“…solitude like a dream, half-horrific and half-glorious…”

“The cost of transformative art must be paid by the artist alone.  The ridiculous honors we bestow on the few artists we discover – or think we discover – are our gauche attempts at collective repayment.  But to the great artist there comes a realization that he must pay it alone.

He pays anyway. The bill is paid, in large part, with solitude.  A solitude like a dream,  half-horrific and half-glorious, a loneliness so deep that it becomes a kind of companion.

Again and again in [Winslow] Homer’s work the subject turns away, casts off, looks to some task, to some turn of the weather that seems to offer nothing but a reminder of this cosmic indifference.  We look at the fisherman; he doesn’t look back.  Hemingway would crib much of this.  But it was Homer, first, who stared deep into the river, into the ocean, accepting that he might see nothing in return.  Yet he finds in the nothing a comfort.  An unluxurious comfort but a comfort nonetheless.  By the later paintings he has dissolved completely.  Only the waves remain.”

– from J. A.  Ellison’s Winslow Homer On Prouts Neck: A Rumination (1957).

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