Anarchy 51/Art and Social Responsibility

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  “Whereas urban so­ci­et­ies pro­duce bar­baric sub­sti­tutes for art, the re­jects of such so­ci­et­ies, be­cause they ap­proach the com­mun­ity-pat­tern, are still able to cre­ate work which has a human sig­nif­ic­ance. The prim­it­ives have se­ceded or been ejected from the struc­ture of so­ci­ety and its rel­at­ive secur­ity, into ghet­toes, bar­racks, huts, casual wards, and there they have set up a way of life of their own, sub­ject to risks and con­straints which make them the in­dis­put­able vic­tims of their en­vir­on­ment, and the con­straint is one which a sym­path­et­ic in­tel­lec­tual can only share if he shares the cir­cum­stances which cre­ated it. The Blues or the cante hondo are the pro­duct of the con­tact be­tween this grind­stone of ad­vers­ity and a trad­i­tion which is either there al­ready or ready to hand in a few months: the trad­i­tion of the Blues came into ex­ist­ence in a matter of years, its form dic­tated by the cir­cum­stances under which it was sung, and its mus­ical pat­tern by the avail­abil­ity of in­stru­ments . . .”

alex comfort: Art and So­cial Re­spons­ibil­ity 1946.