So I know I’m a little behind on this one, NINE came out back in 2009 (haha, Nine, 2009) but I just saw it last night, and it spoke to me very clearly. Now I’m reasonably certain that a great many Christians probably looked down on this movie….very very far down. The main character played by Daniel Day Lewis (who put on a stunning performance in my opinion) is plagued by an addictive personality. I mean this guy smokes, drinks, and sleeps around like it’s his job. Nevermind that he’s supposed to be a film director this guy is in all kinds of trouble and completely unrepentant. What really got me personally about him was the casual acceptance of extra-martial affairs.
But here’s the thing, ultimately Contini (the guy Lewis plays) is the perfect image of the tortured and somehow brilliant artist. Before he was famous he did marvelous work on the screen which in turn made him famous but suddenly the pressure of recreating all of his work is just flushed down the toilet. The running joke throughout the entire movie is that everyone loved his early films, but not so much the flops. And yes there is a nice little moment of restoration and finding his way in his art again but it occurred to me that two basic principles of art are what allowed Contini to get into the mess we witness over the course of the movie: why and who.
Why are you making Art?
Who are you making it for?
And the answer for both questions is three fold and found, of course, in Matthew 22:37,39
Love the LORD: As a Christian artist, everything is about bringing glory and worshipping the LORD. We make art for Him, the stuff we make we make because He told us to do so, and if no one else at all likes what we do, we still do it for Him.
Love your neighbor: Also known as the ideal or first viewer. After God, we only ever make art for one person. Just one person (besides ourselves). This is the only earthly audience any artist should ever care about. Loose your first viewer and you will start loose a grasp on how exactly to convey that which the LORD has given you.
Love yourself: No matter what else we may do as a Christian artist we still do it because we can’t help but express ourselves. Art is that form of expression and we can never forget that we cannot ever, not under any circumstances, produce art for the sake of expressing someone else’s vision. The LORD speaks to us and gives us a voice that is uniquely ours. We can’t let that go or substitute it for something “better.” What’s better than the Hand of the Creator?