I've been thinking about integrity. In the art world, there are so many grey areas. It's a creative field, much work is influenced by other work, some argue that all work is derivative.
And, there are those that believe the idea is the creative process, and the physical work can be the work of a laborer. For example, there are "artists", although I really believe they're businessmen disguised as artists, who have hired craftsmen to conceptualize their ideas, from start to finish. They do none of the actual craft.
It's a tough question to ask -- especially for a gallery owner when choosing artists for the gallery. All of the artists Muse now represents do their own work. But we have in the past had reason to ask those same questions, to debate the legitimacy of an artist whose work is their idea, but not their work.
Let's take an example like Russell Whiting. Here is a man who works in the heaviest of all materials, who creates these huge installation pieces that are sometimes 20' tall, and whose smaller ones (6' tall) can sometimes weigh over 300 pounds. He will use an assistant for the largest pieces, especially the final construction and delivery, etc.; but up until that point, Russell is rigorously and laborously carving his creations with an acetylene torch and grinders. To the point of exhaustion. I don't know if many people realize the extent of physical exhaustion that much come with such pieces.
So maybe that's more obvious -- let's talk about painters. Although many will have somebody else "prep" their canvasses (build, gesso, etc.), from start to finish it is (with my artists) their creation. There are, surprisingly, artists who have others even paint for them. Granted, it is vigorous work, the constant arm movement, the moving of large canvases or boards around the studio, the final prep. It's no different than a painter or construction worker -- that constant physicality.
It's just an interesting point to ponder, as the artists we carry become more and more prestigious, their work constantly in demand, and our gallery (as I'm sure many others) are competing to get the pieces. As a collector, it's important to be aware of the actual physical work that goes into every single piece of art. Yes, it's creative, and it's wonderful and airy and spiritual, but it's also difficult emotionally and physically to finalize a piece of work from start to finish.
Posted on Mon, March 30, 2015
by Caren Petersen filed under