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Artists Who Don’t “Make” Their Own Work

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Artists Who Don’t “Make” Their Own Work

Postby Phil_B » Tue Feb 19, 2013 7:57 am

made a visit to the Tate Modern in London this morning(on lunch now). i'm not sure what i had for breakfast this morning as i usually avoid this gallery like the plague(my coffee must have been spiked). in the tate modern it's full of contemporary work and usually a gallery that you have to pay to enter like Klimt or Dali.

so i'm entering this gallery with medium expectations, not sure what to expect, even though i had sat in lectures on contemporary art in art history at college(i'm sure i fell asleep in those lectures as i hardly remember any of it). i walk past tracey emin's work of "her bedroom" and immediately thought oh look my bedroom is in the middle of an art gallery. i got the concept and looked at her other work and lets just say it never really made me look at it for more than 2 minutes, not what i call a "great" piece of work. next up was a Jackson Pollock painting. incredible, it was huge, looked shiny and colourful, great abstract work and must have put a ton of effort into it. 5 stars.

not bad so far. next up was a Damien Hirst piece. i looked at some animal cut in half, i can see that Hirst's aim was to draw a reaction from the viewer. it always works as it's very grotesque and uncomfortable to look at, the kind of reaction i'm guessing that Hirst wanted. i had a lecture about Hirst before and in this lecture it was said that Hirst was merely just a man with ideas and got a team of talented workers together and they did it for him. now this made my blood boil, thinking all he has done, is come up with an idea, people do his work for him then he takes all the glory, he is merely just the director yet has the audacity to call himself an Artist. you never see a film director take all the glory for his film, hence the massive list of credits at the end of a film. you never see a musician take all the glory hence why the producers/writers/sessionists are credited in the album cover. so why doesn't Mr Hirst credit his team for making his work happen? without them he would be nothing but a man with ideas, which everybody has. after this i turned around and walked out the gallery, promising myself never to return again.

after i left and got some fresh air, this got me thinking a bit clearer. It’s not uncommon for artists to have assistants or employ experienced craftsmen to help with the production of their work. Sometimes, that’s the only way to bring their ideas to life. Sometimes, that process is part of the art’s conceit. Sometimes, they just want the money without doing much of anything. Da Vinci had assistants, Rubens had assistants. Warhol had a factory(never like his work anyway as i found derivative) and Christo never wrapped giant fabric around trees. so this poses the question should Artists credit others for being involved in their work and say it is a collaboration? is Damien Hirst just a clever con man like Mark Kostabi?
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Re: Artists Who Don’t “Make” Their Own Work

Postby ehoeveler » Tue Feb 19, 2013 2:43 pm

Phil, I enjoyed your perspective of the Tate - very amusing.
It's hard for me to 'wrap' my mind around large-scale art like Christo's
but I think it's like say, a fashion designer who employs a sewing team
to turn out his/her designs. With Damien Hirst, he's obviously not a jeweler
but look at that marvelous diamond skull he dreamed up! E
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Re: Artists Who Don’t “Make” Their Own Work

Postby Phil_B » Tue Feb 19, 2013 3:55 pm

well i guess you could put Andy Warhol in that category as his work was mass produced by hired artists, although, Warhol has skill in screen printing and he can draw and paint very well anyway, despite not liking his work. i'll always give Warhol kudos for what he does, he produces the original then gets workers to mass produce it but change it slightly like a different colour and during that process the assistants learn something from it. Christo is a difficult one, but what i do admire is that he doesn't do it for money, every penny spent on that wrapping project was from his own back pocket. that Diamond skull is great but i'm not going to give him credit for it. i'm going to give credit for the unknown jeweller who crafted it.

when i aspired to be an artist it was to be the man with the idea, the man with the skills, the man with the heart all rolled into one. your idea created by you and only you. a lot of work in the gallery seemed to be the opposite, just the idea, nothing else. when i studied art at school i was taught both, to create the idea AND the skills to do the idea. if i didn't get the idea across the way i wanted it to or it didn't look great physically, then I'd do it again, practice and work as hard as i can. i find it an insult to skilled artworkers and appalling that someone can make millions of pounds at the expense of a team of artists and then pass it off as his own piece of work.
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Re: Artists Who Don’t “Make” Their Own Work

Postby ehoeveler » Tue Feb 19, 2013 4:08 pm

I certainly understand your point of view. Very well put. E
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Re: Artists Who Don’t “Make” Their Own Work

Postby C.nick » Wed Apr 10, 2013 7:13 am

Having ideas is a great start, but without the know-how to bring a representation into the world it falls short of art. For example, children have great imaginative ideas, I know I did, but my stick figures or blobby heads do not great art make. If someone makes drawings of a concept and another person creates them then I tend to view it as a collaboration. But that calls into question artists that are commissioned to create works of art specified in great detail by a client. Is the person with the skill/talent the artist? As it’s usually viewed in the case of commissions and cases like singers? Or is it the one with the ideas, in the case of commissions, the client?

I would think that varying degrees of involvement change who is the artist and who is not. For example, I don’t know the first thing about sculpting, but I have an idea for a sculpture. There are a few ways I could go about this. First, I could learn to sculpt and the sculpture would be fully mine and no one else’s, but that would take years and I’m impatient. Secondly, I could find someone who can sculpt and give them my multiple sketches, ideas, inspirations, and feelings that I want to convey through the sculpture, then the person takes them and makes a sculpture whilst I guide them in how to make it convey what I want it to, only listening to them when they tell me my ideas are not physically possible. Thirdly, I could just throw my idea at the sculptor and they create it. Fourthly, I could express my intent and show them my sketches, they could tell me their thoughts, share their expertise, and a sculpture would be made. Now the first would obviously be my sculpture. The second, since the sculptor gave away their autonomy, I would think of it almost like they were a medium that I created my sculpture through. But let’s face it, how often would I find someone who wouldn’t have their own opinion and interpretation? In the third the sculpture would be the sculptor’s. And in the fourth it would be a collaboration. But it does seem like the answer depends on society’s preconditioning. In music it’s not at all uncommon to call singers artists, even if they don’t write their own songs, but with visual art and architecture it’s reversed and it’s common to call the person with the idea the artist.

Personally if I had anyone create something for my art, no matter how small, then I would give attribution to them, I wouldn’t feel comfortable otherwise. I think it would be good thing if artists listed credits where they were relevant. I know I'm a little late for this thread but I got me thinking a great deal about the subject. Thank you! :)
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