In 1984 Suzi Gablik made this observation about the effect that Modernism, and Post-Modernism, had upon art and culture: that the “values of the marketplace” had replaced or undermined any sense of a “meaning-giving function” in the art being created. Artists found themselves in a cultural and economic system that rewarded those who created commodities that met the needs of the Art Market. As Andy Warhol stated, “why do people think artists are special? It’s just another job.”
Warhol has been described as “the art market’s one-man Dow Jones.” And while Gablik did not foresee the influence of the internet she did address the slip into Pluralism, where there are so many ideas about the value and purpose in art, we have no real “pattern of meaning” any more.
In all this chatter, have we forgotten to value – or are we merely ignoring - the C words?
No, not commodity. Considering the social environment that exists, an artist cannot realistically ignore the forces of the marketplace unless he is willing to withdraw completely.
I am thinking more about these C words:
Creativity is the conceptual opposite of commodity. Courage is necessary to resist the status-quo, living in harmony with one’s inner creative values. Compassion allows the artist to find his path between the competing interests of the market, and his authentic, artistic voice. Compulsion drives the artist’s need to reflect his image of the world in his art, and culture is the carrier of all that we value.
August is always one of those transition months: an ending space before the next rounds of painting, submitting, and marketing activities. It's easy to get stuck in August, worrying about what didn't work over the past several months and struggling to figure out what will. If you are feeling stuck, wishing you could stay in August for the next several months, you are not alone. Here are just a few ways I have come across to help get unstuck:
Dig out old journals. Discover ideas that have hung around and are now finding their way back into your consciousness.
Rearrange your studio. Sometimes just doing that gets you out of old patterns and thinking about new.
Don't stress about rejections. One recent show that rejected me pointed out that there were over 1400 applications for approximately 140 slots.
Read books like Rainer Maria Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet, Eric Maisel's Coaching the Artist Within.
Yes, it's a crowded, noisy world out there, but the journey is more solitary than you realize, and from that well you will find your strength.
It means a lot to me that you have taken my words, and my art, into your lives. So I would like to thank and welcome the new subscribers to this blog, and those who have also subscribed to my newsletter. In my newsletter I write more about art technique, my motivations behind specific paintings, and occasionally offer paintings for sale at special prices. Here is a convenient link to subscribe to my newsletter .
I would also like to thank those of you who have purchased my book, Ancient Wisdom: Emerging Artist: the business plan (not just) for the mature artist, over the past month. I hope this book helps you with the intrinsic motivation, as well as offering practical ideas and a bit of humor at the end of the day.