Artist's Temperament

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Posted by pancho from ( on Tuesday, March 26, 2002 at 11:39PM :

Does the artist produce what he or she must, or is it in order to get paid? A little of both, but mostly the former. It stands to reason you would do your best at something you cared very much about, as it also stands to reason that, caring so much, you would not welcome intruders or spoilers easily.

If you are not satisfied with the way an artist is painting your portrait, fire him or her. Do not attempt to "guide" or steer the person to do it as you you think it might look better.

I finally stood back and let Robert Mondavi's wife model his lips on the portrait he was sitting for. She ruined the job, and I didn't want to see either of them again.

We have an extremely barbaric, unenlightened and sophomoric view of Art and the artist. We tend to think that artists don't really work, because they do what they "want" to do...while the rest of us do what we have to do. We assume therefore that the artist's life is an endless parade of hot coffee, hot models and cool wine...with a few odds and ends no one really understands to show for it...that and expecting way too much money..."too much" meaning whatever the price is.

Since we expect to get "value" for our hard earned bucks, we want to be able to tell the mechanic and the dentist and the grocer exactly what we expect, though we are a bit hesitant with them because they too are doing what they "have" to. A part of us resents the casual way we think the artist approaches life...not seeming to worry much about the things that plague us, like retirement, health care, dentist bills, insurance etc.

Since he or she seeme to us to be so foolish and improvident, we resent having to pay him at all, and certainly not THAT much. No matter how good the deal, we always feel taken advantage of. The Jackster probably still thinks she overpaid for a piece appraised at three times the value, almost, of what she paid.

Since we have precious litle understanding, some envy and a whole lot of resentment against the artist and his flakey way of life to begin with, we feel all the more justified in demanding he or she prove the value of their work and especially, defer to us and our judgement...even though we hate the very idea of the artist and his life and work.

That's why Atour Golani, The Pygmy of Assyria, just HAD to have my sculptures welded for was a way of expressing both his envy and his distaste for Art in general and my way of working specifically. He welded the figure of Hammurabi onto his throne becasue he said people would not like to see the "hollow" back of the king as they placed him on or took him off of the throne. Welded together they wouldn't see his hollow back, or bottom.

It did me no good to point out to him that ANY sculpture you look at from the bottom ...will be hollow...that you aren't supposed to view sculptures when they are turned upside down or lying on their sides...that once the king was placed on the throne you wouldn't know if he was welded there or not.

We seem to have a deep seated peasant's resentment of anyone who doesn't work as "hard" as we do...or isn't clever enough to make a fine living off of the sweat of our brows...reserving our real dislike for that breed of man or woman who appears to renounce all we hold dear...the material security we strive to achieve at all the artist strives for freedom of expression and the means to do it with, also at all costs. Our own goal seems more valid more real just because we secretly hate the process, distressed to see, that for all its hardships, the artist is at least fulfilling a small part of his or her nature...something we have been forced to squelch in order to "get ahead" or rather barely maintain.

It's a real conflict that only education(NOT college) and a certain degree of refinement can ameliorate. Our added difficulty in this regard is that we mistake what you can buy, with who you are. You can see that to the Jackster, material wealth is everything...her money has saved her from anonymity and a well deserved mediocrity...Lincoln even told her it was the only reason any of her "friends" put up with her, and you could tell by her reaction that she knows it's true and that it annoys her no end.

She made the mistake of thinking the rest of us are put together the same way, and while many are...not all are. It was a shock to her to see that I would risk her displeasure as she had bought "so much" from me...surely she could do as she pleased, having bought me as she has most of her friends. What was I, a poor and lowly artist, begging at her door for handouts, doing telling her to fuck off? The entire foundation of her Rolex and Rover world fell apart. Her was someone who by all rights should have been most eager to remain in a favorable position to her, in order to get the money she so cherishes and needs to dress her poverty of spirit in, and I was telling her to go scratch?

Could it be that her money was really not the force she thought it was? Would her cars and watches not pave EVERY path for her? This was big stuff for the Jackster...that and the fact that I never grabbed that arse...has made her come unhinged where I am a mutual friend told me during a two hour meeting to discuss the possibility of his intervening to help settle this thing.

It isn't is business. These leeders from hell are not working for the Heritage, for you and I or the refugess or the children or the martyrs and murder victims. They are using us to serve their own needs, and it wouldn't be so bad if they bothered to benefit us in the process. But as I at least realized with the case of the Shumirum and Nimrod and Bejan...they will kill a thing if they can't use it for their own glory.

Since I never worked for money...there isn't a thing they can offer me, or scare me with. You have to be willing to pay a price for this kind of freedom...but GOD it feels good!

-- pancho
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