@Abe, to take it up a notch about confronting truth, doesn't it follow that the artist should confront truth in the present, not only in hindsight? Or is that what you mean about growing (learning from the past) in order to confront it (the present).
It's possible to confront truth in the present, but this timely confrontation is separate than the making act of an artist. What I mean is that artists can confront truth today, but I hypothesize it impossible to use that present day truth in their art immediately. Just like aging cheese or wine, there's a necessary lag time between truth confrontation and usage of those truths in the creation of art.
The further back an artist travels the easier it is to confront truth. But now as I write this I realize there's a caveat to this. One's ability to confront truths of the past is shaped by how we confront truth today. As in, if we are living a lie today, then when we travel back in time we will be primed to look for untruths that validate our present day lie.
So in a way our ability to confront truths of the past is assemblaged to our ability to confront the truths of today. And likewise, the best way to confront today's truths is to look back where we might find it much more palatable to confront truth.
Yin and Yang.