Thurs 7th July - Tip Two
Remember to put care and attention into the craft of your work. Most contemporary [artists] put thought into a concept (be it a single piece, multiple pieces or a veritable Niagara of a project) but forget that a clever idea is one thing, making it accessible to others is something entirely different.
The painter Picasso noted “An idea is a point of departure and no more. As soon as you elaborate it, it becomes transformed by thought.” Neglecting Picasso’s code of elaboration is where a lot of [artists] slip up; they are obsessed by taking raw concepts and displaying them at their most base form. Some of these ideas may be very clever, but no more clever than an article on philosophy. Great art should not just make one think, it should make one feel, and it should make one crave reignition of that feeling until said work is revisited - like an artistic opiate addiction.
The question you face is: do you want to be great? Artistic success is rarely weighed in money, fame or accolades. It’s in the [metaphorical] durability of the product - will people still like it in one, two, three hundred years time? Yes, we won’t be alive, but surely true success lies in the immortality of a name…or an ideal?
Let’s return to my original statement of being meticulous in one’s craft. The great Leonardo da Vinci once said “Art is never finished, only abandoned”, which is true, but the important dilemma all [artists] face is when the right time to abandon it actually is. Martha Graham (the ‘Picasso of Dance’) believed “No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.” I agree with this line of thinking; perfection may be unobtainable, but the struggle through perfection’s frontier is often what sets greatness apart from mediocrity.
So, when do I personally believe is the right time to ‘abandon’ one’s work? I’ll answer this with a question: what do you want people to see in it - and think of you in three hundred years time?