This assumption of the intrinsically repressive nature of collective experience and redemptive power of individuation is a staple of contemporary art theory and criticism. I would argue that a closer analysis of collaborative and collective art practices can reveal a more complex model of social change and identity, one in which the binary oppositions of divided vs. coherent subjectivity, desiring singularity vs. totalizing collective, liberating distanciation vs. stultifying interdependence, are challenged and complicated.
De kunstenaar is een arbeider lijk gij en ik. Hij maakt schoonheid, en hij wordt daar meestal niet voor betaald. De kunstenaar leeft en sterft met de arbeider mee. Al waar de arbeider naar verlangt, tracht de kunstenaar nu reeds gestalte te geven. Zo is de schrijver niet een dwaas die van sterren en maneschijn zingt, maar een ziener, een profeet over hoe het zou kunnen zijn. Dat is zijn plicht, zoals het de plicht van de arbeider is om de kunstenaar tegemoet te komen.
He was an awkward mixture of strong moral impulse and restless aesthetic curiosity, and yet he would have made a most ineffective reformer and a very indifferent artist.It seemed to him that the glow of happiness must ne found either in action, of some immensely solid kind,on behalf of an idea, or in producing a masterpiece in one of the arts.
It is a matter of artistic instinct. In his own thoughts and feelings and way of doing things an actor is worth nothing or he is worth something. If he is worth something then he will try to be worth something more as is only normal in anyone who wants to get on. I can think of no other way to explain artistic development.
The real importance of automatism lay in the fact that it led to a different relation between the artist and the creative act. Where the artist had traditionally been seen as someone who invents a personal world, bringing into being something unique to his own 'genius', the surrealists conceived themselves as explorers and researchers rather than 'artist' in the traditional sense and it was discovery rather than invention that became crucial for them.