Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Art Scene

A few years ago when I interviewed comedian Jonathan Winters about his art, he said that the one thing he liked about making paintings that he did not like in Hollywood was that he made all the decisions. When you work in Hollywood, someone else has the power to leave your favorite stuff on the cutting room floor.

Nevertheless, our art careers are still not entirely in our own hands. If we wish to show our work, we need venues. As we emerge from the creative realm to the business realm we find there are a whole host of players, from museum curators to gallery managers to collectors to media. Each of these, and that small collection of supporters who keep you going, are a somewhat necessary part of your success if you plan to go beyond making pictures for yourself to making a career of it.

One source that I have recently found stimulating is the ArtDaily Newsletter, which arrives in my inbox each morning between midnight and dawn. The ArtDaily covers the high end of the international art scene, with its Sotheby's and Christie's art auction items that seem so removed from most of us, while simultaneously giving us a good sense of where art history has travelled and how works are valued in today's art culture.

Today ArtDaily opens with a story about a Ruben's piece offered by Princess Di for sale at Christie's for $30 million dollars. (Once you've seen a Rubens you understand why it is worth millions today.) There are stories about art exhibitions featuring George Leslie Hunter, Malcolm Morley, Ric Ocasek and other career artists whose names are most likely unknown outside the art world, for how many Picasso's or Dali's reach the masses in any generation?

One story features French artist Yves Klein, calling him one of the 20th century's "most influential artists," yet if I ask 100 people today who he was, I would be the only one who knew without being told that he was a French artist of a half century ago. I was surprised to read that he had such a short career, 1954-1962. What interests me more than his work is the story behind the story. What was it that made him so influential? Who decided that his work was significiant. When you see the work yourself, what do you think?

In the meantime, I think the ArtDaily is a good read, a source for ideas and a thumb on the pulse of what's happening outside the four walls of your studio, if you are an artist with even minimal aspirations. Check it out and subscribe today.

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