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« Every Picture Tells a Story redux | Main | TV Alert »

October 01, 2002

If I Were an Editor 10

Friedrich --

Many thanks for your enlightening treatises about Shakespeare’s London and Mozart’s Vienna. The topic of money, business and art is usually taken on in such unhelpful ways: a big deal here, a betrayal there. Who cares? What I want to know is: how does this weirdo arts economy work?

If I were an editor, I’d kick off coverage by commissioning a piece on the theme of “Trust Funds and Modern Art.” In my art-history explorations, I’ve been amazed by how many of the “radical” artists of the past were independently wealthy (or managed to marry someone rich). “Independently wealthy”: what an adorably genteel way of saying “rich enough to not have to work.” And in my explorations of today’s art-and-lit worlds, I’ve been just as amazed by how many current avant-garde types have enough money not to have to work for a living.

The rest of us need to figure out some way to get by financially, which usually means either choosing to apply our talents in some business context (visually talented gal finds work as graphic designer) or by working at some job (word processor, teacher) we hope will be tolerable in order to support the art activities (painting, poetry) we care about more. If you take the first option, you wind up doing "commercial art," which isn't considered to be "real art"; if you take the second option, your art is in constant danger of becoming “just a hobby.”

It sometimes seems like (a few exceptions allowed for) only the rich get to be "real artists," doesn't it? So why do we pay attention? It's not as though they need more luck and attention than they already have.

The way family money has supported and fostered the avant-garde; avant-garde-ism as a function of the posture-striking of bohemian rich kids – yet more things they didn’t tell us about at our Lousy Ivy College.

What was the student population like, money-and-statuswise, during your time at art school?

Best,

Michael

posted by Michael at October 1, 2002




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