This is a portion of Gregory Amenoff's letter as first published in Art on Paper in an article titled “Letters to a Young Artist,” which was in response to a letter sent to him from the writer. While at the Joslyn Art Museum last weekend, I found that Art on Paper has repackaged this wonderful article into a pocket-sized book. Very much worth the read.
. . . LET YOUR STUDIO BE YOUR SANCTUARY. Have no illusions . . . the art business, despite the pretension that surrounds “cultural products,” has more in common with other businesses than it does with art. When your work leaves the studio and moves into the world, its character changes. One doesn’t need to consult a Marxist to understand that art is a luxury commodity. You learn to live with this fact (and find ways of justifying it), but in the studio things are different. Within that space you create and take chances, destroy, and create again. If the marketplace finds its way (spiritually) into that studio you have abdicated your essential power. Keep your studio clear from concerns of the marketplace. You might have to dance with the wolves but you can still keep them near the door.
(Thanks, Mel Ristau, for telling me about the original article two years ago. I’ve been saving that issue of Art on Paper ever since.)