Monday, May 10, 2010

What Makes A "Great Artist of Our Time?"

Saturday I was at the Orange County Museum of Art's Art of Dining event. Sidney Felsen was honored for his work as the co-founder of Gemini G.E.L in Los Angeles. In his introduction they said he had worked with "some of the great artists of our time." Which got me thinking - What defines an artist as great for our time?

I'm sure if you asked 10 different people you would get 10 different answers. I think the short answer for me is, intention, marketability, longevity and ingenuity & consistency in execution.

First off intention, because if an artist does not have the ability to create an intention with their art, it's very unlikely that their art would elicit an emotional response from the viewer.

Second, being an artist, and meeting so many talented people, I know there are some incredible artists out there, that the world-at-large has never heard of. And so - while some artists I know are far more talented than others getting accolades or fabulous world press, the "great artists of our time" must by definition be those "our time" has heard of. Therefore, in this day and age, they need to be good marketers, or have someone who is a great marketer behind them.

Thirdly, I also think longevity - artists who are artists until the day they die. Someone who's work we can see grow and change and yet still in some ways remain constant throughout their lifetime. (ex. Alexander Calder)

And fourth, artists who either have their finger on popular culture (ex. Warhol) or do something before everyone else, or better than everyone else (ex. Pollock).

I realize nowhere on my list did I say technical abilities. I think this is because in order for art to speak to people it needs to go well beyond simple technical execution, and be able to emote some sort of emotional response when being viewed by the viewer.

What do you think?

For an answer to another esoteric question, see What Is An Artist?

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