Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Does Art Suffer Because the Artist Does Not?

Dark Night of the Soul, Tracy DiTolla
Remember the days of the starving artist?  I mean the really starving artists.  It was not that long ago but it seems to be a rapidly fading concept.  It is such a romantic notion - the artist living in poverty by choice because nothing on earth was more important than focusing on the art.  It was a higher calling, a noble path - the art must come first, even before the artist's own well-being.  The artist should toil endlessly at his canvas without nourishment or sleep because it was the art that was sustaining him.  The art was feeding his soul and driving him with a passion that could not be stopped by anything.  Any meager amount of money made was to go to paint and canvas, there was nothing else. 
Think Toulouse Lautrec, Jackson Pollock, Van Gogh, Modigliani, much of most of their lives were spent in poverty and they seemed to live only for their art.  Today that does not really happen, at least no one I know is living that way.  Most artists have “day jobs” that often have nothing to do with art.  There is no longer that high awe-inspiring respect for an artist who abandons everything and spends all of his time creating and exploring different visual theories - if you do that now most people will think you’re crazy and a loser.  This is not necessarily a bad thing; I’m pretty sure most of us do not want starving artists dressed in rags begging for food, oil paint and conte crayons on the street.  But how does the lack of time an artist gets to focus on his/her art reflect in the artwork produced today. 

I Can't do This Anymore, Tracy DiTolla

Look at the Impressionists, Dada, the Futurists, the Abstract Expressionists, this list goes on – would those movements have come about and changed the world of art if those artists came home from their day jobs, made dinner for their kids and then after cleaning, doing bills, being distracted by RHONJ and getting everyone settled into bed then start working on their art?  Artists are not getting any existential suffering in and that is leaving us with art that often lacks substance.  I’m in no way saying that artists should abandon their responsibilities to focus on their art, I’m saying it is too bad that art does not seem to be as respected and as important to people as it once was by society as a whole.  And I am looking at a lot of the artwork around today (not all of it, there is still great art out there ;)) 
and some of it really falls short and I think it is because of the general loss of the importance of the artist’s vision.  

The 11th Hour, Tracy DiTolla

P.S. Sorry for the shameless self-promotion.