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Thursday, 09 April 2015


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Hard to take seriously a book that advises a sculptor not make a sculpture larger than their studio door.

This book makes me think of the article a number of weeks ago concerning survivorship bias. I wonder whether someone should be writing a book on people like some of us who went to art school, but went down other career paths?

I'm holding out for Success as an Artist for Dummies myself.

"Don’t make a sculpture bigger than your studio door."

Awilda by Jaume Plensa, Millennium Park, Chicago (temporary installation 2014-2015)

Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoor, Millennium Park, Chicago

Agora by Magdalena Abakanowicz, Chicago

I've not seen this book. It may very well offer good nuggets of advice to aspiring artists. But I'm very skeptical. Knowing some very renowned contemporary artists I could only say that determined persistence and strong academic/exhibition connections were the only two common success traits among them. They each got some big break-out break but only because they pursued it. (i.e. Luck favors the prepared and persistent.)

And in contemporary art today size is very important. The bigger the better. If your door's too small rent an airplane hanger! Better yet, start a factory to make your art! (It's excellent for tax accounting.)

What is success?

How about "Stop making ART...start making MONEY". Now that's a T-shirt !

Ben Shahn wrote a wonderful book titled "The Shape of Content", in which he devoted 45 of 131 pages to the education of an artist. The most difficult advice for me to follow was to learn a foreign language, or two or three. Though the first edition was published in 1957, the words of a sage are always relevant. Highly recommended.
P.S. There are interesting stories about when Ben Shahn and Walker Evans shared studio space. If they could be authenticated, I'd pass them on.

IMO, the best book ever - The Art Spirit, by the American artist Robert Henri. - published in 1923. Since reading this book, I have encountered nothing better on the subject published before or after.

Some quotes from the book are here - https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/112030.Robert_Henri

Seems like just another cookbook, albeit one by Phaidon.

My t-shirt? "Art Without Commerce is a Hobby"

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