On the importance of art as an end in itself

“I spent a great deal of my life being ignored.
I was always very happy that way.
Being ignored is a great privilege.” – Saul Leiter


A week ago I did something unthinkable: I actually bought something on Black Friday! I ordered the book “All about Saul Leiter”, as I’ve only recently discovered the work of this genius. I knew I was going to love the photos, but what I didn’t expect was to relate so deeply to this man’s thoughts.

He had a very particular view on art and life in general – I guess you could call him kind of a maverick – which probably explains why he didn’t receive more recognition for his work until very late in his life. What fascinates me the most though is that not only he didn’t seem to care about that at all, he actually thrived on it! He created an amazing body of work while being relatively ignored by most (at least compared to many other famous photographers of the same period). On this day and age where it seems that nobody does anything anymore unless it brings them some sort of reward (be it fame, money, credibility or whatever), there is something very special about people who create art as an end in itself, instead of a means to an end. True artists create because they have to, not because they’re supposed to.

Timothy Michael recently published a blog post that addresses this same topic and that I highly recommend reading. And, of course, if you have the chance do get the Saul Leiter book because it’s worth every penny.