The muse and the angel are external forces and therefore inutile until we ingest them and set them in motion, catalyzing duende. Duende is not for the artist who may paint an angel or write a poem, for then the artist is still but an artist who may reach and scratch at both word and image. It seems that duende comes when the artist throws himself into the stew; that he himself is the final ingredient that yields artistic intelligence. Thus, the angel and the muse—the word and the image—require a body and a mind to ignite. Thus, when the artist paints an angel he also writes a poem; he is at once an angel, a poem, a man.

I believe that duende is a rare occurrence. An individual possessing artistic intelligence may be entirely a myth, since duende by definition is fleeting—“spontaneous creation”—and therefore may never truly be harnessed. But there are those who make paintings with words, and those who communicate volumes through paintings. There is an unmistakable trade in relationships here: the word informs the image and vice versa. That spectrum is widely recognized and understood; yet I will argue that this relationship is not merely linear. We ourselves stand at angles between the two, effectively composing a peak to the shape. Draw a line between the three points, between the arches, and we become the peak of a triangle—humans, and their bodies, inform word and speak to image. In motion, the three generate a cycle of information and inspiration. We as people, our bodies, are duende in its arch—flanked by the muse and the angel. Duende is perhaps a force of geometry, the spontaneous creation and agitation of a triangle that defines our lives as humans and artists. The artistic life, then, is an act of triangulation.

Lauren YoungSmith, “Communication Beyond Loss: Lorca’s Triangular Rhetoric”