Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Lost Lifestyle

An issue that's been coming up in conversations with artists lately is the notion of a lost lifestyle. It may be a romantic notion of a time that never really was, but I'm hearing it enough to wonder if perhaps there's not something to it. Essentially, the argument is that there was a time in which the decision to become an artist was a voluntary vow of poverty for decades if not one's entire life, that in order to make art of any importance it took years of undying passion and excruciating trial and error. The notion of exhibiting, let alone being paid for one's work, before age 30 or even later was seen as unrealistic. The romantic aspect of this, of course, was the hope that one day it would all pay off and one's peers would recognize and appreciate one's [important] achievement.

In his interview with Joe Fig (which we recently exhibited in the gallery), Chuck Close noted (pdf file):
Contrary to what young… what’s happening with undergraduates and graduates today where collectors are buying work and they are in shows while they are still in school… I actually had a number of opportunities to show my work and I chose not to until 1968 and that was a very conscious decision that had to do with the work. I had a very strong… I still do, belief, that the act of going public is a very important decision and everything we do from the point in which you go public is part of the public record and is out there and you cannot get it back. Anything before that time you go public is nobody’s business and you don’t have to talk about it, you don’t
have to show it, you’re not responsible, you can destroy it all or whatever. But there is something about that decision, okay, I think I can put my neck on the line for this work and I feel strongly enough about it that I will live with however I feel about it later.
And more than just going public or putting the work out there, the sense I'm getting from artists I've been talking to is that a way of living is being lost. Our quintessential cliche of an artist is the paint-splattered, cigarette-smoking, philosophy-reading, early drinker who splits his/her time between the studio and the cafes and bars where other artists meet to debate and/or conspire. But that's not what I'm hearing them lament. It's more a sense that it's no longer acceptable to build one's life around one's artmaking. Instead one has to build one's life around one's career.

What gets lost in that, of course, is Art that comes from a lifestyle that's built around one's artmaking. Oh, there are a few artists who manage to still do this---Andrea Zittel is a good example---but she's an extreme case. And of course there's the crop of hipster artists whose work about endless partying and amatuer rock bands may capture a moment in time very well, but how's that gonna serve them when they're sixty? (I suspect they'll be making excuses for that earlier work similar to the ones Madonna's now making for her "Sex" book, if they're still making art at all.)

Taking a longer view, perhaps the careerist focus is simply a natural evolution in the history of artmaking. The lifestyle I'm hearing artists bemoan is a realitvely recent development, I believe (wasn't the earlier model of long-term apprenticeships even more careerist than what we see today?). In an age of hyperspecialization, that Left Bank slacker model may serve more to close doors for artists than build up to some perfect coming out point.

Then there's also the question of what's raised by Faith Ringgold's image (above) as to whether that culture was exclusionary and we're better off without it for reasons that transcend nostalgia. Still, what both the apprenticeship and incubating models had over the grab-em-out-of-the-cradle model is a proven commitment to the pursuit, let alone some evidence of maturity. But we've been all over that terrain several times. What I'm most interested in here is whether a lifestyle has been lost and if so does that matter and if so why?


Blogger Mark said...

Ahh, the good old days. Did artists ever sit around in cafes? Perhaps, but most sucessful artists are workaholics as with any career focused group. I think we also have to seperate cultural differences. Other than the Ab-ex alcoholics at the Cedar Bar, Europeans tend to be more the cafe crowd. How about the on-line cafe like le' Edwardos'.

7/26/2006 10:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Matthew Nash said...

Great piece.
One thing that occurs to me, though, is that there is a certain part of becoming an artist that requires exhibitions and a public life. Even young artists who are still in, or fresh out of, school need to gain the experience of presenting their work to others.

It's a topic I've written about several times, and I'll put some links below, but for most artists and arts communities these young artists grow up in the alternative spaces and non-profits. Now, I realize that your piece refers to those who are making the jump from school immediately to major success, like Dana Shutz, and cases like hers are fascinating on a bunch of levels. But more often, young artists are just struggling to get by, making money as bike couriers or accountants, or working odd jobs in the art community until something happens. From my own experience, and that of many of my friends, they need these public moments of support to continue making art and being involved.

It seems to me that the social and supportive need that was onced fulfilled in the hallways of dirty studio buildings and at those coffee shops and cafes has been replaced by the social environment that springs up at events and openings, performances and whatnot at non-profit galleries, basement shows, in parking lots and alleys and wherever folks can hang their work. The careerists have their gallery and their dealer and their collectors, but most artists I know have their friends, a case of PBR and some blank walls to hang some art on. Perhaps one day we'll lament the loss of this lifestyle to whatever comes next?

Here is the promised link.

7/26/2006 10:59:00 AM  
Anonymous eva said...

I remember vaguely that in some of my first shows (70s, early 80s), I did not even have prices up or slides of every work. At that point, I certainly wasn't chasing down curators either... but we were not thinking much about even that word or position then. It was more of a mission, not a career.

Not to say we did not want to 'live as an artist.' But like you imply here, to 'live as an artist' maybe meant different things.

The more you show, the more it hits you that you have been growing up in public. And slowly you realize that even though you are getting better, more focused, not everything has to be shown.

7/26/2006 11:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Bnonymous said...

I think it's fantastic that visual art is being supported more and more. It's silly, in my view, to worry about the money spoiling the youngsters. Yes, it encourages some distortions, but I think it's great there's more money and opportunity around. There will always be obnoxious self-promoters, they're unstoppable anyway.

7/26/2006 11:08:00 AM  
Blogger painterdog said...

It's silly, in my view, to worry about the money spoiling the youngsters.

That's not what Chuck Close is takling. He is talking about having one the intelligence to see your work, and to understand the public arena. Yeah its great that you have gallery owners and their hedge fund friends trolling a select group of grad programs but is this good for development?

I think Matthew Nash has it right in terms of the reality for most people.

7/26/2006 11:56:00 AM  
Anonymous David said...

What I'm most nostalgic about is those early days of the internet. :)

Seriously, things change. It's easy to romanticize the artist lifestyle, but there's a big difference between lifestyle and making art. I doubt the master/apprentice lifestyle is much romanticized because it sounds too much like work. What gets everyone's nostalgia up it seems is the NY ab-ex period, and I guess 19th century France. But there's no going back. First of all, few people back then even wanted to be artists. It was a fringe pursuit. Now it's the thing to do. The field is totally overcrowded, like the 405 freeway (or I guess like those subways you folks have). And as far as debating and conspiring, isn't that what blogs are for?

These days the best way to live the artist lifestyle is to go to law school. At least you've be able to afford a loft.

7/26/2006 11:58:00 AM  
Anonymous bnonymous said...


I understand Close's argument, but it really only applies if you care about your historical legacy, blah, blah, blah. Maybe Close knew that he would be a great artist when he decided not to show his unformed stuff and maybe its also evidence that he was canny enough to do well in his career, but for most of us, this advice simply doesn't apply. My point is that suffering for art is pointless if you can avoid it. It doesn't help your work to be poor. Yes, having too much attention too young can hurt, but how many young artists are really suffing from that malaise? 25? 100? I doubt it's a thousand. But the art world seems to be a more robust and reasonable place to seek a living than in the past. The riches seem to go only to a few, young and old, and that always will rankle. I've had plenty of heartbreak in the art world and plenty in my personal life. I've been poor and ignored. I'd be a better artist, I'm sure, if it had been otherwise.

7/26/2006 01:36:00 PM  
Blogger chrisjag said...

I'm not sure what lifestyle has been lost, but I know that the current culture of pursuing "success" early and quickly (rather than development) does cause a loss of thought - because being product driven precludes experimentation and risk. "Products" are very thin, very fast - and usually are appropiating more mature artists to bolster their existence. "Fast Crap" is what I like to call it. Living in NY certainly creates this financial pressure to succeed quickly - precarious. Long live Chuck Close.

7/26/2006 02:21:00 PM  
Blogger Ashes77 said...

when I first started art school in the late 80's, artists wore army field jackets, had more stylish, though at first glance, shabby haircuts, and read paperback books, herman hesse and jp sartre etc. They were part of or trying to be part of an intellectual field. I thought what Close was decrying was the sense that making art was previously an intellectual undertaking with all of the lifestyle trappings that trying to do that entailed. What is lost is more than a lifestyle in the fashion-marketing sense, but the idea that intellectual pursuits are worthy. The complaints about money, riches, gallerists are one thing, but the utter abandonment of intellectual rigor in pursuit of horse-race celebrity politics have been far more devastating. Granted, the theory has been a bit harder to follow, perhaps so much so that art schools abandoned teaching most of it.

7/26/2006 02:21:00 PM  
Blogger Joseph Barbaccia said...

There are 24 hours in the day. You spend @ 8 hours sleeping That leaves 16 hours. The more you spend working on your art the more your work develops. The more you spend working on your career the less you spend on your art. Simple really. People just gravitate to what they enjoy. If you like to make art, that's what you spend your time doing. If you prefer a career in art, you spend your time pursuing that. Sure, the artist's lifestyle has changed. But that's because the value of art objects has become more important than the value of art.

7/26/2006 02:45:00 PM  
Anonymous George said...

Until the 80's, one could "struggle to get by" working about 1/2 the hours required today. This left more time for working in the studio. I'm not sure if Close's delayed approach is the right path for everyone, but because the cost of living, school loans etc, it is a luxury that many cannot afford.

7/26/2006 03:03:00 PM  
Anonymous David said...

You spend @ 8 hours sleeping That leaves 16 hours.

Hmm, I come up with different numbers. You spend 7 hours sleeping, you spend 10 hours at your day job, 2 hours getting to and from your day job, 2 hours eating... I'm losing track, how many hours are there in a day again?

7/26/2006 03:32:00 PM  
Anonymous George said...

Re: Ashes observations...

What's been lost is the real dialogue that went along with the idea of the Bohemian lifestyle. It's been replaced, at least in this country, by the sound bite.

7/26/2006 03:42:00 PM  
Blogger bluebalz said...

the thing i had is the privacy and quietness that anonymity brings, i had many years before i showed my work, developing and experimenting, reading a lot, drawing and just plain growing up. it wasnt pretty, it was lonely, it was just what being a young artist was in the 80's. success was something you got after all of this occured, i wouldnt want to relive that struggle, but i had faith in myself and things eventually got better. Ashes77 has a really valid point, that there was an intellectual curiosity that would fuel and nourish my work, or myself. there was no climb for celebrity, at least there wasnt in my nerdy crowd. i know the 80"s were different for others.

7/26/2006 03:44:00 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

bluebalz? is that from waiting?

7/26/2006 04:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well it was cheaper to live in NYC in the late seventies and eighties,, you made less, but I can remember a friend who live on avenue C or near it who paid 300 per mont for one bedroom. Mind you that area was funky then, but it was cheaper than it is now, even with the cost for inflation.

7/26/2006 04:11:00 PM  
Blogger chrisjag said...

I always purpose to ask older/famous artists what they did for money 5-10 years after school. They all report quietly working very regular jobs for a very long time. I think this "lifestyle of the past" is a myth. I would seriously be suspicious of any artist complaining about lack of "style" in their life. Sounds spoiled to me.

7/26/2006 04:17:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

".... They all report quietly working very regular jobs for a very long time.... "

That's the way it's been over the last 100 years, that's the way it will be in the future.

7/26/2006 04:47:00 PM  
Anonymous shelf life said...

They all report quietly working very regular jobs for a very long time

The difference between then and now, is that you used to be able to build an art career over time. It didn't matter how old you were. Now if you haven't made it big by the time you hit 28, you've lost your chance.

7/26/2006 05:02:00 PM  
Blogger Ashes77 said...

I am still not sure I believe that people who have made big time before 30 have made much. The example I so often here is Cindy Sherman, over-interpreted and framed into pseudo-intellectualism. And she got a lot of "good" breaks. The people making it in the last ten years don't even have that so I am not so sure I am worried about it. I worry more about having a decent conversation with people who care about form and function and utility and books rather than representation and paying bills. It isn't so much style or lifestyle that have suffered as it seems to be overall quality of life. 25 years of praising businessmen and their supposed acumen.

7/26/2006 05:10:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

shelf life,

You're wrong, it's a fad in the marketplace.

The difference is that 25 years ago no one looked at being an artist as a "career". It's not, graduating from an art school with an MFA is not the same as having an MBA. I'd bet that if we all met up again in 20 years, 1/2 of todays readers won't be full time practicing artists.

7/26/2006 05:12:00 PM  
Anonymous meter reader said...

I worry more about having a decent conversation with people who care about form and function and utility and books rather than representation and paying bills.

I do too, but I find that having unpaid bills makes it hard to concentrate on my reading.

7/26/2006 05:17:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I'd bet that if we all met up again in 20 years, 1/2 of todays readers won't be full time practicing artists.

Read any issue of Artforum from 20 years ago and you'll see that 1/2 is optimistic.

The lifestyle I'm hearing bemoaned, I should note, is not a fashion or fad (i.e., not any trappings or social events, per se), but rather an ability to live for one's art rather than being labeled as a failure for not getting a retrospective by age 29.

7/26/2006 05:17:00 PM  
Blogger George said...


I don't think it's so much the "ability to live for one's art" I think the desire has been derailed by lucre. It's a choice one can make and the pull to become middle (++) class is strong. It may be an American thing.

7/26/2006 05:24:00 PM  
Anonymous shelf life said...

George, I hope you're right that it's just a fad, which by definition means that it will pass. If I recall, 25 years ago, back in 1981, there were some pretty successful artists. Whether they used the word "career" to describe their art activities I don't know, but as their work developed some were able to do it full-time.

And why wait 20 years? I doubt that anywhere near 50% of today's readers (I assume you mean of this blog), are now or ever will be full-time practicing artists. I'll bet that in 20 years only a small percentage of them will be making art at all.

7/26/2006 05:29:00 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

rather an ability to live for one's art rather than being labeled as a failure

Cha...that's totally do-able. Being a sucess is much more than a retrospective. Sucess can be mearly setting a goal to make the best art you can and go to it. Live a full creative life, family, friends and lots of parties, food, music and dancing.
Work hard, be open to the possibilities and great things happen. Don't wait, I think the average life span is only around 78.

7/26/2006 05:33:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Shelf life, feel like I'm talking to the label on a can....

I can remember precisely when the idea that art could be a "career" came into play. It happened around the time of the 60's art boom (Minimalism Pop) before that it wasn't on peoples minds. The idea of doing it "full time" was a dream, something one aspired to but not guaranteed.

Career: Suppose for the next twenty years you could do whatever you wanted to do in the studio. Suppose you didn't have to worry about selling what you made or even what others thought. What would you do?

7/26/2006 05:39:00 PM  
Anonymous shelf life said...

George, the label on the can is art. Ask Andy. Or his ghost.

I guess you were talking about 40 years ago, not 25. If you remember the 60's art boom you're even older than I am, so I have to defer to your experience in the matter. I mean I was alive then, but wasn't thinking much about the NY art world until I got into high school.

Regarding your hypothetical question, I can answer from experience, since I've been making art for more than twenty years. I always do whatever I want in the studio, without regard to what will sell or what anyone thinks. And I expect to do the same for the next 20, unless I get shot or hit by a bus. To me the "career" part of art is what happens outside the studio, and it has a big affect on how much of your time you can spend in the studio.

7/26/2006 06:38:00 PM  
Anonymous rebel belle said...

My mother was an Ab Ex painter in the fifties and sixites, I remember going with her as a child to Cafe Figaro in G Village, to poetry readings, to cold water flats that artists lived in and used as studios. Artists reveled in poverty, they thought they could claim the moral high ground by being cold and drinking cheap wine. But there was a lot of freaking hypocrisy too, lots of artists privately excoriated their patrons and dealers, but they didn't mind living off of them either. It was kind of an inside joke.

This was a LONG time ago, and things have really changed. Back then, artists were uncomfortable talking about money, until they realized that their work in the secondary market was huge, and they weren't getting any of it. Along with all that, Warhol entered the scene, and there was a big sea change. Glam was in, money was okay, and no one wanted to be poor anymore. All this of course wasn't created by artists, they just responded to an era of unseemly abundance.

When there's lots of money in the art market, artists are forced to reassess their relationships with the system.

7/26/2006 09:33:00 PM  
Anonymous priit said...

I see two very opposite positions from these conversations: one is artist working alone, "without regard to what will sell or what anyone thinks". The other is artist "who has balls", artist the übermensch, kind of success faschist (what does 'Triumph of Painting' allude to?) ... Very confusing..

7/26/2006 10:16:00 PM  
Blogger painterdog said...

its all Warhol's fault...

7/26/2006 10:21:00 PM  
Blogger painterdog said...

if your lucky enough to make it its great if your not then your a mench making ends meet and working when you can,

I know a few artist in there late 30's and 40's who teach fulltime. They never have time to do their work.

So the teaching job is just like a fulltime gig except that you have the summers off, which is when you hope to catch up with your work.

Its all about desire. Ambition and being able to put up with a dump truck full of shit.

7/26/2006 10:26:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa Hunter said...

I'm not convinced that money makes people more careerist.

In the 80s, I was part of a group of young NY poets, and if any field is without financial reward, it's poetry. Even so, every conversation was a competitive careerist rant about how so-and-so didn't really deserve to get published in some 2,000-circulation literary magazine that paid in copies. Everyone was cozying up to "famous" poets (yes, back then we thought poets were famous) for fellowship recommendations and hoping one of these great sages would pick them for a career-winning prize. The ultimate goal -- the Yale Series of Younger Poets -- at the time paid $1,000 for a book that had probably taken several years to write. Getting into the then-$20,000-a-year poetry MFA at Columbia was brutally competitive, and long-term friendships were ruined competing over unpaid internships at the New Yorker.

I sure don't remember any pure bohemian golden age, even though I was there.

7/26/2006 11:31:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Taking up where I left off, this is more than just a discussion on Bohemia it is about the FUTURE.

7/26/2006 11:48:00 PM  
Blogger John Morris said...

I also wonder a lot about the dealer's/ industries role in this whole thing. If the scene is about the work then what role are dealers playing in this process.

You would think that the art world would be trying to orient itself around the needs of artists and the opposite seems to be the case.

7/27/2006 12:12:00 AM  
Blogger painterdog said...

Ohhh whats that sound?

its the sound of an art dealers cash register.

They keep all the riff raff out and sell to all the hot collectors.

Without them who would deal with the uber-rich?


7/27/2006 01:31:00 AM  
Blogger painterdog said...

hey no fair your an art dealer.
you should know this..

7/27/2006 01:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Angela Ferreira said...

I am an European and I was born with the cafe-social life. I have to say that my exhibitions are mostly in cafes-galleries, and it gets packed with coffee drinkers admiring my art. It is ok then, more people see my work as most art galleries are normally empty.

7/27/2006 05:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My perspective is one from outside of any urban scene. I live in a small-ish town and spend alot of time each year in very rural environments. I do this because I REALLY like to be alone when I paint. I spent a few short years struggling in nyc and my worked sucked because I had information overload. I was too impressionable. I have been to two different residencies, and I have an mfa that I received in 94. Its not as if I don't know that the social part of building a "career" exists. Its just that I chose to remove myself in order to make what I needed to make so that I could develop naturally. And it seems like a specific choice in retrospect, but really it was too intimidating in nyc. Too much pressure and my work felt weak and insignificant. I felt I needed to make more paintings, be a better drawer, be better with my surface, use color, marks and size to feel my way around a painting. Truely learn more for me, and for my work. I think it is the most important choice I have ever made. My paintings feel like I am in control, I understand the process and the difficulties, they are mine, made from just making and not trying to fit in anywhere. But,I hate my "job for money", and have for close to two decades, yet this life is my choice. My choice was the mindless job, and now I am turning 40, and I find my body aches and I have all of these paintings that sit in a room upstairs. I need them to leave and be seen, and if lucky maybe sold so that I can go back to my isolated place and make more. I have ended up on this blog by way of friends in nyc that fill me in on what to check out. I am making myself learn what it means to have a career out of necessity. I will have a web site, and will increase my dialogue with other painters. And when I think about why I am doing this, its because yes, I need some cash, but realistically, my bubble isn't working anymore. I need some dialogue, I am ready. I will admit, I am intimidated, I don't read art stuff, I don't really know the art scene, except for what I learn through my friends. What I have to share are my paintings and my desire to say that I love all of the mooshy areas, and spontaneous marks I have worked so hard to learn. And perhaps, I will become a better speller and grammer person along the way, but I doubt it.

7/27/2006 08:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well first the good news; your not alone.
Now the bad news; your over 30.

I can't speak for you. If painting makes you happy and you love it keep doing it, look for alternative spaces to show, nix the big name or commercial galleries they will drive you mad and it sounds like you have an issue with being a tad insecure.

I have a friend who photographs art and he does some work in NYC from time to time and he has a friend who wroked in a high-end gallery.

Don't waste your money sending name galleries slides the nice ones just open them and put them into the return envolpe, the not so nice chuck them out.

They only look at artist that are recommended by collectors or people in the biz. Its all who you know in NYC not how good your work is.

There are way to many people wanting to be, and being artist. If your not in some kind of career track with your work it looks bad. You have exhibition gaps, your 40 and I don't know the last time you had a show but how do explain that to a gallery.

I had an experience a few years ago.
I had this "independent" curator who was interested in my work. I had done a group show with her.

She asked me for slides and I told her the slides I had was of work that was 3 years old. I had not been doing work I liked so I was not recording it.

Well she told me she only excepts work that is no less than 2 years old.

This is a small gallery, and I mean small. Its a room above a college library tha knowone ever visits.
Well this is how it is my friend.

You have to be on your game 24/7 and be on top, I got the breeze after that and she has not spoken to me since.

By all means show your work just don't depend on the gallery system as it will grind you down to shadow of your fomer self.

7/27/2006 09:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read your post, your 40 and your body aches, you sound like you have not shown your work since the emid 90'w, so that's what 10 years.

Good luck, do yourself a favor keep painting if that;s what you like to do.

If this is your artist statement you need to get real.

"What I have to share are my paintings and my desire to say that I love all of the mooshy areas, and spontaneous marks I have worked so hard to learn."

I love all the mooshy areas? are you serious? Are you talking about stickey buns or paintings here.

You need to read more and learn to write a statement.

7/27/2006 09:51:00 AM  
Blogger carla said...

Anon at 8:36 -

My artistic path closely dittos yours. After graduating from art school in the early 80s, I put on blinders and plugged away, allowing only minimal input. It still took years to unlearn art school patterns of thinking. (Both related to art and to career), This is not an ideal path, and I don’t celebrate ignorance, deliberate or not, but I'm glad I took it. I was simply too impressionable.

I now feel well positioned for the wonderful academy of art blogs. It's amazing how quickly and precisely one can learn, and how readily one can discern. I feel like a thief, selfishly reclaiming info I ignored for years, and stealthily devouring great input from blogs like this one. My writing and thinking are improving and I hope soon to return some of the thought jewels I’ve stolen. (I’ll work on using less cheesy metaphors ;-)

Maybe this only has relevance for those of us who are not frenetically seeking a standard blue chip art career, but it's worthy to note the alternative motivations for making art, and to recognise the value in them.

7/27/2006 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger carla said...

Let me re-phrase.
Seeking a great art career is not in any way antithetical to making great art. I was reacting to the previous comments' tone.

7/27/2006 10:26:00 AM  
Blogger John Morris said...

I am an artist, who is trying to be a dealer and it is very hard. Partly I came to place like Pittsburgh and have tried to structure my gallery aroud artist's . First of all by picking a location that is good for the artists.

I think that Joe at Pierogi is one of the few dealers that is working to structure his "operation" to suit artists.

7/27/2006 10:35:00 AM  
Blogger painterdog said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7/27/2006 10:46:00 AM  
Blogger painterdog said...

I agree that making work has nothing to do with having a career. The do however interesetc at certin points.

I think the first anon was asking some questions, he or she seems a little confused.
I do agree with the statement however hard that sounds that they should learn to write better.

I went to grad school as well and if had said I love all the mooshy areas, I would have been laughed out of the crit room. You can't speak like a 9 year old when talking about your work. I hate to be a hardass but, if you want people to take you seriously then you need to develop some language skills. It does not mean that one has to become a walking talking art speak monster, but I would find another way of saying mooshy areas.

I also hear alot of insecurity about moving forward, like this person is asking for reinforcement. I think they should paint if that's what makes them tick. I also agree with the comment that seeking alternative venues is a good way of dipping your art toe in the water.

The statement about commercial galleries rings true from my experience. Even with a recommendation your not likley to get into a gallery.

7/27/2006 10:50:00 AM  
Blogger carla said...

Seeking alternative spaces is good advice.

I am sure Anon at 8:36 will learn better ways to express him/herself via these art blogs. They're phenomenal for self-educating.

7/27/2006 11:41:00 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Sometimes mooshy/mushy says it all.... a : having the consistency of mush : SOFT b : lacking in definition or precision.

7/27/2006 01:55:00 PM  
Blogger onesock said...

I think that to bring all that has been said around to the topic, one must define whatever it is to be an artist based upon one's own experience and preferences. Once we begin to let others decide what our career should look like, bitterness sets in. Even if you examine the careers of the established artists, I think you would not find exact duplicates. So who is to say that your path is wrong if it feels right for you.

The choices artists can make in terms of lifestyle, how you put work out in the world, etc. have only expanded. Certainly, there are limitations and roadblocks for those without access or pedigree but I think other paths can be just as fulfilling.

7/27/2006 02:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think what's attractive to people who wax nostalgic over a lost 'cafe culture' of artists is the sense of healthy community that can exist in a less market-driven atmosphere-healthy in the sense that it can nurture, educate and give exposure to younger artists in a less feeding-frenzy, eat-your-young sort of way. That kind of community can and does still exist in pockets, even in NY (I'm lucky enough to belong to one) but the downside is there's a lot less money around.
I think being career-driven isn't neccessarily in opposition to that kind of community, I just think artists need to be thoughtful about what kind of career they're striving for.

7/27/2006 10:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think what's attractive to people who wax nostalgic over a lost 'cafe culture' of artists is the sense of healthy community that can exist in a less market-driven atmosphere-healthy in the sense that it can nurture, educate and give exposure to younger artists in a less feeding-frenzy, eat-your-young sort of way. That kind of community can and does still exist in pockets, even in NY (I'm lucky enough to belong to one) but the downside is there's a lot less money around.
I think being career-driven isn't neccessarily in opposition to that kind of community, I just think artists need to be thoughtful about what kind of career they're striving for.

7/27/2006 10:51:00 PM  
Blogger ec said...

I really love this discussion and thank everyone in it for honesty.
To me the intellectual loss (reflected in myself sometimes) is the biggest hindrance of the art scene.
When desire is in control, seeing the amazing and not-so-amazing work-is a thrilling, always. And fuel for the studio.
That is the perfect balance, hard and necessary to achieve.

7/29/2006 12:00:00 PM  
Blogger John Morris said...

I am not really old enough to have a full idea of what has been lost. But I think someting has. I also think that it is partly gone because artist's have not fought for it.

I moved to Pittsburgh and started my gallery because I was sort of trying to recapture the feeling I had in mid 90's Brooklyn. which seemed to be the last big scene that revolved around the artists. The fact that more people didn't realize what was happening and try to lock in something in was a huge tragedy. Now it just seems like cost pressures are making a scene that is not about the work. The question is whether artists are going to try to do something about this.

7/29/2006 12:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

its happening in all over. I live in boston and the real estate here is so expensive. Artist are losing studios buildings in the droves.
Also the gallery scene is very small.
No money, Boston has the reputation of being cheap, when it comes to money, they don't loke to part with it or they want a deal.

7/29/2006 01:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

I do not agree that artists are less involved in intellectual discourses than ever before. Even sometimes their art suffer for being too intellectually involves.
Artists tend to forget that art is also (and always, somewhere) about aesthetics.

The problem these days is that artists indeed are in their bubbbles and never discussed except through their art. And we never hear from them except a rare sentance in a press release. It is as if they gallerists recommand them to not be in touch with their public, not write on blogs, keep a distanced aura. I wonder if Edward could write an article about this topic some day. Why are artists so out of reach?

There is no dialogue, and artists, if they refer a lot in their works to art from older eras, rarely reference each other in works made today.

I am forced to agree with Michel
Onfray who declared the artworld of today as being autistic: self-absorbed, uncommunicative, concentrated on the object. That doesn't extend to a belief that art for art's sake research has pulled a stop.

I frankly adored the Chuck Close interview (I have an hard time with the Whitney that he directs and how they poorly show any archives (including biennial installations), but that is another issue.)

I feel the same as Chuck, that the reason I haven't shown anything yet is that I don't think I'm ready. And I've also been invited to show by teachers but refused (except for private parties).

The danger is that this may have to do with lack of confidence, which is a whole other issue. Also that art for me is a passion more than anything linked with a career, so that each time I feel I tumbled on a cool idea, I jump on the bandwagon of the next without fully materializing anything, an activity that sometimes sound to me like a waste of time. In this sense I've been more selfish than anything else, or lazy. Sort of keeping the fun to myself.

One thing that I am is a big dreamer. I so often visit spaces and can't help but think of what I would do in them. But you can't just arrive in a gallery and say "hey I want to do this in your gallery NOW". The artworld doesn't function like this and it's discouraging. The art centres function like this but one year application before the show is way too long and boring.

I just feel sometimes
that it is not only me that is not ready for the world but that the world is not set up for me and I need to build everything from scratch.

Doesn't I sound like I will be in the 50 per cent non-artists announced by George? ;-P

>>>Suppose you didn't have to >>>worry about selling what you >>>made or even what others >>>thought. What would you do?

Nothing. Imagine things.

Cedric Caspesyan

8/02/2006 01:21:00 AM  

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