To sell out or not? Thoughts on a failing economy and the art world…
One of my latest paintings in my swan series….for more go here-
I was reading Art news when I discovered this article, “Where is art going?” which discussed how the failing economy has affected and is currently affecting the art world. Many romantics predicted that the struggle so many Americans are going through will strengthen the art being produced, that art will get more serious again, more profound. Through strife comes a need for a voice, so to speak. But there was another view point that I thought was really important and to be honest, more realistic.
When thinking about how it will affect young and emerging artists I thought this point was very viable, “You sometimes need five to seven years to learn your craft, to pull it together, and you live off the crumbs of a vigorous market,” says painter Alex Katz. “When the market closes down, the crumbs disappear and a lot of artists are pretty much destroyed or seriously hampered.” (Ann Landi, pg 87, A new Creativity-Art News Volume 108)
To be frank, I feel like I am in that margin right now. I’ve had a serious struggle with my work considering my financial difficulties and personal issues with my family that also are a result of financial hardship. If I was stable economically the stress of living off of nothing would not be an issue. I would not have to worry about putting food in my mouth or going to the doctor, and I certainly could have the time to devote myself to my work. Lately I feel seriously destroyed by the economic and personal hardships I have had to endure. While I am still creating, it really is a struggle when you calculate the other things going on in my life. Sure, death and all the other factors that I’ve witnessed in the past year have caused me to create much deeper work than I ever would have in the past, but to be honest it gets hard to keep the momentum when there seems to be no end in sight for the continual struggles that I’ve had to witness.
What is even more troubling is some of the art that is sold so largely on the market these days. I’m not going to criticize anyone personally, but I find that many artists have stopped challenging themselves and reverted to making expensive wall paper. Yes I enjoy beautiful imagery with a graphic quality, but I’m tired of people who recycle the same images over and over again without any urge to push themselves to delve deeper being hailed as geniuses.
Yes, they make what sells, and in these trying times selling seems to be everything. Perhaps this new level of superficiality to the art that I’m seeing is primarily because the economy is so terrible? Poverty has not inspired a new bohemian revolution, but rather a push for capitalism. To be quite frank even the most famous artists of the said bohemian revolution in the 1860s had some sort of financial support to feed their budding egos.
In all truth though, I was never good at selling out.
(note–I am by no means insulting any of the artists in the contemporary world, there are plenty that are creating beautiful work that feeds the soul, I am merely stating my disgust on the way that everything really does come down to money. And no, I don’t think my work is that great…I’m just starting to find my own voice.)