It is curious that few good films have been made about creative artists. To be sure, there is no end to potboilers about Vincent van Gogh, Jackson Pollock, and Michelangelo, but these are studies of turbulent personalities in which the art serves to establish the motivation and to set the plot in motion—in other words, it is a MacGuffin, to use Alfred Hitchcock’s term. This is because artistic creation itself is fundamentally uncinematic. Cinema proceeds in visible time, and artistic creation is neither visible nor time-bound. Ideas are instantaneous; you cannot have half an idea. And so cinema has found extravagant outward eccentricity a useful surrogate—a stand-in, so to speak—for creativity.

In truth, a great many of the arts are by nature collaborative.

The notion that artistic creation derives from geniuses...


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