Simple tautology, unsatisfying, raising questions rather than answering them.
I immersed in Sarah Thronton’s “Seven Days in the Art World” on Sunday: it’s a nice glimpse into the interlocked world of artists, collectors, dealers, and promoters who define the art world (the whole system around art, distinct, as she points out, from the “art market”, the subspace where works get bought and sold.)
Look away for a moment and think of four ways that visual artists can make money.
Sell their works, teach, take on a commission, be adopted by a patron? The answer is relevant to anyone in in a creative profession: how do you create value , monetize, purely intellectual production? There has to be agreement on value of the work, a liquid marketplace that affirms it’s desirability, and a willing buyer to ratify the judgment.
As depicted in the book, the art world is an interlocking, self-elevating network of buyers and sellers that moves between auctions, fairs, and biennales: continuously recognizing and ratifying value (if not actually taste). Like so many forms of media, the market is short of content, and the more depressing chapters discuss the ways that artists, schools, and journals become extensions of the market’s production and branding process.
The section interviewing sculptor Takashi Murakami drives home the reductionism of this process. Creativity is institutionalized, demanding works that derive from what has already sold. It reminded me of the critical Seattle Times story about Dale Chihuly: at what point can works by others, even if done in his style and under his supervision, still be called “Original Chihuly”?
Or even “Original Art”?
So, an Artist is someone who creates content validated by the art world.
I always carried a more romantic image: an Artist makes their personal perspective tangible and communicative.
Reflecting on that, though, it seems like anyone from a programmer to a writer, a painter to an inventor, could qualify. ‘Not that these varied people don’t act like artists, temperamental and single-minded, but their output doesn’t touch people like high art can.
What is an Artist?
- Art: a superior skill that you can learn by study and practice and observation.
- Artist: a person whose creative work shows sensitivity and imagination.
- Artists: persons who deliberately arrange elements in a way that appeals to the senses or emotions.
I think that last characterization, from wikipedia, appeals to me the most.