When Artists Create For Money, Is It Still Art? An Example

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Should artists focus on money or art? It is a question that has been asked for centuries, and debated by artists and philosophers alike. It is a question I have asked myself countless times.

And today, I am happy to announce that the debate is over.

Artists can choose to focus on money, and still create good art.

There are many examples of successful artists who have made this transition. Some of the most notable are Damien Hirst, Banksy, Jeff Koons, Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali. A few of these names may be familiar to you; some may not. And if they are familiar to you, it may be because of their work as businessmen rather than their work as artists. But I assure you that all of these men began their careers as artists; they did not start out as businessmen, and did not become famous through business deals.

But how could this be? How could an artist become so successful while still focusing on his art? The answer is simple: he is creating art for money. This has been said before, but never with such clarity or profundity; never before have I felt so enlightened by a single sentence. But perhaps it would help if I gave an example?

You buy art for your house or for yourself, but does that make it about the house or about you?

Artists create for lots of reasons. Sometimes it’s for money. That doesn’t mean it’s not art. But it does make the art different from what you think it is.

Hypebot, a website that covers the music business, recently reported on a study conducted by The Economist that revealed that the Internet has killed art.

The study maintains that the Internet has made it easier than ever before for artists to distribute their music, and as a result, more popular music is available than ever before. As a result, according to the findings of this study, popular music is also less creative than it has ever been.

For example, the top 40 songs from 2006 all contained 4-chord progressions (I-V-vi-IV), whereas just 20 years earlier those same songs were much more varied in terms of their chord progressions. In fact, there was an even greater decrease in chord variation for other genres besides pop: when it came to jazz and classical recordings, particularly those recorded prior to 1990 showed “a high degree of musical complexity,” whereas recordings from recent decades show much less variety and complexity.

A common explanation for this phenomenon is that today’s recording artists are less original because they have grown up with instant access to everything that has come before them. Rather than creating something new, they simply repeat what they’ve heard before.

This explanation may or may not be true: the study itself acknowledges that there could be other

The “fine art” world has been built on the idea that art is something made by artists. But as more and more artists have come to rely on money from dealers and collectors to make their work, the definition of an artist becomes muddled.

What do you think?

I’ve had a long love affair with art and artists. I recently saw the documentary “Art and Craft” which is about two artists who create large scale, site-specific installations — these are typically very expensive pieces that require planning, materials, labor and expertise to execute. The film follows them as they approach potential buyers of their work, convincing them that what they are doing is art and that they should pay accordingly. I haven’t seen the whole film but from what I saw, it was disturbing to watch how the artists manipulated their buyers into buying their work for high prices by using emotional manipulation tactics learned from sales people.

One of the artists in the documentary created a custom metal sculpture for a wealthy couple’s home — he charged them $100K for this piece, which actually cost him next to nothing to make. He used flattery and false statements about the difficulty and expense of making this piece to get this couple to agree to pay him such a high price.

The other artist fabricated mini-installations as gifts for men she met in bars (she would tell them she was an interior designer but her real occupation was creating these installations). She would give these men little sculptures or mirrors that were meant to be placed on their desks at work and then over time she

Recently, I went to a gallery where an artist was selling simple drawings for $500. There were about 30 of them, and to me they looked like the sort of thing one might do as practice before developing a new drawing style or trying a new technique. They were not bad; they just looked like something I could do myself.

These days, many people in the art world seem to view artists who produce work solely for profit as either a problem or a joke. Yet the truth is that art has always been made with an eye toward selling it. The only difference is that today, artists whose success comes from selling art are less likely to be ashamed of it than they were in the past.

Tolstoy’s “What Is Art?” was published in 1898 and remains one of the most widely read essays ever written on the topic. But his views would later come to seem hopelessly old-fashioned. By the late 20th century, even those who were on Tolstoy’s side of the argument had begun to question where exactly he’d gone wrong. As with any good polemic, though, there’s still a great deal to learn from his method of arguing.

The essay begins by making a distinction between what Tolstoy calls art and what he calls craft: “Art is not, as the metaphysicians say, the production of an object beautiful in itself, but it is activity taking pleasure in its own achievements.” For Tolstoy, this means that “art proper can never be taught; . . . it must be felt and experienced.”

In other words, art

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