Artists produced their art and someone else looked after publicity, exhibitions, and putting together bios as well as marketing. Usually a number of people. Then there were art critics who wrote about their work and established its validity in the marketplace.
Now art needs not be technically accurate, say anything at all or evoke any kind of emotional response. So who decides what is good art?
Some say it is the unwashed masses who want to buy your work…
So do artists need to appeal to their sensibilities…? No, they just have to be good salesmen.
Artists are no longer just mandated with producing art but also have to be publicity star, networking schmoozers, write glowingly about themselves, pay for exhibiting their work and find venues to exhibit and above all, be great salesmen.
Selling is an art form in itself and good used car salesmen will tell you, you have to be born with the right gene. Actors are probably the closest that come to having such a gene.
Actors are by nature extraverted, whereas visual artists are mostly introverts. A good salesman needs to be extraverted, charismatic and know how to charm and convince people. Most visual artists I know don’t even want to schmooze at their own shows and generally are shy and would much prefer being alone. Otherwise they would have chosen to be actors.
So thus we have a bind, where visual artists are expected to be all and everything, and in the end develop split personalities or simply give up focus on their art and become great salesmen.
Those are the artists that sell well and what they produce matters very little. And if they thought about it for a while they would have used their selling skills in a car lot for a hell of a lot more money than they are probably getting now for their art.
But there is always a subtle urge to be famous that comes with artistic endeavours, even though we know the possibility is one in a billion but then we remember Van Gogh who sold nothing in his lifetime.
The problem for us now however is the small matter of how we spend our time producing art. Van Gogh had a brother who supported him and he didn’t have to do anything else except paint and observe nature and life. We however don’t have that luxury needing to make a living and interact with the market place. This takes more time than actually art-working.
The industrial age effectively killed great art and is now producing great used car salesmen.