Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Determining Quality

I was recently invited to a discussion of art in St. Louis and the idea of quality kept recurring. This got me thinking about the role of the artist in determining quality, and so I am hoping to better formulate my views on this on my blog here.

Frankly, I don't think that the determination of quality is genuinely the role of the artist. Now I know that notion likely seems very idealistic and is probably a turnoff to many, but I strongly believe that the artist's role is primarily to create. I know that all of us censor ourselves in regards to what we do and don't show. Many artists are their own worst critics and can get wrapped up in ideas of quality all too easily. But I am personally striving to do so less and to move towards creating without questioning.

Many people have branded me one of the most creative people they know, and I firmly believe this to result from my desire not to self-censor. I have cautioned against stifling one's own creativity on my blog before. The more we question what we're doing, the more likely we are to kill our muse, to shoot down ideas before we can even fully explore and formulate them. I have even tried to start discussions about how we censor ourselves to get a better feeling for what other artists do, since I find that I don't do so near as often as most. But it is imperative that we allow ourselves to play and explore, not just as children but into adulthood, and this is not just specific to artists. When we give ourselves that freedom we come up with ideas we may have otherwise thought unfathomable.

So who do I think plays the role of determining quality, if not the artist? I believe that the art historian, buyer or critic can and will do so. The art historian determines what is acknowledged and remembered for the future, what is written about and studied. Though the artist must be able to put a price on his/her work, it is essentially the buyer who determines whether or not that price is justified by choosing whether or not to pay it. And the critic examines artworks and evaluates shows as good or bad, drawing the public to either agree or not. Why force these roles upon those making the art? And don't get me wrong, artists can also be strong art historians, buyers and critics, but I believe that it behooves them not to do so when examining their own artwork to avoid the potentially paralyzing effects of overanalysis.

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