“Every man needs aesthetic ghosts in order to live. I have pursued them, sought them, hunted them down. I have experienced many forms of anxiety, many forms of hell. I have known fear and terrible solitude, the false friendship of tranquilizers and drugs, the prison of depression and mental homes. I emerged from all that one day, dazzled but sober. … I did not choose this fatal lineage, yet it is what allowed me to rise up in the heaven of artistic creation, frequent what Rimbaud called “the makers of fire,” find myself, and understand that the most important encounter in life is the encounter with one’s self.”
Those are the words of Yves Saint Laurent, the iconic fashion designer whose collection I toured yesterday at the Denver Art Museum. The exhibit took my breath away—its beauty is unparalleled in the world of high fashion, although Saint Laurent said “it’s not about fashion, but about style.” I get that. But it saddened me to learn of the darkness that dominated most of his life. The older I get, the more I understand that creating art doesn’t necessarily bring happiness, but for some people it’s just what we have to do.