozart composing his Marriage of Figaro; Albrecht Dürer engraving his Horseman of Death; Walt Whitman furiously scribbling his Leaves of Grass.
And we should also not forget those artists who worked before the dawn of history, carving on horn, bone and ivory, modelling in clay, painting those pictures of bison, horses and elephants on the walls of their caves which still astonish us by their artistry today.
No matter how far back we go in the story of man's creative genius and inventiveness we shall find such flowers blossoming from his artistic sense harnessed to the service of beauty. At all times there has been that flowering without which the heart and soul of man would dry up and shrivel away. It represents one of the sources of life, one of the mainsprings of man's spiritual existence.
We have said that the creative artist is one who makes things to grow. Let us enumerate the treasures by which he has enriched the cultural patrimony of man's estate.
If Socrates is right that the highest pleasure a man can experience in life is knowledge, then how much we owe to all those who first handed on the fruits of their knowledge to us in manuscripts and later in hundreds of thousands of printed books! Let us recall the names of some of them in order that they may
shine in glory inscribed beneath the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, whose trenchant axiom: 'Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author serves us here as our text.
Let us seek their names in the memory of our emotions, in the hidden recesses of our mind, in those sanctuaries which are our refuge in times of doubt and despair, which are our haven in moments of serenity and recollection. If we limit their numbers it is only to seize the most brilliant at once, just as when we cast a rapid glance into the night sky we see first only the brightest stars.
Hippocrates, Aristotle, Copernicus, Francis Bacon, Galileo, Descartes, Leibniz, Newton, Lavoisier, Volta, Darwin, Pasteur and Einstein are the giants of science.
Plato, Euripides, Lucretius, Tacitus, Dante, Erasmus, Cervantes, Montaigne, Shakespeare, Goethe, Kant, Chateaubriand and Tolstoy stand for letters.
The architects of the Pyramids, Ictinos the architect of the Parthenon, Phideas the architect of the Temple of Tanjour, Michelangelo, Raphael, Dürer, Velasquez, Rembrandt, Goya, Delacroix, Rodin and Picasso represent the arts.
Monteverdi, Handel, Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Brahms, Berlioz, Wagner, Rimsky-Korsakov, Debussy and Stravinsky are the masters of music.
These are the men whom Baudelaire called 'Beacons'. We have recalled their names only to enhance in the light of their tremendous prestige the inestimable value they have added to the vocation of creative artist.
But we should not suppose that creative art is dependent on means of expression fixed for ever by tradition. In the twentieth century we have witnessed the birth and universal development of an art which is related to both painting and the theatre, and whose advent has produced new talents and revealed new forms of creative art – the film. This new art has produced, if not its geniuses, at least men whose work has become justly famous.
And the art of photography has already produced its masters. During the course of this study we shall see that here, too, despite appearances, we are dealing with a creative art form.
From a consideration of these men, who, amongst so many
others, have lent undying glory to the ordinary, everyday term 'creative artist' let us now turn to the laws and customs of traditional morality to establish the rights which every creative artist should be granted and be able to exercise in respect of his work both in his own person and through his heirs after his death.
The legal position
The horticulturist who by care and patience coupled with his knowledge of the laws of hybridism succeeds in producing a new rose has certain rights in his creation. That particular rose did not exist until his imagination conceived it and his skill gave it form and colour. He names it, and the property rights in that name are his. He may be said to have composed a flower, given it a name and produced it. He then multiplies it by graftings or cuttings, and having, so to speak, made so and so many copies he sells them to rose enthusiasts. No one even dreams of denying his right to his own creation, to the name he has given it, to the special qualities of colour and appearance which are typical of it.
Such is the right of the creative artist to his work, the right of the musician to his score, the right of the painter to his picture, the right of the author to his book.
Let us now consider the meaning we propose to give to the word 'right'.
The wisdom of the ages grants each man the right to protect his own property. That implies something which is in accordance with reason and, in consequence, with law. It is man's sense of right, a sense natural to him in all ages, the sense which impelled the first social groupings of mankind, the first beginnings of human society, to frame their primitive laws. Even in the animal kingdom we know with what vigour a dog will fight for the bone he believes to be his, and with what care the squirrel will guard the nuts he has hidden in the hollow of a tree. Animal laws are laws of instinct; man's laws are those of reason. As human society began to develop and man, overcoming his initial disinclination, began to mix with other men, so the idea of property arose, and it developed side by side with the increasing number of things
produced by manual dexterity and creative genius. There is little doubt that when man first began to speak it was to establish his claim to the possession of the fruit he had picked or the game he had trapped. Even before he could speak he disputed with others the possession of what he had gathered or caught. A sort of law of possession developed before any other laws. It conformed to man's feeling that what he held was his; that he could do what he liked with it: keep it himself or give it to others. At the same time, though very slowly, man's consciousness of his own individuality also developed, encouraged by the anterior development of a sense of possession and, subsequently, a property sense. The more a man possessed the more clearly he realized his own identity as distinct from the exterior world of other men.
When man became the homo faber, the artisan, of prehistoric times, the idea of the origin of property was added to that of its possession. A man realized that the product of his hands was the result of a whole series of deliberately conceived movements carried out by him as an individual.
The fashioning of the first flint tool introduced the idea of its origin and authorship into the laws and customs of primitive society, and, in consequence, the right of its author to the product of his inventiveness.
In the name of UNESCO we should pay homage to those primitive men who first fashioned from inert matter the tools which were the precursors of our modern mechanized civilization. Let us salute these early men with their clumsy fists, their spatulate thumbs and their big-jointed fingers who first gave to stone the requisite form to permit its use as a tool. Let us thank them for impressing their will on to matter which up to then had been inert, formless and useless. And let us affirm their right to the work that sprang in this way from their imagination and their will.
In this sense the rights of creation are as old as human society. They made their appearance when the first rough-hewn tool was produced. They developed with the making of needles from bone, harpoon tips from ivory and arrow heads from flint, and with the painting of those astounding cave frescoes which still arouse our admiration. But such was the innocence of our primitive ancestors that we doubt very much whether they ever made use of their rights.