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Pioneer of Art: Susan Sontag

Updated on August 4, 2015

Introduction to Susan Sontag

Susan Sontag ; January 16, 1933 – December 28, 2004) was an American writer and filmmaker, teacher and political activist, publishing her first major work, the essay "Notes on 'Camp'", in 1964. Her best known works include On Photography, Against Interpretation, Styles of Radical Will, The Way We Live Now, Illness as Metaphor, Regarding the Pain of Others, The Volcano Lover and In America.

Sontag was active in writing and speaking about, or travelling to, areas of conflict, including during the Vietnam War and theSiege of Sarajevo. She wrote extensively about photography, culture and media, AIDS and illness, human rights, and communism and leftist ideology. Her essays and speeches sometimes drew criticism. The New York Review of Books called her "one of the most influential critics of her generation


In my understanding,she refers to art as personal interpretation of ones manifestation of thoughts or aspirations. Art has to be a type (original entity) because if it’s inspired by something, replica or something alike is considered as a token (copy of the original). She further describes art as a personal journey (self to self) anybody else who sees it, they might not be able to understand the meaning behind each colors(perhaps emotions). Many at times artists make abstract art, the way they describe the process of it is whatever emotions they are going through they stroke the brushes with such colors accordingly. So for many spectators it might be just a canvas with some colors sprayed around whereas in reality it does have a meaning, so art is very personal. Further she elaborates on the fact that adding art into culture and confining people with it is perhaps not what the idea of art is. Instead it means to give people their own unique identity and way of life and not be bounded by a stereo type. Art determining culture of a nation becomes a stereotype for the cultures of many other nations because that particular art was restricted as the art of that nation. Since art does not have any boundaries and it’s very presence has no boundaries, so perhaps to her it was a sort of a social attack or social dilemma where people are subjected to think or like art in certain way whereas in reality art is truly indefinable, it is the emotions, feelings and mind set one has and to be able to define it exactly to another being is certainly impossible. Maybe having art as choice in culture is much better, because art is truly our “vision” the way wee see things (by that I don’t mean the peripheral of the eyes) but the way you see your reality.

Art is not a depiction, but it is the reality. Whereas depiction of any kind would not be a reality. It would hinder us to see the true reality. It is said that what we see is effects our mind and how we feel, so in return it changes our perceptions. Therefore one should not advocate forcing art onto someone as it can really harm their growth and having lack of individuality. Susan Sontag, in my understanding knew the impact of art, which further evolves as expressions (gestures etc.), which can be classified as actions. So it is a very subtle act in definition such as gesture but if it’s defined as art, it really can have a huge impact as it may dictate peoples way of life.


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