Art vs. Artists < Deep Thought Thursday

Is it possible to separate the art from the artist?
Should strong art stand on its own?
Are our opinions colored by knowing who the artist is and the background of the artist?

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17 thoughts on “Art vs. Artists < Deep Thought Thursday”

  1. I think art should definitely stand on it’s own but we constantly form opinons on everything around us so knowing who the artist is and they’re background is sure to influence us. We may not want it to but it’s a part of who we are.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      And now we know more about people than we ever did in the past! Almost anyone can be Googled.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Good point, Gwenn. I like the way you phrased it.
      When studying art history, you learn about historians who write about art based almost entirely on the artists’ backgrounds, environments, and local politics. And then there are historians who ignore it all completely.
      Maybe it applies to some artists more than others.

  2. I was just thinking about this while watching Work of Art last night! (Plus there was an article on Fine Art Views about jerky artists) Whether for good or bad, I think that that who an artist is as a person does affect how we see their art. This goes for writers, musicians, and movie directors as well. Sometimes I’d rather not know anything about a writer so that my view of their work isn’t tainted.
    This is mostly a problem when people are rude, degrading, or generally just jerks. When people are nice, interesting, and friendly it can work in their favor. I’d like to be able to just enjoy a work of art, listen to music, read a book, or watch a movie without having this outside influence, but the fact is, it’s there.
    (And yes, I have stopped reading books, watching movies, and listening to music by certain people because of things they’ve done that totally turned me off. No more Lethal Weapon for me)

  3. “Strong Art should stand on its own.”
    Sounds nice initially. But stand where? The truth, especially with art, is that it bridges and relates to our entire world. Artists can and should provide an accessable context for their art.
    Case in point, a fellow artist and printmaker is doing a series of key images.
    My reaction visually to them was ho-hum, so I asked him, “Why this?”. He told me that after helping to clean out the homes of friends and family who’d died, he always finds jars or drawers full of keys. Keys that once locked and protected something precious or valueable. Who knows what and where those posessions are, but no one seems to be able to get rid of the keys, even in this throw away culture. By the end, he was almost in tears, and I’ll never see a key in quite the same way.
    That’s what context provides, an entry into the mind of the artist. Forget the “artist statement gobbledegook.” I think our best art either moves us to tears or laughter. That’s a very human thing to speak to another person about……

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Great story, Patrick. I think the best art helps us see our place in the world with new eyes.

  4. Strong art should stand on its own but you can never really separate the art from the artist. I think our preference for the art itself is often colored by the narrative of its creator and the myth of that particular artist. I believe that a testament of strength for any particular work of art is if it is relevant and good when separated from the narrative and mythology of its creator. There are time, however, where I believe the artist is the ultimate art and not the objects.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      But how to you separate it from the myth/narrative of the creator? Especially when information gushes so freely today?

  5. Take Dali as the archetypical case in point- Last of the Renaissance Masters- (IMO) and first and foremost of modern era artist-showmen-
    The most prominent and dedicated artists appear to turn everything they do into Art- even living itself- They seem like forces of nature-
    Picasso- in his era- was God and he knew it-
    There is no ‘should’ about good Art standing on it’s own- It does- as with antiquities of Greek sculpture with their forgotten creators-
    But in our media saturated times personality is an Art medium- reflected in the way modern era artists such as Joseph Beuys redefined boundaries between art and life-
    The always existing desire for knowledge ensures art and artist will be linked- especially where their Art is strong enough to stand alone-
    Historically the creator is important- In literature- the greatest of all- Shakespeare remains an obscure figure in terms of who he actually was- Even in historical vagueness he is a dominant figure- known by his words- as an artist is by his creations- as Shakespeare the man is to literature- so a great aritst is to Art-
    Therefore- there is much to gain in stuyding the greats- and same applies in any field- for academic and practical knowledge-

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Keith: You’re right about the ancient art of Greece. However, I would argue that if we found out X sculpture was done by “The Master of Y” that we would suddenly value it more.

    2. Brilliant Alyson- Much work of ancient Greek masters no longer exists but their reputations remain legendary- Therefore some key Artists ARE seperated from the Art- Their reputations stand alone in the absence of their actual work- so discussion is academic- Many works survive only as copies by later Romans- but this raises a different set of issues-
      Greek works of the first order must be priceless as integral parts of major institutions like The Vatican Museum- If the origin of work of unknown provenance could be newly attributed to Phidias or Polykleitos- it might be a Holy Grail achievement in the study of antiquity- Vastly increasing insurance costs- Though the likelihood of such things coming onto the open market is something we can only guess at-

  6. In a perfect world, art would stand on it’s own. The artist as a brand has taken over, and people line up to see a show because the artist is famous, not necessarily because they like or understand the work. The value placed on art has a huge impact as well – if a painting is worth a million dollars, then it must be great art, right? Who is putting that value on the art – the dealer? The auction house? The public is swayed by large dollar amounts, dramatic life circumstances and fame.

    1. to Carolyn- Dali understood the best Artists have always been brands- throughout history- He remains immensely popular by merit- and is underrated by the establishment- History will redress this oversight- Only History sorts out the rankings of great and lesser- Value is dictated by the buyer- the privilege of wealth- The public is a generalised entity with vulgar tastes- they never understand the finer things- Price is one thing they do understand- A contentious view- we all have our own tastes- But Art is no democracy- it’s a monarchy of sorts- And- in most cases High price reflects unbeatable investment value- Prices increase manifold in a short period- Probably there is no greater investment- Nobody knows this better than Russian super-rich- They’re not daft- I’m making no moral judgement- it’s just one view I can take among many

    2. Alyson Stanfield

      Carolyn: In truth, art is worth what someone will pay for it. People don’t just pay $millions because of a price tag. There’s a history and a build up to that amount–traditionally.

  7. kathleen Nathan

    I believe the the art work should stand on its own. If the work is strong and honest, it should be recieved and appreciated by the viewer. In contemporary art the critic can make you or break you as an artist. The critic should not have such power and the viewer should trust the personal responses first , and not rely on what the critics say.
    Personally, I feel that there is a lot of crap in the contemporary art world because of critics opions that are swayed by paycheckes from publications that are swayerd by receiving renenues from advertisements.
    Does the fable, ” The Emperor’s New Clothes” ring a bell?

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