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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Artists' Statements

Few artists enjoy writing about their work.  If the artist happens to paint somewhat, or somewhat MORE than somewhat abstractly, they've usually come to loath the very thought.  The Artist's Statement is designed to provide a basis from which an evaluative process can begin. In effect, it's designed to separate serious artists from mere poseurs. From what I've gathrered, it developed some sixty or more years ago aimed squarely at Abstract Expressionists as a means of establishing the artist's mindset, in effect, creating a platform from which the work itself can speak and as a means of judging how effective the artist has been in doing what he or she set out to do.

Consequently, it is hated most vehemently by those of the non-representational or highly abstracted style of painting. Many such people consider it sort of an essay exam of their work, and we all know how much anxiety those can create. Moreover, though there may be a great deal of complex creative intricacy in the art itself, the English language tends to fall short as compared to that of the brush. As a result, cliches and tired, phrases all too familiar to those reading such statements, tend to creep in, causing the artist to sound shallow and trite. And, of course, sometimes that can be a fairly accurate reflection. The artist's statement is thus a meter stick to check the depth of the artist as much as the work itself. Does the artist have something to say or is he or she merely "slopping paint?"

For the representational artist, it's a guage of the painter's underlying commitment in doing more than merely depicting, or decorating a canvas with a pleasing scene. Again, it's an attempt to determine if that artist has anything to say beyond what his or her art imparts. It's an attempt to seek out art, beyond mere craft.

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