The Rejection of Rules

THERE ARE ARENAS IN LIFE WHERE RULES APPLY. Do this thing, don’t do that thing; there are consequences for those who either do or don’t do the thing. Fair enough. Society needs ways to manage the expectations and behaviors of its members.

Art is not one such arena. If there’s one thing that makes me want to drink gin out of the cat bowl (to misquote writer Anne Lamott), it’s the idea that there are rules in art. Even Picasso, who had an anarchic streak a mile wide, played into this idea when he said we need to learn the rules so we can break them. How I wish he had used the word “principles” instead of rules; there is a vast difference between them.

Rules imply authority, and there is no such authority in art. There have ...

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