Who’s an Artist?

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“I never said I was a genius.”  Orson Welles  (from Brainyquote)

Is there a set of characteristics that must be possessed in order to be worthy of being called an artist?  Many people are hesitant to call themselves artists even though they are actively engaged in creating some form of art.  When asked, a person might say, “I’m a painter,” but not say, “I am an artist.”  Or there are writers who claim to be writers but not artists.  And how about the photographers?  When was the last time one of them said, “I am an artist?”  It may all be tied into the actual definition of the word, “artist.”

New research suggests a large number of people engaged in artistic endeavors as a career do not call themselves artists.  Tom Jacobs, writing for the Pacific Standard, examines the subject.  Jacobs outlines recent research done by Columbia and Rutgers University researchers revealing how many people doing artistic work don’t associate themselves with being an artist.  Jacobs concludes with a quote from the movie Bullets Over Broadway, in a statement from the actor, confusing being an artist with being a genius.  Is it possible this confusion is at home in the minds of people in general?

The confusion may originate in the actual dictionary definition of an artist.  Dictionary.com defines an artist as: (a) a person who produces works in any of the arts that are subject to aesthetic criteria and (b) as a person of exceptional skill.  Its no wonder people are confused. It could be that many artists don’t wish to appear to be claiming to be a genius.  The title of “artist” may be reserved for when the nebulous pinnacle is reached, whenever that may be.  Or to many, being called an “artist” may not be important, at all.

Perhaps the geniuses can sort this one out.  The rest are too busy making art

Envisioning Leadership

“Leaders establish the vision for the future and set the strategy for getting there,” John P. Kotter (The Painter’s Keys)

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Where is the next great art movement?  Are artists today struggling through a crisis of ideas or is it art in general?  Are artists mimicking other artists or variations of other movements?  Is painting dead, replaced by the computer generation?  Or perhaps the answer is something entirely different



There are artists who are doing new and exciting things yet are not getting traction in a wider market.  The answer may be less a question for artists as one for the general public.  The lack of interest in original art is widespread and likely more indicative of societal issues than artistic ones.
The blog, Art Moscow, asks, “Where are all the geniuses?”  I am not convinced it is geniuses we need.  They are out there.  The issue, to me, seems to be a lack of leadership.   There are no driving forces in art today, no cohesion.  What is lacking is an Alfred Stieglitz to organize and promote the latest art, someone who can bring together the geniuses and show them to the world.  Rather than artistic geniuses, it is promotional and leadership geniuses that are needed.