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date: 13 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The theological doctrine of creatio ex nihilo attempts to safeguard both the power and freedom of God. If creation is understood as God’s work of art, then creatio ex nihilo is the strongest artistic account of creation possible. The Kantian artist possesses something like this power and freedom, since his or her original and exemplary ideas arise inexplicably. The modern and romantic artistic traditions have perpetuated this myth of the lone artist whose creation is a kind of godlike activity. This chapter claims that “improvisation,” or the fabrication out of what is already on hand, constitutes creativity for humanity. Thus, artistic genius always begins somewhere: creatio ex improvisatio. As a result, tradition is incredibly important to improvising art. Improvisation casts doubt on the myth of the disconnected genius and necessarily maintains a play between quotation and originality.

Keywords: genius, improvisation, Kant, ex nihilo, creation, art, tradition, theology

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