Why We Make Art


Auguste Rodin : Victor Hugo, The California Palace of the Legion of Honor

Victor Hugo, the irreplaceable writer reflects on his life and works “ For half a century I have been writing thoughts in prose, verse, history, drama, romance, tradition, satire, ode and song…but I feel I have not said a thousandth part of that which is within me. “ And that renders the abundant creative power of the writer as reflected in the invaluable and timeless works of Victor Hugo. His insightful saying “ a writer is a world trapped in a person ”  is beautifully captured in Auguste Rodin’s sculpture.

From writing, sculpture, and painting to the enchantment of dancing, here are a few answers to the question of why we make art and how the inspiration supremely comes in play to create art.

Maurice Bejart, the exceptional choreographer and dancer alludes to the source of the inspirational movements of dancing “I could not believe that God would know how to dance.” 



Claude Monet, founder of French impressionist painting inspired by the “ water landscapes” said,one instant, one aspect of nature contains it all. ” Having dedicated more than thirty years of his life to painting waterlilies, he created his own tranquil landscape in Giverny for reflection and for mastering his art to perfection. He was often remodeling the gardens surrounding his house to capture subtle differences of light on the surface of the waters and he would say, “ I’m good for nothing except for painting and gardening. ”  Such was the breadth of his perpetual inspiration imbued his work of art and that inculcated the meaning of life for Monet.

Claude Monet: Les Nymphéas, Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris


Gina Gibney, the artistic director of New York based Gina Gibney Dance Company genuinely expresses her inner state from where art flows:

I make art for a few reasons. In life, we experience so much fragmentation of thought and feeling. For me, creating art brings things back together.

In my own work, that is true throughout the process. At the beginning, developing the basic raw materials for the work is deeply reflective and informative. Later, bringing those materials together into a form—distilling and shaping movement, creating a context, working to something that feels cohesive and complete. That’s incredibly powerful for me—something that really keeps me going.



Dance is a powerful art form for the very reason that it doesn’t need to explain or comment on itself. One of the most amazing performances I have ever seen in my life was of a woman—a domestic violence survivor—dancing in a tiny conference room in a domestic violence shelter for other survivors. She was not a professional dancer. She was a woman who had faced unbelievable challenges and who was living with a great deal of sadness.  She created and performed an amazing solo—but to have described her performance as “sad” would have been to diminish what we experienced.

That’s the power of dance. You can feel something and empathize with it on a very deep level, and you don’t have to put words to it.

Photo: Andrzej Olejniczak / Gina Gibney

As Beethoven said, in all his fervor of hearing the music and composing the notes which he could not see:

“Music is the mediator between the spiritual and sensual life,”  which for me, still remains as one of the most sublime answers to the question of “why we make art.”


Duygu Bruce
September 10, 2019

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