Anita Shapolsky gallery last month hosted a very eclectic exhibition titled ‘Writers who paint’. Among others, it had under its purview artworks by accomplished writers like Jonatham Lethem, Jack Kerouac, W. B. Yeats and Aldous Huxley. I thought the idea was a very cool one, firstly, you had insight into their minds through their writing and now you could explore their paintings, drawings and other objects of their visual imagination through the lens of the individual’s written words. It is precisely for this reason that I think that the artist blogs are a new form of a self-portrait that an artist can develop temporally…
Of course, some of the few art blogs that seemed to cover this event seemed to think otherwise. The comments were very telling of the age of specialization we live in and what happens if we transgress even a little bit from our supposed spheres of expertise.
“Writers should stick to their areas of competence”
“Writers doing art results in art that is just not good”
“More bad art strung together upon a theme”
“Cult of the celebrity in overdrive”
“While you can accidentally take a good photograph, it takes years to become a good photographer”
While I think that the wisdom of the online crowds is a marker for the current times, reading some of these comments gives one a view that unless one is specialized in the arts (like an art degree or is a full time artist), there is a danger of their art being perceived as inferior to full time artist. What happened to the age of renaissance men and women who could dabble in multiple fields and excel at many of them? Are the lanes leading that great town called Specialization getting so narrow that only people with the right calling cards and pedigree are offered entry at the appropriate tavern houses along the way?
I am most interested in your comments.
Weldon Kees, ‘After Hours’, Oil on canvas, 33″ x 43″