• Anna Sutyagina, Germany

    Artistic Director Moving Classics TV, Pianist


Learning from History – is culture an option? Lessons from the Barock time. Essay after reading the article in DAMALS 9-2016 by Prof. Dr. Peter Hersche

Sometimes it makes sense to look back into the history. We would know much of what is happening to us beforehand. Perhaps we will find even answers to the open questions that move us today.
I would particularly like to refer to the Baroque period, the time from the 17th century to the first half of the 18th century. The time was marked by great events: the geocentric world image was questioned and the earth was no longer regarded as the center of the Universe. There were heated religious disputes. These disputes excerbated through the emergence of the Protestant church. The 30 years’ war left hunger and many diseases.
People longed for political order, security, clear social conditions and well-founded knowledge. The Baroque has addressed these needs, especially in the Catholic regions of Europe. A new culture has been established that focused on the tradition and sought stability. The idea of progress was re-defined. The compulsion in the society to “search for something new” was no longer regarded as a measure for politics and social development.
Thinking and acting were not focused on science, but on architecture and music. Within the social hierarchy, artists enjoyed a relatively high status, while merchants and entrepreneurship had little prestige, especially since their activity could have been morally questionable.
Compared to the Protestant countries, the Catholic countries were characterized by magnificent buildings and not so much by modern traffic routes for commerce. The military budget was also much lower in Catholic countries. Instead money was spent on cultural activities.
The beneficiary of this policy was not only the upper class. The public luxury of beautiful churches, sumptuous music and elaborate open-air festivals were also accessible to the middle and lower classes of the population.
Back to the present: Today we have many parallels to the emergence of Baroque culture. The global picture has also changed greatly in the course of globalization. In recent years, the religious clashes increased and suddenly there are wars that make many people to become refugees in other countries.
It is hardly surprising that people today are longing for more stability, political order and security as in the old baroque days.
Do you think that politics and our society will be increasingly turning to art and taking on topics such as literature, architecture, music, theater, dance, and painting?
It will be exciting to see whether in the coming years, the arts will become a meaningful part of everyday life, as in Baroque times and to find answers on the questions:
- Is culture also nowadays an option to give a society more stability?
- What kind of cultural activities could blossom?
- Who can be the driver for new developments?
I am looking forward to hearing your opinion! Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me.



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What can we learn from creative process of Pablo Picasso?

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Imagine asking Pablo Picasso, one of the most innovative painters and inventor of Cubism, what he thinks about creativity! In 2008, Apple University had a training program for new hires to learn to think like Picasso. The digitalization gurus were not intimidated by the weird Picasso’s thought that “computers are useless. They can only give you answers.” All people can be creative and Apple sees creativity as a big success factor.
For me it was Pablo Picasso who changed my way of thinking. I was learning a new piece by Johann Sebastian Bach and was indulging in the beauty of the music up to the point where I had a feeling that I am not playing up to my capabilities and I just did not know what to do to improve my interpretation. The beauty of the piece and seeming perfection of the melody were preventing me from playing it well. The eye opening was the Picasso’s phrase that the beauty arises out of the destruction – “Every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction.” I understood this phrase as a challenge to throw away or destroy all pre-conceptions, fixed thoughts and ideas, ready answers and start from the scratch. I decided not to take the creativity of a great composer Bach and the beauty of his creation as something sacred. It was an invitation to start my own creative process. “Everybody has the same energy potential. The average person wastes his in a dozen little ways. I bring mine to bear on one thing only: my paintings”
There are people who have new ideas every day, it is a rare and precious talent but everybody can have plenty of ideas too, it is only the question of freeing them. “I begin with an idea and then it becomes something else” I love the thought of starting a new idea without a rigid plan but with a flexible mindset that would allow more variations of an original idea. Try it out – it is true for any subject. “You have to have an idea of what you are going to do, but it should be a vague idea. An idea is a point of departure and no more. As soon as you elaborate it, it becomes transformed by thought”
Pablo Picasso believes that the successful people do not see any hindrances in the development of their ideas. “Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not. ” The idea becomes you and leads you further. The employees of “Google” are encouraged to put a question “what if..”, it is a productive way of using fantasy at work too.
Technological progress proves that “everything you can imagine is real.” “There is only one way to see things, until someone shows us how to look at them with different eyes” This is a change of perspective advice that can bring new vision.
Picasso teaches us to have a solid foundation – “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” Lifelong learning was important for him; he was constantly pushing the borders and developing his skills: “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.”
Some people think that having more time, more money and more of anything will bring more creativity, but the lessons of Pablo Picasso prove the opposite. He was radical in his restrictions but at the same time, he was innovative in the use of very concise means. “For a long time I limited myself to one color—as a form of discipline.” If I do not have red, I will take blue.”
Picasso was never tired of experimenting and trying. He was doing hundreds of sketches of the same object until he was happy with the result. The continuous iteration led to outcomes that are more creative. “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” “Action is the foundational key to all success.”
My favorite lesson was Picasso’s advice “Bad artists copy. Good artists steal.” By “stealing” Picasso thinks of going one level deeper, learning about what you like about the thing you copy and making it your own by incorporating some elements from it.
He was not afraid of negative feedback. He was so devoted to the result that he just never thought of not achieving it. “I do not seek. I find.” “He can who thinks he can, and he can’t who thinks he can’t. This is an inexorable, indisputable law.” “Only one person has the right to criticize me. It’s Picasso.”
Hmm, not afraid of negative feedback? Personally, I am not sure about this one… Read more about the power of negative feedback and how to deal with it in my blog next Monday!


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