Monday, September 27, 2010

The Artist Statement Part 2: Why it is Important to have an Artist Statement

The Artist Statement Part 2: Why it is Important to have an Artist Statement

I have noticed two opinionated sides when it comes to the importance-- or lack thereof-- of having an artist statement. The supportive side will claim that the artist statement is of importance because it helps guide viewers so that they have a better understanding of the art they are viewing. In the extreme people will go as far as to say that the artist statement is a reflection of how well the artist in question can communicate both verbally and visually-- implying that an artist who writes a poor artist statement is at least partially discredited as an artist-- as in the validity of his or her art may also be questioned.

The opposing side will claim that the artist statement is not necessary because the artwork should be the statement-- the old saying “Art should speak for itself“ comes to mind. People who oppose artist statements generally feel that the statement can become a distraction as far as the artwork is concerned. In the extreme those who oppose artist statements will go as far as to say that the statement is an insult to all visual artists because it cheapens the value of visual language by projecting the idea that visual art fails to communicate openly with viewers.

Regardless of your opinion about writing an artist statement you must acknowledge the importance of having one in the sense that artists are often required to submit a statement in order to be considered for an exhibit or to apply for residencies and other forms of financial or material support. Thus, it is often necessary to write them and to write them well. The artist statement is not going away any time soon as near as I can tell. Thus, artists need to consider that at some point they may have to write one. So why not just get it over with and do it, right?

My experience dictates that artists who have an artist statement are more likely to attract press both online and offline. As an art writer and interviewer I will acknowledge that I tend to write more thoroughly about an artist if a thought provoking artist statement is provided. The same goes for interviews-- I’m more apt to ask detailed questions if an artist statement is available. Point blank-- a well thought out artist statement lures my interest-- and I know that other art writers agree with my view.

I consider the artist statement to be a crucial read when discovering the grit of what an artist is pursuing with his or her artwork. Furthermore, if an artist has an interesting artist statement I know that he or she will provide fascinating answers if contacted for an interview. Hundreds of artists have their interview with me listed in their cv-- and I'd say the blunt of those interviewed artists provided me with an artist statement or had one available online before I contacted them.

To sum this up-- providing an artist statement can lead to press. I don't think the majority of artists understand that a relatively short piece of text can help establish further exposure for their artwork. That is why having a detailed artist statement is important.

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Understanding the Business of Art Gallery Representation: The Big Agreement

Understanding the Business of Art Gallery Representation: The Big Agreement

 If we think of art in terms of business the decision of controlling ones market over sharing profit often comes into the fold. The issue at hand often boils down to mere percentages. The question at hand-- is it better for an artist to sell solo in order to reap the full reward of profiting from sales or is it better to place the business aspect of ones career into the hands of an art dealer who hopefully has more knowledge of selling art than the artists he or she represents? The choice is a personal one-- it is a choice that should involve deep consideration and research. Needless to say, art gallery representation is often very confusing to both emerging and seasoned artists. Thus, more artists need to understand the basics of gallery representation.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Artist Statement: (Part 1) Artists need to critique themselves

The Artist Statement Part 1: Artists need to critique themselves

It is not uncommon for me to receive questions concerning the need for having-- and the frustration of writing-- an artist statement. This is a topic of interest to me. I find the fact that there is debate over whether they are of importance or not to be fascinating. It amazes me that there are so many people with strong opinions involving the composition of a relatively brief text-- in some cases less than 100 words.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Artist Statements say Nothing when Plagiarism is Involved

Artist Statements say Nothing when Plagiarism is Involved:

After half a decade of writing about art and interviewing artists it is safe to say that I’ve viewed the artwork of thousands-- probably more in the hundreds of thousands-- online. I can remember days when it was not uncommon for me to view the work of at least 300 to 800 artists on a routine daily basis-- a constant search for potential interviews. Some days were devoted entirely to viewing art online. Needless to say, I've viewed a lot of artwork and have read many artist statements as Senior Editor of and as a contributing writer for other ventures. Thus, I have learned to key in on potential problems concerning the statements of artists and the manner in which they gain exposure online.

While 'hunting' for potential myartspace blog interviews I often notice basic problems artists face concerning exposure when placing their best foot forward via the Internet. In some cases the problem is in the form of poor website design-- others, poor image quality of photos that have been uploaded. These only serve as professional trip lines when one is trying to advance his or her exposure online. However, those errors can be corrected. Unfortunately, some of the problems I ’catch’ during my ’hunts’ are truly self-inflicted-- and can foster lasting damage to ones artistic ambition. The main issue-- individuals who plagiarize from the artist statements of others.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Looking Beyond the Hype: Is the contemporary art market a fraud?

Looking Beyond the Hype: Is the contemporary art market a fraud?

There has been a hailstorm of questions concerning the art market since the global financial bust. As the art market continues to have ups and downs some art collectors, art dealers, as well as the general public have demanded answers concerning the integrity of the art market as a whole. The focus of the criticism has been placed on the ethical practices of some art dealers and collectors. Needless to say, people are starting to examine the art market closer than they ever had before. At the source there is a great deal of hype to be found.

Many of the questions are common-- some were asked before the recent art world financial meltdown. Were prices inflated? Were novice art collectors duped? Did some art dealers sell ‘lemon art’ knowing that the investment would only ride as long as the art market continued to advance in a positive direction? Did top art collectors foster a market of excessive prices for their own gain? Are some artists to blame? Is the general public to blame? Who is responsible? The questions build up as individuals reflect on the art market as we know it-- frustration creates an environment of outrage.

Controversial art exhibits that stir violence and outrage-- who is responsible?

Communication Breakdown by Brian Sherwin

Controversial art exhibits that stir violence and outrage-- who is responsible?

In the last few years there seems to have been an increase in controversial art exhibits that cause a reaction of violence from protestors. For example, in early 2009 violence occurred outside of an art exhibit sponsored by the Vietnamese Arts & Letters Association Center. The exhibit explored aspects of communism and was meant to promote open communication about the experiences of Vietnamese Americans from different age groups.

Over 300 Vietnamese Americans protested the exhibit-- at one point protestors were able to gain access into the gallery in order to deface some of the displayed art. Protestors damaged public property outside of the exhibit as well. It should be noted that the controversial exhibit took place in a community where many Vietnamese Americans reside. Thus, one could say that an exhibit of this nature was not exactly a wise decision on the part of the curators-- especially since there are still ‘open wounds‘ within the community. Communication obviously broke down.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Art and Religious Blasphemy

Art and Religious Blasphemy

I feel compelled to write about the issue of art and religious blasphemy. This is due to a few articles on this subject that I’ve read recently-- as well as recent buzz in the news. I’m not going to target any specific religion or artist-- I’m simply going to offer some food for thought.

The contradictions surrounding what certain individuals will accept as meaningful visual criticism of a religion tends to interest me. I find it curious how quick some individuals will rush to the defense of a religion when an artist chooses to create offensive imagery involving religious leaders or symbols of faith of a specific religion-- while at the same time accepting similar behavior if another religion is involved. It sends the message that religious prejudice is acceptable depending on which religion is targeted.

The Spiritual Side of Art

She Thinks by Brian Sherwin

The Spiritual Side of Art

Art has the power to move people-- if art did not there would, in most cases, be no reason to create art in the first place. The visual dialogue that is art is one of the purest forms of communication in my opinion. There are hundreds if not thousands of examples of art that is capable of touching the soul of viewers. For example, viewers have been known to weep while standing before a painting by Mark Rothko-- while others have cried openly before Picasso’s Guernica. More recently-- viewers of Chet Zar’s work have described a ‘strange calm’ while gazing upon the world he has created with paint. Why? Because these works touched them on an inner level.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Brian Sherwin's thoughts on Fred Ross and the Art Renewal Center

My thoughts on Fred Ross and the Art Renewal Center

What happens when individuals who are inclined to favor the art world oppressors of the past play the role of victim today? One need only observe the Art Renewal Center (ARC) to find out. Below are some of my thoughts concerning ARC and the viewpoints of its founder-- Fred Ross.

Once upon a time the academic tradition had a strangle-hold on the 'art world'. Rules were applied to every type of artistic expression-- though one could debate that works of the time were more like regurgitation of old rules rather than a form of self-expression. After all, how can you express yourself when strict rules apply? If one were to break these rules he would be considered unskilled, untalented, or the Devil himself. I say “he” because the fact remains that the strict art academy of the past often denied artists who happened to be female.

Hype vs. Talent: Which is more important for mainstream success?

Hype vs. Talent: Which is more important for mainstream success?

If content is King than controversy is surely its mistress. A brief look at Yahoo or Google news reveals that to be true-- even when art is the focus of an article. Artwork is more apt to be covered by these news sources if it involves some form of controversy-- be it due to materials used or simply the subject of the work. There is also no doubt that some artists target controversy in order to spread knowledge of their work. It boils down to a question I’ve pondered before-- which is more important for mainstream success? Hype or talent?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Brian Sherwin's thoughts on VIP Art Fair-- I Told You So!

My thoughts on VIP Art Fair-- I Told You So!

When I first heard about VIP Art Fair I was certain that the mainstream art world would launch into attack mode. After all, it is not hard to find notable art critics and art dealers who are vocal against the concept of selling art online. That said, it appears VIP Art Fair has received a ‘Get out of jail free’ card from some of those very critics. I’m not going to land myself in the mess of calling out names-- but those in the staple art blogging community know who they are and what they have said about selling art online in the past.

Brian Sherwin -- Art Critic

 In Her Hand -- by Brian Sherwin

This is my personal blog. The following is some basic information about me:

I got my start with art writing / criticism after joining the team in September of 2006. I started out as a Contributing Editor for the Blog and worked my way up to Senior Editor in a relatively short frame of time. Since that time I've interviewed over 500 visual artists-- ranging from James Rosenquist to emerging artists such as Anthony Lister--  and have written just as many, if not more, articles about art. Eventually I plan to publish a book about my experiences, art theories, and advice.