Tekst & Verbeelding

Over kunst, cultuur en natuur

Fountainhead

The authenticity of the individual

Fountainhead

Ode to the authentic

Ayn Rand, known for her controversial book Atlas Shrugged, wrote 
another interesting book, The Fountainhead, in which two young 
architects share the lead. The book, although known for an eponymous theater, is less famous than the other work, which is seen by many as a glorification of capitalism.
The Fountainhead tells a different story. It can be seen as a plea 
for creativity, but above all it is a tribute to the authenticity of the individual.
It was written 75 years ago, but it’s message is still contemporary.

Second hand people 

It shows us what authenticity is, which is so often lacking in the 
world of today. In the book the architect who does not swim along 
with the mainstream, but remains close to his own vision of quality, reaches the top after many setbacks. The other one, who creates what the people want, storing nostalgic neoclassical structures, has finally had it. A happy ending in my view. I hope authenticity will have the lead in the future, but for now mediocrity and copying successes from the past increasingly predominates at the moment.

Eternal source

The title of the book in the Dutch translation means Eternal Source. That title touches precisely what should engage us. The ultimate importance of the inexhaustible source of inspiration and creativity, filled with all the unique characteristics and talents of people together. That source dries up when you only imitate each other. You will have a society with second hand people, as they are referred to in the book by one of the other characters.

New sounds and images

What stands out in this regard is that one celebrates the art of the past and dislikes the contemporary. "That could have been made by my daughter," is the much quoted statement from someone looking at an abstract work. Or: “There are no more good artists. Hail to the past”. And then you hear nostalgic words about the old days with painters and composers from the past who are still very popular. They forget that in those days people with the same conservative look on contemporary art were making fools of these artists who are so admired at the moment. When we are not afraid of new sounds and images, whether in architecture, art or music, we give room for the uniqueness, the authenticity, that in fact every human being has in himself. And that will improve the world for every human being.

December 2016

For comments click here.