Monday, October 26, 2009

Creative Fungibility : Open Thread

Someone in a conversation recently (I'm afraid I don't recall who, that's how much I've been talking lately) noted that the significant bursts of creativity in the United States throughout the last century came sequentially in distinct disciplines. There was a leap forward in music, followed by one in writing, followed by another in visual art, followed by one in film, or some other such chronology (I really do have to start drinking ginkgo biloba tea, I know). The point though is that there often (if ever) wasn't an across-the-board leap forward in all the arts, but rather isolated periods in which one or a mix of a few seemed to fair well, while others seemed to be engrossed in their own crisis.

This shift in which discipline is advancing seems to be related to current events, as well, leading me to wonder whether some creative platforms are better suited to respond to certain issues. Indeed, as noted in the text for the the incredibly addictive exhibition at MoMA curated by Barbara London, Looking at Music: Side 2:
In the mid-1970s, right on the heels of Conceptual art and Minimalism, many visual artists turned to making raw, hard-edged work that addressed urban blight and bad economies. With an ear set to punk, these artists worked in the netherworld between music and media, often forming their own short-lived bands. Their rough, do-it-yourself projects pushed the envelope of interdisciplinary experimentation, which soon spread to underground venues from New York to London, Düsseldorf, and Krakow. This exhibition features music videos, super-8 films, drawings, photographs, and zines from MoMA's collection that explore the melding of music, media, and visual art in the final decades leading up to the twenty-first century.
The exhibition highlights some of the musicians also known for their visual artwork, such as Patti Smith or David Byrne, but the title of the show suggested something else that I've been wondering about: Is the hunger for what art feeds you it's own entity and entirely indifferent to the form of that food? And on the flip side, is the wish to express oneself through some creative discipline essentially independent of which medium one chooses.

The obvious answer, based on folks who succeed in multiple media, would seem to be yes, it's independent, but then we have the "born painters" or "born dancers" phenomenon which would seem to suggest a sort of autism if truly the case, rather than simply a choice.

Consider this an open thread on the meaning, if any, of creative fungibility.

Labels: creativity, open thread


Blogger Stefano Pasquini said...

Yes, I think you're right. Arts have always "mingled" together, and us artists are helped by any cultural ferment around us, whether it comes from our type of art or not. I may add that the cultural, social and political environment is as important - as the contrary shows in Italy right now: the country is in the middle of a cultural crisis (the economic crisis doesn't help either, but it doesn't make a fundamental difference at the moment) and it shows from the tentative, uninspired artists who come out of Italy at the moment.
The positive side is that this has become so tangible that the art community has started to address the problem, with exhibitions and debates on blogs and magazines.
Let's see if something new comes out of it.

10/26/2009 10:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does artistic progress in one field versus another really shift or do societal needs influence what is allowed to come to light? After 9/11, poetry and music of the past were immediately used to express sorrow but visual art of the past couldn't (at least to me) lodge itself in quite the same spot. Paintings, like Guernica, and sculptures, like the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, are powerful touchstones but serve a slightly different purpose.

I don't know how sympathetic artistic expression and societal need with each other.

10/26/2009 10:20:00 AM  
Blogger kalm james said...

I think your friend, and the general public have this all back-asswards. There’s always all kinds of creative activity going on. The problem is, how the “powers that be” finally see and understand things, and then acknowledge them, which gives permission for the rest of society to accept them as “significant bursts of creativity”?

Using Barbara London’s example, the Punk influenced period in the mid seventies, all this work had precedence in West Coast art in the fifties (and earlier in Europe) with people like Bruce Conners and Ed Keinholtz. The East Coast tastemakers were oblivious to or prejudice against anything not in New York so for them and their circle of influence, these ideas didn’t exist.

To paraphrase: What are put forth as creative progressions are not so much a product of the artists or their community, but rather the cognition of the audience and its ability to perceive the “value” and “innovation” of the works in question. On a societal level, creativity is limited to what a culture can or can’t understand and accept at any specific time.

10/26/2009 11:25:00 AM  
Blogger Kyle said...

Love your blog

I just launched an Art Social-networking website called If you have time to check it out I'd love to hear your feedback (

10/26/2009 12:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i do not buy the premise at all.

10/26/2009 01:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Dennis said...

The ghost levitates from the machine.

Does your question imply that there is a pure realm of conceptuality? Wouldn't the consequence of such a realm be that the measure of it renders a creative character to be compared by the the achievement of such paramount thinkers such as Mark Twain or Christopher Hitchens? These would be two that readily come to mind in terms of the quality of their worldview rather than the quality of their art form. Is it really possible to appreciate pure conceptuality?

Would it be that contemporary art is trying to levitate into a realm of expression purified of that which mediates it? Are there a class of ideas, a realm of thought that can only be seen via a multiplicity of windows opened onto it?

On the other hand, can there be a singular window whose glass might be polished in such a way as to open a view of this ghost, this realm of conceptuality which shines with the quality of richness that we all seem to clamor for? What of creative thinkers such as Salman Rushdie? Isn't his work grounded more obviously in a traditional form, literature, and yet there is a succinct worldview that is unmistakeable? And if not for a writer of novels, then a painter of canvases? A musician? A film maker? It seems that this would imply that a pure realm of conceptuality must by necessity be refracted into media before it can be recognized, much less understood by an audience, that the observer cannot dispense with the instruments that deliver observation.

10/26/2009 01:37:00 PM  
Blogger Stefano Pasquini said...

James you are of course right. However I do think that the outside organization around creativity majorly influences the work. For example, here in Italy I know a lot of high quality artists who barely make any work now, as they produced work only when they had a show coming up, and their dayjob justabout allowed them to do so. Since this would barely be considered an art career, curators and galleries slowly faded away, letting more ambitious (or richer) artists to take their place. My take is that if they lived in a more "normal" country (ie. one that takes into account your merit, your resume' and your work - other than who you know and how powerful are your friends) they probably would have had a nice mid-range career, or certainly a few more gratifications.

10/26/2009 03:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Creative fungibility? Not in my backyard!

10/26/2009 03:38:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

What is progress?

The common wisdom (I don't remember who said it either) is that writing proceeds visual arts - in some ways being a "quicker" medium.

This means that ideas somehow inform content - that the "program" or "narrative" is independent (the ghost in the machine) of the medium.

This is somewhat mechanistic (Cartesian) and reductionist (atomistic) as well as abstract.

But still, I can agree there is something in the idea of zeitgeist beyond style (enlightenment/anti-enlightenment, modernist, postmodernist, structuralist, post structuralist, wholistic, tell me oh wise ones)

My theory is that societies evolve and mature in the same way (macro) as individuals (micro) and that this notion of progress, while mostly an illusion based on oscillations between simplicity (finite order) and complexity (chaotic order) or the like, is our awareness of these changes.

Like a game of GO or chess, there are is a time to burn the bible.

As fall progresses to winter, thoughts turn to the long view ... and summer.

But technological progress is another matter. Sure, set up a goal post and kick the ball through it.

10/26/2009 05:07:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Also, food is very important to the creative process - more than inner necessity, I have found.

10/26/2009 05:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Larry said...

"There was a leap forward in music, followed by one in writing, followed by another in visual art, followed by one in film, or some other such chronology (I really do have to start drinking ginkgo biloba tea, I know)."

I'm still wondering how literally I'm supposed to take this chronology. Of the art forms in America, literature has always been one of the strongest from colonial times forward, while music and painting seem to have found themselves in this country largely in the 20th century. There are any number of literary giants in 19th century American literature - Hawthorne, Melville, Poe, Twain, James, Whitman, Dickinson, Crane - but how many composers from that time can you name of similar stature? Certainly not Parker, McDowell, Foote, or Amy Beach, though I rather like some of Chadwick. But then the 20th century starts and you have first Charles Ives, and going forward Copland, Ruggles, Barber, Carter, and quite a few others in classical music, not to mention jazz and rock. As for painting, I would say Copley was probably the strongest colonial figure, but who is most important from the 19th and early 20th centuries? I suppose Sargent, Whistler, Mary Cassatt, Hassam.

Sorry for rambling, but I'm not grasping the question posed by the thread.

10/26/2009 05:12:00 PM  
Blogger tony said...

Good for you, Larry, because I too am lost. The problem may be that Edward is mixing with people who are happy to lob the ball into the air without giving too much account to where it comes down - that is, on our heads.

The only things I can make out are notions of 'progress' & linearism (whatever that is ?).

Perhaps the shift in cultural 'strengths' in American history could be related, in part, to the ever changing & different cultural backgrounds from which successive waves of immigrants came & how they impacted on previous waves who had already established themselves.

I'm not suggesting that this is an important ingredient but just one, no matter how small, that one could throw into the pot.

10/26/2009 07:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Larry said...

Part of my problem is that I don't know why the word "fungible" is being brought in here, where as far as I can see it does not apply. For something to be fungible, it must be capable of being exchanged with something of the same kind. I made the point weeks ago on another thread that original works of art are not commodities and not fungible, because by definition they are unique (unless perhaps if they are produced in multiples, like Andy Yoder's golden eggs). Commodities like crude oil, wheat, and gold are fungible. The 9-foot high Andy Yoder bowling pin in Ed's gallery is not.

So although I am aware of creative people who have succeeded in multiple media - e.g., Berlioz in music and letters, Schoenberg in music and painting, Blake in poetry and engraving, Balanchine in choreography and conducting - I'm not sure how that fits into the topic, and in any case most of these figures were primarily known for one dominant art. And then there were figures who merely fancied themselves capable of working in more than one art. Courbet for example fancied himself also a composer, and annoyed Berlioz mightily by singing his ditties when the composer of the Symphonie Fantastique sat for his portrait.

10/26/2009 09:38:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

I think many investors believe art is in fact fungible, and I'd be interested to hear who has been talking about this - there was a recent column in the NYT about How Becky Smith of Bellweather was abandoned by her wall street supporters in her darkest hour of need - a morality tale of sorts - and thought I suspect the art world will go on, it behooves us to check our chairs and lend a blanket should the chill cut too deep!

10/26/2009 10:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Larry said...

`There's fungibility for you!'

`I don't know what you mean by "fungibility,"' Alice said.

Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. `Of course you don't -- till I tell you. I meant "xxx!"'

`But "fungibility" doesn't mean "xxx,"' Alice objected.

`When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.'

10/27/2009 07:46:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Alright, alright...simmer down. :-) What I meant to throw up for debate and hoped the thread might lead to on its own, without my spelling it out, (and at no point had it included an attempt to redefine "fungibility") was whether there are born communicators/artists in each generation who, for circumstances beyond their control, are drawn to the medium most capable of expressing the message/idea/etc. they possess to the others around them? Is creativity independent of medium? Is creativity something that will seek out form according to circumstances outside the artist?

Sorry for making it so complicated with my careless use of the word.

10/27/2009 08:09:00 AM  
Blogger markcreegan said...

Is creativity independent of medium?

Absolutely true in my case. And what was interesting for me to discover was how certain sensibilities expressed in one medium translate to another. But one cannot also deny that new sensibilities arise out of dealing with different materials and strategies. AT first it may be easy to write it off to ADD- inflicted meandering, but intersection points are discoverable.

none of that takes away from the fascinating aspects of complete, mono-media-mania. I do think there are born painters, born photographers, etc, but there are also those that are stuck.

10/27/2009 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger Bill said...

Is creativity independent of medium?

IMO it is. The artist chooses the medium.

Something Jasper Johns said seems relevant here:
"An artist probably has a particular energy that needs to be explored, some kind of central force. And anything he does connects to that in some way, so that many ideas somehow simplify into a larger idea, or a different idea, which means that you're able to connect different thoughts to one kind of thought. Then you realize that that's that artist."

10/27/2009 11:29:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Bingo! Thanks for that JJ quote, Bill...that's what I'm talking about exactly.

10/27/2009 11:34:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

The bottom line is it takes time to make good work in any medium.

As mentioned above, there are people who have no business doing anything but what they are good at. Take Sir Paul McCartney, arguably a great musician but a rather drab expressionist painter. Will he get better? I doubt it. Look at John "Cougar" Mellencamp. Good painter? Why is it that these musicians gravitate towards expressionistic painting?

Or are they bad musicians?

I do thin sensibility translates somewhat - if given the chance. Billy Childish is a little more self aware but then maybe it is because he went to art school?

Joni Mitchell? Self Portraits?
David Byrne? Pot pipes?

And on the other end, Julian Schnabel's album "Every Silver Lining has a Cloud" is terrible.

10/27/2009 11:34:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

and yet Schnabel's films are excellent

10/27/2009 11:57:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

I was just looking at Laurie Anderson - "Oh Superman" - she's a storyteller, as is Schnabel - as is everyone. Most people default to the trivialities of what they did that day - the content isn't as important as the message: I care, I belong, I exist.

Tone, is often more important than narrative or literal content.

Julian Schnabel makes movies - I find them overly sentimental, sappy, even - but to each their own (I do shed a tear once in a while to clear the ducts and fairy tales do have a certain appeal - even sad ones).

Film is a collaborative medium - Even Schnabel knows you need one. Just saying. What is it that makes Schnabel's films his?

10/27/2009 12:21:00 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

You're welcome Ed.

Following Zip... I wonder what the motivation is for the people mentioned in Zips post? Do Paul, Joni, Tony have too much time on their hands? In time, will they be better painters? Is it ego? Or their subordinates advising them to pad their bank accounts? Or has their creativity drawn them to the other "medium"?

10/27/2009 12:31:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

There is a danger in attributing reasons after the fact. In general I think that creative developments tend to be cyclical. Cyclicality occurs because of how new cultural activities engage the populace. They start off slowly build to a crescendo of interest and then fade down into the general fabric of culture.

If we consider the various mediums, literature, music, painting, film etc, each has a particular flexibility to change and they are not all the same. This implies that the cycles among the different mediums will have different periods, the cycle length from birth to commonplace.

I think there are certain historical periods which 'reset' the various mediums causing a near simultaneous boost in creative change and energy. It is also possible for a single artist or group to have the kind of creative energy which fosters this kind of reset-change.

In particular I think music has a way of causing these moments of focus. The period at the start of cubism was one, maybe 1955, the Beatles and Rock and Roll. I do not think that 911 was one of these periods but I do think the election of Obama and the Financial Crash was. It is clear to me, from what I hear both online and in face to face discussions, that artists are dissatisfied with the status quo and seeking change.

10/27/2009 06:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Gam said...

I'd concur with Georges feedback loop but applied to the artist and art.

the accuseds’ advocate might even claim:
in terms of appreciating different art forms:
We all live, but each of us live our lives distinctly. As we all love, yet the love we are graced to share in this world is utterly unique and incomparable to each others, -yet it is simply love. Like the apple and the orange, they remain utterly different. Yet on the level of fruit they are fungible,

in terms of does the artistic impetus derive from the media or the practioner ...

Like some staggering drunk, to and froe the yellow tailed butterfly flittered across the meadow, high above, silently the raptor floated, waiting, watching... there! it plummets from the heights gathering momentum as it streaks earth ward, in a gut wrenching roll, talons buried deep, it gathers the leaping hare into its possession, the antelope bound and rebound away leaving in haste the sound of the calamity and unseen fury, their tails raised high like so many white flags being waved to and froe, the grasses now swaying under the hot wind and their passage, the stalking coyote pauses, tail still marking its past, while in the shallows, the minnows watch with trepidation as the shadows moved across the lakebed.

Earth has but one gravity, yet all creatures, land bound or not, move differently under its caress. Possibly, it is similarly the artists' gravitas that structures the differing art media's impetus- contrary to the artist being the cause of the artistic expression. Often somewhere in a painting it takes on a life of it's own, and the artist becomes witness. I'm not certain how much an artist actually controls the given art work. Yet obviously without the artist the form can take no formal shape. Possibly each art media is limited differently by the same artistic "gravitas", occasionally the resulting form is expressed equally elegantly. Yet typically the same force applied equally to two different media gives disastrous results.

The light falls equally from the sun, but the colours dance differently on the lands.

that was a fun bunch of mumble jumble!

10/28/2009 06:08:00 AM  
Blogger The Reader said...

I'm a bit of a pluralist so I tend to want to agree with everyone, at least if I think if their explanation fits one aspect of the phenomena being described. I think this is the case with the original suggestion that major creative outpourings tend to cycle through various media.

While this is clearly an over-simplification, it does point to an important aspect of "creative fungibility". And that is the way that artists will often translate creative energies across different media. An obvious example is Jackson Pollock's relationship to Jazz. But you could also think about the relationship between Rauschenberg's monocromes and John Cage's compositions.

The problem with the original formulation is it is clearly not the case that Jazz simply begets abstract expressionism which begets the next movement. Point being that visual artists could still be coming up with interesting translations of the energies of 1940s and 50s jazz 60 years later.

Although, coming back to the original argument, I think that creative people are often drawn to the forms of expression that are most immediately connected to their contemporary experience. What jazz was for Jackson Pollock, hip hop is to any number of visual artists.

10/28/2009 07:00:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Remember, matter can be turned into energy but energy cant be turned into matter, because of the force of entropy or something.

so is it like orgone energy or something?

Pure energy, bro.

10/28/2009 09:46:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10/28/2009 11:12:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

Ed Is the hunger for what art feeds you it's own entity and entirely indifferent to the form of that food?

What do you mean?

10/28/2009 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

Again, I want to caution against making arbitrary connections. Yes, Pollock may have had a relationship to Jazz, but so did every artist who listened to Jazz since Ragtime. "Jazz" was popular music. Music is the sound track of the culture.

10/28/2009 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger George said... the wish to express oneself through some creative discipline essentially independent of which medium one chooses.

The obvious answer, based on folks who succeed in multiple media, would seem to be yes, it's independent, but...

Do we want to express something and then choose the suitable medium, or do we select a medium and then look for something to express? There is no evidence that those who utilize multiple mediums are any more effective at expressing themselves. For the most part the problem is not the medium but the lack of a durable and compelling message.

10/28/2009 11:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thinking about the "durable and compelling message"...

Uhhh... don't even want to go there.

10/28/2009 04:40:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Anon, you're misreading me. It's my fault for playing off McCluhan. I was only alluding to the subject of the artists expression, whether it be beauty or something else. I completely disagree with Ed's multiple media idea, I think it's faddish at best. Most artists have a hard time effectively expressing themselves in one medium let alone two.

10/28/2009 06:33:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

word. I only make art about death,.,.,

10/29/2009 01:35:00 AM  
Blogger CAP said...

I always wanted to find painting's equivalent to The Butthole Surfers, but I never did.


10/29/2009 02:13:00 AM  
Blogger The Reader said...

I don't think the link between Pollock and Jazz is in anyway arbitrary. His work can quite obviously be read as a kind of structured improvisation with paint rather than sound. The title "Autumn Rhythm" makes the link to music explicit.

Clearly this link can be overstated but it seems to me to provided a convincing account of one of the no-doubt-many influences that fed into Pollock's creative practice.

In the Rauschenberg-Cage case the the translation went in the other direction: from visual arts to music. Cage talks about how Rauschenberg's white paintings gave him the courage to perform his famous 4'33.

These are two of the most obvious examples, but clearly artforms feed into each other in far more subtle, nuanced and difficult-to-trace ways than what we see from these examples.

10/29/2009 06:50:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

Art and music? Mondrian or Kansinsky would have been a better choices. De Kooning was the one with the great Hi-Fi. The thing is, unless your 75 everything we know about these artists is hearsay, from books and interviews. While these anecdotes are interesting, often inspiring, they have a way of glossing up the truth a bit. That said, I would be the first to agree that popular music, including underground, has a big affect on the arts because it is the soundtrack of the time we are living through.

However, a profound change in how music is heard has occurred over the last 100 or so years. In the early years of the 20th century, popular music was performed for ones own enjoyment. As the century passed, recordings became dominant along with radio. As we progressed towards the present, an interesting thing has occurred, there is now a very-very large archive of recorded music available to us.

I am old enough to remember just Radio (early 1950's, no TV) with a limited popular playlist. Today we have the ability to create a musical playlist drawn from a century of popular music plus classical, ethnic etc. It is no surprise that art forms have also sought out and established a broader diversity in styles and media in the present era.

This is a new era, one which i believe is profoundly different than what was only 40-50 years ago. Technology allows us to access much more of the culture than ever before, not only music, but also in film, art, books, etc. Artists are selecting music for a particular artwork, from more than just the popular feeds. I think this always went on (ok, Jazz and Pollock if you insist) but today I suspect it's more varied and tailored. I think this bifurcation of the old cultural linearity is bound to produce some interesting and unexpected results.

10/29/2009 11:47:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

Also, The first LP records were introduced in 1948. Prior to that records were single's and one had to manually reset the record player at the end of the song.

10/29/2009 11:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We're talking as though all artists consciously select their medium when what they happen to brush up against in life largely determines it for them. There are many examples of artists who manage to achieve a lot in one discipline but have a profound love for another.

Some people can express everything they need to from a single medium and others need to switch between them. Here's a personal example: when my mother was dying I quit painting and turned to writing to clarify the experience. After she died words felt inadequate and I returned to painting. Perhaps I'd be a better painter if I kept the blinders on and made everything I wanted to say travel through a brush but I tend to think I should push any door to perception that opens. My hunch is that society grapples with current reality in much the same way - choosing the best tool for the job.

Many of the comments here are framed around the idea of success (which I'm assuming to mean good work - especially as determined by others) as though it were some kind of moral imperative. The primary motive for changing mediums is often, I believe, psychic survival.


10/29/2009 02:16:00 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

Reader said: "The title "Autumn Rhythm" makes the link to music explicit."

George said: "...everything we know about these artists is hearsay, from books and interviews."

I agree more with George -- because the hearsay, from the books and interviews also says that the titles for Jackson's paintings (including Autumn Rhythm) were often "made up" well after the work was finished -- the process involved Jackson, his wife Lee Krasner, sometimes Clem Greenburg and other friends, sitting around the table putting forth various word combinations until something "stuck".

Pollock loved Jazz - indeed. But he didn't usually "paint" with Jazz music playing - there was no electricity in his barn/studio. He didn't need a soundtrack playing to create the paintings he did.

Pollock is, however, one of the best examples of what that JJ quote refers to... "An artist that has a particular energy that needs to be explored, some kind of central force..." AND "you realize that that's that artist."

10/29/2009 03:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cathy: "We're talking as though all artists consciously select their medium..."

Do you mean its an unconscious choice?

10/29/2009 03:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What I mean is things happen. You have a piano in your home as a child and so you play the piano rather than the french horn (which you always adored). Your carpenter father lets you play with his tools and so you wind up a sculptor rather than a painter.


10/29/2009 05:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


My father was a carpenter. I chose to be a painter.

10/29/2009 05:15:00 PM  
Blogger The Reader said...

Interesting point about Pollock's titles. However I would never suggest that the jazz link is in anyway the definitive explanation of Pollock's work, only that there are clear aesthetic parallels between his approach and the forms and structures of Jazz. This parallel doesn't rely on facts such as whether or not he listen to Jazz as he painted.

The energies of the artforms that we are deeply engaged with stay with us in profound ways that do not require the immediate presence of the artwork-in-question for us to translate those energies into our medium of choice, (at times this is conscious translation and at other times it is something we do less-than-consciously)

"I think this bifurcation of the old cultural linearity is bound to produce some interesting and unexpected results."

I agree that we potentially live at a time when our relationship to an archive of recorded media can significantly alter the relationships between various artforms in really interesting ways that go beyond simple causal relationships between media.

Which is perhaps not so great for art historians who like neat explanations of the "progress" of art history but it is definitely a very interesting time to be an artist.

10/29/2009 08:32:00 PM  
Anonymous kim matthews said...

The Johns quote nails it. I think that young artists experiment with all sorts of things and eventually find something that really makes sense instinctively. From there it's a matter of developing a way of working and a formal language. I can see why Ed would pose this question; the myth of the "renaissance (person)" is as rampant as the romance of the singular genius cranking out masterpieces in isolation. Very few artists can really excel at multiple disciplines but I think because we live in a time of expedience, extreme exhibitionism, and mediocrity (bad bad combo), there's more of this kind of indulgence than ever. Why waste time becoming highly skilled when you could be out being seen?

10/31/2009 04:46:00 PM  

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