Hennessy Youngman has become one of my favorite commentators on the art world at large.
Filed under Art, Humor
Tagged as Damien Hirst, Hennessy Youngman
I love this and it hits on something I think is totally worthy of discussion– Is an artist still an artist if he’s not the one touching the work? Is the idea art? If it does make a difference, what is the difference between an artist and a craftsman or between an artist and clever delegator? I know it’s not untrod upon territory, but I think it makes for good musings. Though I doubt my musings would be as funny as Hennessy.
As you probably know, I hesitate to call Damien Hirst or Mr. Brainwash artists because I don’t think they really get their hands dirty. But the same could be said of Warhol and Dali…or even Thomas Kinkade. Even the old renaissance masters had stables of artists who produced work for the person who got to put their name on it. Maybe it’s a lame idea, but it’s got me thinking.
For my own artwork, I prefer to be the one who creates the work from start to finish simply because the way I draw lines is an integral part of the subject matter of the work. But for other artists, I have no problem whatsoever with the fact that they use teams of assistants or fabricators to help create things they wouldn’t have been able to achieve on their own. It is still the artist who is coming up with the idea, the design and is supervising the entire process. After all, are architects any less deserving of respect because they aren’t the ones building the structure themselves?
For me, the evidence of my hand in the composition is a big part of the idea, but I also think that artists should use any tools available to help streamline the process. So for instance, in my sculpture, the individual plastic pieces are drawn in photoshop using a stylus and then saved so that I can print them onto the plastic sheets whenever I need them instead of having to hand draw each and every piece. In my case, it turns out that the ink jet printer does a far cleaner job of getting the images onto clear plastic than my pen and paint could ever do in the first place.
Is that cheating? Well, it depends on your opinion of what cheating in art is. Is it cheating to take advantage of new technology or someone who has mastery of a type of technology that allows you to better achieve your idea? The printing press was once new technology, oil paint in tubes was a new technology that allowed the impressionists to actually paint outdoors and not have to grind their own pigment and mix it with oil every time they wanted to paint.
So I think visual art can be boiled down to using any and every tool at your disposal to achieve a desired visual result. And it is possible to think of a studio assistant or a fabricator as a tool to achieve a desired result just like an architect works with engineers, crane operators and brick layers. With that said, I think it’s pretty obvious that I believe there is no such thing as cheating when it comes to art.
But I totally agree that Damien Hirst’s work and personality has become increasingly over-the-top and ostentatious as time goes by… Especially that skull… It’s just annoying… And artists such as myself, who are just trying to scrape together an honest living, don’t appreciate assholes like that feeding the media fire to a general public who already thinks artists are pretentious out-of-touch jackasses.
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