OK, so I claim to be an artis for sure and a riter too.I propose that Grayson Perry is a craftsman rather than an artist and Damien Hirst is neither artis nor crafsman, more a factory foreman.Both are part of the Establishment & the Artworld, I am part of neither luckily despite my 40 odd years tryoing to be ‘recognized’ accepted and allowed in. Of course a big part of becoming an ‘established artis’ is being offered money and exposure, invited (in) to exhibit or comment or contribute to the ‘canon’.Obviously Hirst & Perry are ‘well in’ despite their being opposite ends of a spectrum of methodologies. Grayson cannot draw for toffee and i wouldn’t be surprised if Hirst uses toffee in one of his mass cabinet displays of stuff created for him by a factory of assistants. I’m not being catty nor bitchy, just observing from the outside. And as Perry observed in the Radio Times the validators are ” peers, teachers, dealers, critics, curators and gallery visitors” ( a motley crew). This despite him observing that, ” people who write about art are often communicating only with each other…”
Whereas GP’s curatorship at British Museum was a breath of fresh air, Hirst at Tate was like sticking yer nose in a sewer. I say that not because of his sometimes foul subject matter and mouth, I sometimes deal with not so pretty stuff, but i do believe that subjects like death are to be treated with more dignity than his conversations on video about victims of car accidents.Perry’s room full of massive tapestries may have been labour for the practitioners what made them but his drawings for me are inadequate or at least idiosyncratic. Hirst’s drawings were not apparent to me from the Tatemark shows but his wide use of technologies and the elements of shock and distaste are evident(ly his stocking trade).
Of course nowadays you don’t need to be able to draw to be considered an artist. I won’t even bother to mention the present Professor of drawing at Royal Academy. The way you make your artist statement was apparently blown asunder by Duchamp (not Picasso as he was a traditionalist in methodologies). Max Ernst had some truly revolutionary outputs, particularly his sinister seminal collage work and his private alphabet, yet he continued to make some great paintings despite declaring that painting was dead.
So, where does that leave me? Penniless and out in the cold as always where my art is concerned. My art budget perpetually in the red for 40 plus years, supplemented by a teacher’s salary. I no longer hanker to be accepted , ironically my lack of acknowledgement by the various fields and absence of remuneration has left me or led me to be Free. To Be my Self, like a solitary bee, alone again of course. And I am far too old to be bothered about being accepted as a player. i prefer to remain with my brothers (and sisters) in the arts; William Blake, Vincent Van Gogh, B S Johnson and Eva Hesse. The only difference being they did more and better and had more talent … Oh shut it Pete, while you can!
2 thoughts on “on being an artist, or Not”
Keep angry Pete, it fires your creativity.
Your thoughts remind me of the classic book, ‘The Painted Word’ that Tom Wolfe wrote in 1975, in which he criticised the art establishment.
Wikipedia has a good summary of it:
‘Wolfe’s thesis in The Painted Word was that by the 1970s modern art had moved away from being a visual experience, and more often was an illustration of art critics’ theories.
The main target of Wolfe’s book, however, was the critics. In particular, Wolfe criticized three prominent art critics whom he dubbed the kings of “Cultureburg”. Wolfe argued that these three men were dominating the world of art with their theories and that, unlike the world of literature in which anyone can buy a book, the art world was controlled by an insular circle of rich collectors, museums and critics with out-sized influence.
Wolfe provides his own history of what he sees as the devolution to modern art. He summarized that history: “In the beginning we got rid of nineteenth-century storybook realism. Then we got rid of representational objects. Then we got rid of the third dimension altogether and got really flat (Abstract Expressionism). Then we got rid of airiness, brushstrokes, most of the paint, and the last viruses of drawing and complicated designs”. After providing examples of other techniques and the schools that abandoned them, Wolfe concluded with conceptual art: “…there, at last, it was! No more realism, no more representation objects, no more lines, colors, forms, and contours, no more pigments, no more brushstrokes. …Art made its final flight, climbed higher and higher in an ever-decreasing tighter-turning spiral until… it disappeared up its own fundamental aperture… and came out the other side as Art Theory!… Art Theory pure and simple, words on a page, literature undefiled by vision… late twentieth-century Modern Art was about to fulfill its destiny, which was: to become nothing less than Literature pure and simple”.’