This expected content is tied closely with identity. Artists are to be not only craftsmen, but seekers of truth at the expense of their person-hood. They are to be existential heroes, finding some formulation of truth within themselves and thereby attaining a type of perfection at the end of their artistic career. The world is to witness this struggle and garner hope from its successful resolution.
The whole modernist conception seems contradictory. How is an artist supposed to maintain a distanced position from their work (to avoid feelings of despondency or trust in the natural self) and yet be able to invest their person-hood into the objects pouring forth from their hands? Even if there is to be a ‘training period’, what good comes from the imprisonment of the idiosyncratic ego? Such attempts to do so are impossible, and perhaps should be abandoned.
Fear and anxiety are brought back into the studio by the very attitude that is supposed to keep such thoughts at bay. The new fear is for relevance and authenticity. There is a struggle for originality. Artists must recreate themselves in order to recreate the world.
Mozart once made the comment that his originality was due to the same cause that made his nose aquiline. I think he was onto something there. As a modern he saw the struggle of many composers of his day to find their way. But a belief in a benevolent Creator afforded him the ability to understand that originality is the province of the God who made him. We are given our authenticity and originality as part of our nature, it is up to us to use our gifts rightly. The proper stewardship of our gifts is what authenticity is all about. We do not need to worry nor do we need to manufacture a persona to deal with social perceptions.
Perhaps a better approach is to inspire our fellows to greater heights. To teach each other to transcend the limitations of our processes, whatever they may be, while bringing each other up in love and unity respects the whole person and the collective.
We truly are not what we create, yet our creations contain a piece of ourselves; it is unavoidable that we invest part of our person-hood in what we do. We need to be aware that if we stifle the natural development of the artist we also give the viewer a simulacrum of art. We would lose ourselves only to lose our audience.