“Ok, who is the most important author of the last twenty years? Careful now, not the best, virtuosity is for the arrogant, the most important, the author who has sparked so much morbid curiosity that he became the most important?
-I wouldn’t know. I’d say Philip Roth.
No. Salinger. The most important film director?
No. Kubrick. Contemporary artist?
-Jeff Koons. Or Marina Abramovic.
Banksy. Electronic music group?
-I don’t know the first thing about electronic music.
You say Harvard is a good university! ( The word “Harvard” may impress people around here, but to an American, it means one thing only: decline.) Anyway, Daft Punk. The best Italian female vocalist?
Very good! Now do you know what it is, what the invisible red thread is that connects them all, all these most important figures in their respective fields? None of them let themselves be seen. None of them let themselves be photographed.”
Pope Pius XIII
This reflection of the character portrayed by Jude Law is a message of the utmost importance.
The above-mentioned artists have achieved universal acclaim without sacrificing their privacy on the altar of fame. The price of being a celebrity is so high that it’s often fatal; how many artists lost their minds and, ultimately, their lives after being crushed by that asphyxiating pressure?
Especially referring to Daft Punk, I think they won in life because they can walk free on the streets of their neighborhood without being harassed and they can transform into superheroes just by wearing their helmets.
The choice of protecting their private personas has also had beneficial effects on the magnitude of their success, because mistery sparks curiosity, morbid curiosity. It isn’t sufficient alone but it can boost the aura around a talented artist. Not only is the artist not obliged to clarify the meaning of his works (Our music “speaks for itself” – Daft Punk) but he doesn’t have to manifest his real physical appearance.
It’s a choice usually dictated by one’s character and sensibility but, who knows, one could have made it as a deliberate marketing strategy.
It surely affects the results of the aesthetic experience because of the emotional impact of dealing with an helmet/mask (Daft Punk, Deadmau5) or with our old simple imagination (Bansky).
I believe that the point of the Young Pope is exactly this: the cult of secrecy has the attitude to change the perception of art and has the ultimate outcome of boosting the influence and importance of the artist and his art in our world. And our world is such because it is constituted by our perception.
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