This is the paradox that lies at the heart of the mystery of artistic creation. The meaning which a work of art has for society is not the same meaning that the artist was conscious of putting into it. This is because a work of art is not just a telephone exchange which facilitates straightforward communication. The work of art is in some profound sense an independent, live entity. It has its own life. It draws nourishment from its creator that he was totally unaware of having put into it: and it redistributes nourishment to the spectator (including the artist himself, for he is merely a spectator once the work is completed). What the work itself communicates is a transformation of all that the artist was conscious of investing in it. Its success or failure, as a transmitter of thought or emotion, simply cannot be planned and guaranteed beforehand. This is why I say that to demand a certain result from art in advance is utterly to misconceive the central creative process itself. It is to suppress spontaneity: to batten down on the subconscious.Patrick Heron, Art is Autonomous
First published in The Twentieth Century, September 1955.
Reprinted in Painter as Critic, Patrick Heron: Selected Writings
Editor: Mel Gooding, Tate Gallery Publishing, 1998