Friday, October 15, 2010

Is Specialization in Visual Art Important?

Is Specialization in Visual Art Important? 

I was recently involved in a conversation concerning specialization in art. Those involved in the debate were split between whether or not it is important for an artist to only focus on one form of expression. The debate boiled down to two conflicting points:

The first point, a painter who also focuses on music-- or sculpting, photography, and so on-- as a form of expression may in turn become a better painter overall. The idea being that an artist can improve as a whole by spreading out his or her efforts.

The second point, it may be better for an artist to focus on one form of expression rather than explore different forms of self-expression. The idea being that by branching out creative endeavors an artist may cripple his or her efforts as a whole.

I must admit that the outcome of the debate was rather gridlocked. That said, I would like to make my opinion on specialization clear. I personally take a some-what middle of the road approach to the matter of specialization concerning art depending on the context. While I do agree that it is important for an artist to have creative experiences outside of his or her focus of artistic creation I also feel that it is important to establish a specific direction.

In other words, if an artist desires recognition for his or her efforts I firmly believe that it is critical for he or she to establish a strong body of artwork that reflects a unified focus of expression. Thus, if an artist desires to be known for his or her paintings he or she would be best served by spending the blunt of valuable time focusing on painting rather than sculpting or what have you.

When it comes to art exhibits my thoughts on specialization shift rather quickly. I personally find it annoying when I visit an art gallery only to discover that half of the various styles and methods of artwork exhibited were created by a single artist. It leaves me thinking that the artist lacks direction. Thus, I find that it is better if an artist exhibits artwork that share a common connection or style.

Don't get me wrong-- It is great to branch out in the studio, but as far as exhibiting I think that specialization-- a clear focus of style and methods-- happens to be of great importance. As stated, my thoughts on specialization differ based on context. In other words, what is explored in the studio may not exactly be the best way to present oneself within the context of an art exhibit.

What are your thoughts on specialization as far as art is concerned?

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin

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