Power and Authority

I think that power and authority have to be sharply distinguished. Power is what individuals seek to compensate for whatever lack they feel. Or just for the sheer pleasure of controlling someone else, if that’s what gives them pleasure. Authority is something very different. An artist must seek authority, both for themselves and as a necessary part of their education. They have to find out who is the authority—meaning their necessary predecessor—in order to find their way in art. Whether that individual is recognized by others is neither here nor there, every artist must find their own authoritative precursor. Later they have to assume authority themselves, become authoritative. The work demands nothing less. And so authority is not absolute. In art at least it’s certainly a benign form of power. This is the second use of this image in as many weeks, but it works in both places.

Robert Linsley, Fire 2014

Robert Linsley, Untitled watercolor (Fire) 2014

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