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From Artsy:

Study Finds Artists Become Famous through Their Friends, Not the Originality of Their Work
Casey Lesser
Feb 27, 2019 5:36pm

… Ingram and his colleague Mitali Banerjee, of HEC Paris, used MoMA’s findings to examine the role that creativity and social networks played for these artists, in relationship to the level of fame they achieved. In a 2018 paper, they relayed their findings—including that for successful artists, making friends may be more important than producing novel art.

Ingram and Banerjee started their study by quantifying the fame, creativity, and social network of the artists in “Inventing Abstraction.” To determine each artist’s renown, they turned to Google’s database of historical texts in French and English (given that the artists were primarily living in France and the U.S.), and recorded the number of mentions each artist had between 1910 and 1925. They were looking at fame in terms of how well-known the artists were beyond their own social circles, Ingram noted, “and we’re essentially saying [that] how often you show up in the written word is an indicator of that.”

In order to understand the creativity of the artists’ work, they employed two methods. First, they used machine learning to analyze and rate the creativity of thousands of artworks by the relevant artists; the computer program rated how unique works are in comparison to a set of representational artworks from the 19th century. They also asked four art historians to rate artworks by each artist for their creativity, based on factors like originality and innovation. (They found that the scores artists earned from machine learning and art historians were positively correlated.)

While past studies have suggested that there is a link between creativity and fame, Ingram and Banerjee found, in contrast, that there was no such correlation for these artists. Rather, artists with a large and diverse network of contacts were most likely to be famous, regardless of how creative their art was.

Specifically, the greatest predictor of fame for an artist was having a network of contacts from various countries. Ingram believes this indicates that the artist was cosmopolitan and had the capacity to reach different markets or develop ideas inspired by foreign cultures. The “linchpin of the network,” he added, was Kandinsky.

I rather like Kandinsky’s paintings.

He lived in Russia, Germany, and France, so he got to know a large fraction of Europe’s cultural elite.

They also found that famous artists tended to be older, likely because they were already famous as abstraction was emerging, Ingram explained.

In terms of creativity, they found that neither the computational evaluations nor the art historians’ expert opinions were strong indicators of an artist’s renown. In other words, if an artist had high creativity scores, they were not necessarily famous.

“An important implication of the paper is to show that diverse networks matter not only as a source of creativity…but could mean other benefits,” Ingram said. “That even aside from creativity…the artists benefit from the cosmopolitan identity.”

My favorite story about networking appeared in the Princeton alumni magazine. Movie director Ethan Coen’s college roommate reported that Ethan didn’t socialize too much at Princeton, instead spending most of his time on the phone with his older brother Joel discussing whom they would cast in their future movies.

One time the roommate suggested to Ethan that he attend a party where a lot of important people would be because he it would be good networking for whatever would be his future career. Ethan Coen replied that he already knew what what his future career would be and who would be his career partner.

I wrote about who you know in art back in 2008:

In 1993, I attended the enormously popular exhibition at the formidable Chicago Art Institute of the paintings of the Belgian Rene Magritte, a commercial artist in dreary Brussels who did witty Surrealist paintings in his off-hours.

Magritte inspired the CBS eye logo

Magritte was hugely influential on other commercial artists before he was finally accepted as a worthy prestige artist.

After listening to a lecture on Magritte by the curator of exhibition, I approached her and told her how much more popular Magritte had gotten in just 17 years. In 1976 I’d visited a major exhibition of Magritte’s work at the museum of Rice University in Houston, which, at the time, consisted of two quonset huts made of corrugated metal out in the football stadium parking lot. Almost nobody was there. …

And then I asked the poor curator the kind of uncomfortable question that has led me to stop going out in public: “So, if Magritte can climb so much in prestige, can we expect to attend an M.C. Escher retrospective at the Art Institute in a few decades?”

Her face clouded over with consternation. She began to explain that new research into Magritte’s life recently discovered that he hadn’t spent all his life in boring Brussels, but had actually spent 1927-30 in Paris, where he became friends with the leading artists of the day. And then she stopped, and said, “I don’t want to make it sound like being a famous artist is all about who you know …” And then she stopped again, because that’s exactly what it sounded like. I made some encouraging noises to assure her that I’d never dream such a thing, and she got back on track.

On the other hand, I could see an argument that impressing a lot of fellow artists is the best test of greatness. See my essay “Is the History of Art a Hoax?” for why the conventional wisdom is likely more or less right.

Or see:

Revising the Canon: How Andy Warhol Became the Most Important American Modern Artist
University of Chicago, Becker Friedman Institute for Economics Working Paper No. 2021-14

60 Pages Posted: 4 Feb 2021
David W. Galenson
University of Chicago – Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Quantitative analysis of narratives of art history published since 2000 reveals that scholars and critics now judge that Andy Warhol has surpassed Jackson Pollock and Jasper Johns as the most important modern American painter. Auction prices suggest that collectors share this opinion. Disaggregated analysis of the published narratives by decade reveals that Warhol first gained clear critical recognition as the leading Pop artist in the 1990s, and then as the most important American artist overall in the 2000s. This rise in Warhol’s status appears initially to have been a result of his enormous influence on Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, and others in the cohort that transformed the New York art world in the 1980s, and subsequently of his persisting influence on leading artists around the world who have emerged since the 1990s, including Damien Hirst, Takashi Murakami, and Ai Weiwei. Warhol’s many radical conceptual innovations, that transformed both the appearance of art and the behavior of artists, made him not only the most important American artist, but the most important Western artist overall of the second half of the twentieth century.

Or maybe Basquiat and Haring are famous because they knew Warhol, who made it his business to know everybody famous (here’s my column on the Warhol-Trump relationship)?

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  1. anonotron says:

    The artists who are cosmopolitan could not afford to do that kind of travel back then unless either they were already rich or were successful artists at some level already.

    • Replies: @Anonymouse
  2. Arclight says:

    If you haven’t seen it, watch the documentary “Exit Through the Giftshop.” It definitely illustrates that having a good network leads to high exposure and being taken seriously as an artist, even if you are completely derivative and/or crap. It’s a really entertaining movie and Banksy (who directed it) is honest enough to touch on this topic and its role in modern art stardom.

    • Thanks: Intensifier
    • Replies: @Sam
    , @Bardon Kaldian
  3. It would shock me were it NOT the case that reputation in the art world is contingent on networks of influential people both knowing of one and being well disposed.

    If that is true if other aspects of unmeasurable human endeavour then why not in art?

    • Agree: HammerJack
  4. It is about the canonical status, I see.

    Well, in my opinion….

    1. we simply don’t know whether these works will last, and there is no way to know. Whether anyone will care in next 50 or 100 years- we don’t know. Even now- it’s just a matter of cultural elites, financiers and propaganda of, say, “taste”. I do like Kandinsky, but… It’s just not about “liking”.
    It is dubious if any painter after Goya can be considered “great” in the old fashioned, “genius” sense I associate with Titian, Duerer, Holbein, Velazquez, Rembrandt, El Greco or Caravaggio. Even Watteau was not “great” in that sense, let alone all impressionists & post-impressionists, cubists etc. So, in my view, genius painting disappeared somewhere during the Baroque period, with the last flash in pre-Romantic Goya … and then, gone. After Goya, only talents. From Manet and Cezanne to Picasso and Mal’evich.

    2. I don’t think that creativity equals novelty or uniqueness. There is some correlation, but it is not enough.

    3. then, tastes change. Most of old Greek & Roman lyric poetry is unreadable, because sensibility has changed. Their mythologies, too. On the other hand, Christian culture has elevated not few weird & actually obscene OT stories which, if one puts them even in the pre-modern moral perspective of, say, Socrates, are, frankly, disgusting (Abraham, Samson, …).

    4. it is not so about novelty, but mastery & communicability. Without it, most modern art remains sterile, dull & simply yawn-inspiring.

    That’s why not only Warhol & Pollock, but also Miro, Leger, most of later Matisse, at least 80% of Picasso… remains bullshit art.

    • Replies: @Desiderius
  5. Anon[301] • Disclaimer says:

    There’s a legit academic research paper that determined that the one most important factor in the success of an artist was living in New York.

    It’s like the way musicians have to live in Los Angeles, Nashville, or New York.

  6. Sam says:

    Thanks for the recommendation.

    Other recommended art documentaries?

    I enjoyed Who the $&% Is Jackson Pollock ($%26%25_Is_Jackson_Pollock%3F) and The Great Contemporary Art Bubble (BBC) 

    On my list:
    -The Price of Everything (HBO)
    -Tim’s Vermeer, entertaining ?
    -The Shock of the New by Robert Hughes

    • Replies: @Anon
  7. @Bardon Kaldian

    It’s just not about “liking”

    Well, not in general, but in this specific case, yes, I believe it is.

    Which is why we take the time and trouble to read him.

  8. El Dato says:

    I could see an argument that impressing a lot of fellow artists is the best test of greatness.

    Wouldn’t that be as hard as impressing a lot of fellow scientists with new and radical ideas? You will hear “Your approach is shite, dear colleague. Don’t try to push PhD students into this..”


    Ingram believes this indicates that the artist was cosmopolitan and had the capacity to reach different markets or develop ideas inspired by foreign cultures.

    Today, this means they would be canceled for “cultural appropriation”: “artless cosmopolitans”.

    Talking about Brussels/Bruxelles and its drearyness, and because it’s Friday here’s an extract from a Belgian comic “Plagiat!” (1989, Scenario: Schuiten & Peeters, Art: Goffin, in the style of “ligne claire”). After a sneak preview during a break-in at his mansion, famous painter’s Chris van Meer’s new & upcoming style is successfully preempted & hijacked by someone whose alias is “Tommy Crane”. Chris loses all (including the wife, who moves back to her mother), lives in the basement and starts to sign his own work as “Tommy Crane” before selling it as such. Art reporters discover this and think the plagiarism controversy was just a ruse to attain even greater levels of fame. Chris is dusted down, shaved and put in front of cameras to explain his story. Just as he is about to say all the wrong things, “Tommy Crane” shoots him from the shadows, forever immortalizing Chris van Meer.

    And then she stopped again, because that’s exactly what it sounded like. I made some encouraging noises to assure her that I’d never dream such a thing, and she got back on track.


  9. Altai says:

    Study Finds Artists Become Famous through Their Friends, Not the Originality of Their Work

    But also, don’t say the praise for Gustav Mahler is just a little too high or you’ll get cancelled from the Classical scene.

  10. And then I asked the poor curator the kind of uncomfortable question that has led me to stop going out in public: “So, if Magritte can climb so much in prestige, can we expect to attend an M.C. Escher retrospective at the Art Institute in a few decades?”

    One of my favorite art world stories was told to me by the man who owned Escher’s portfolio. He told me he bought the work from the estate or the family or whoever it was — but he didn’t buy the copyrights.

    So, he owned the originals, but he didn’t make any money off that poster you bought at college.

  11. Altai says:

    One thing about the internet is that is has revealed just how many talented artists of all kinds there are. Most people were aware that being a good singer was quite common (Reality TV has mined this fact very successfully) but it turns there the modern art schools are churning out vast amounts of artists with photo-realist skills.

    But commercial art has become quite cheap since digital art took over. I really hate it, it looks flat and cheap and washed out and that’s before we get into the Tumblr style that has become so en vogue. Scanners are impeccable today just pay a guy to do real art and scan it.

    In that context networking (Or virtue signalling) is very important to making you stand out. I suppose it would be nice to read and see more art by people who weren’t raging narcissists.

  12. I’ve read Steve’s original text & agree with him…to a point.

    It true about “who influenced whom”, but after some time, it all boils down to- do these people’s works matter anymore for an educated public, free of dogmatic constraints? Of course, having in mind differences in temper.

    First- cultural relativism. No one of sane mind will dispute the fact that Western music is richer. I am not saying better, but richer. The West has the organ, piano, cello, violin, ….. and one simply cannot find anything comparable in any high traditional culture. So, the West has, re music- “more” than the rest.

    Regarding influences, the pre-eminent poets were, among others, Virgil and Byron. Both are now virtually unreadable, especially Virgil. So, if we take classical Roman writers, we’ll see that most of them have vanished; they’re simply obsolete for most lay readers. Doubtless, Tacitus is great as an artist, still extremely interesting- while all the bunch of other Romans, especially poets have virtually vanished. They’re dull, boring, insignificant,….

    Influence? Perhaps the most influential poet of the last Millennium was Petrarch. He invented the sonnet & ruled for ca. 300-400 years. Now, he sounds like a rather conventional guy; or the cult of Arcadia by Jacopo Sanazzaro, the big hit for 200 years. Unreadable.

    So, Giotto may be considered “great” simply because he originated the way of painting which paved the way to really mature & permanent great works, which still affect 21st C non-idiotic people. He is more important as the origin (except his tower in Florence, which truly is great by any standards).

    It is basically- is a work of art of any significance to a modern man, after enough time has passed- enough being 100-200 years? And considering that some artists had their ups & downs; also, having in mind that ideologies like feminism, post-modernism, critical cliques … greatly influence status of a work of art, and that some arts (film, comics) are too close to tell.

    • Replies: @TelfoedJohn
  13. As so often I point to Nasim Taleb and his conceit of the “Lindy Effect”

    Time is the great truthteller. the Only truthteller. We know The greats are great because time tell us they are.

    No “modern art” can sensibly be called great since we simply don’t know yet.

  14. Art is foremost about play***** and freedom and thus only partly about importance and prices and all that. It has a lot to do with living together too. Art is a way for people (for very different kinds of people) to socialize and make life – bearable, rich, mysterious, clear, playful and radiating*

    (*cf. – this poem about art below:

    Archaic Torso of Apollo

    Rainer Maria Rilke  (1875-1926)

    We cannot know his legendary head
    with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
    is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
    like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,

    gleams in all its power. Otherwise
    the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could
    a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
    to that dark center where procreation flared.

    Otherwise this stone would seem defaced
    beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
    and would not glisten like a wild beast’s fur:

    would not, from all the borders of itself,
    burst like a star: for here there is no place
    that does not see you. You must change your life.


    ***** man is only then fully man when at play (Fv Schiller)

    • Replies: @Anon
  15. Art instruction in the latter 20th and early 21st century in America consists in learning to copy paintings and sculpture that was originally executed by American artists of the first half of the 20th century. To be successful at this is taken as evidence of “originality”. If a student devotes the same energy to copying 17th century masters, they are said to be regressive, slaves of tradition.

    In the first case, you disregard any limitations imposed by the properties inherent in the medium itself. Pollack’s paintings mixed automotive lacquers with ordinary oil and water-based house paint on an unprimed canvas. They are a conservator’s nightmare, due to things like different rates of expansion and contraction caused by humidity and temperature.

    In contrast, traditional paintings were as carefully built as the then state of the art about painting allowed. Paints were layered on in thin glazes over a well-prepared ground, which, as any house painter knows, is preferable to one or two finish coats on raw wood .

    When Impressionists and Expressionists carried their easels outdoors and needed to get all the essential information down in a single two hour session, they were careful to apply their necessarily thick, opaque colors in small dots, which broke up the span of paint and allowed each dot to swell and contract without breaking the overall paint film. So, pointilism not only expressed the then current revolutionary theory of vision, but also lent itself to relatively durable paintings.

  16. Anon7 says:

    “In Art, It’s Who You Know”

    And also what you’re called. Yes, I’m looking at you “Has_bro_”.

    Potato Head, my ass.

  17. Hodag says:

    There is a version of the LOVE sculpture in some guy’s front yard near The Dunes Club in New Buffalo, MI. It really isn’t that big. Every time I drive or walk past I try to figure out how much it is worth and how easy it would be to steal.

  18. Still well worth reading is Tom Wolfe’s The Painted Word.

    • Replies: @John Milton’s Ghost
  19. Yes, the network effect is real. And ancient. The old Roman client-patron system is just one example. But, you need the temperament as well as the talent. More introverted types I would guess would benefit less. The more agreeable and extroverted you are, along with your natural talent, probably gets you noticed and introduced more. Doesn’t hurt if your average or above in looks too.

    “On the other hand, I could see an argument that impressing a lot of fellow artists is the best test of greatness.”

    Agree; if your natural talent is for art, you can probably tell the quality of someone else’s art. Then again, what’s considered “great art” is notoriously fluid across time and space. I tend to prefer art that is more clear (to me) in what it conveys; like the ancient Greek/Roman statues, Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescos, paintings of Rembrandt, John Trumball’s paintings of early America, or Frederick Remington’s Old West depictions. Even Monet’s Impressionist and Van Gogh’s post-impressionist paintings are quite fascinating and spectacular. But I don’t get Dali, Picasso, Pollack and others of the more contemporary “it” styles. Though I do have a soft spot for Heironymous Bosch’s strange style. Your mileage may vary, and I defer to those here who do enjoy these other styles. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and all that. And yes, I know my tastes are more “conventional”, but there it is.

  20. @Auntie Analogue

    Yes I was thinking of Wolfe’s essays on art when I read this. Everyone hung around Warhol but I remember one part when he produced some art film and the whole audience was bored. But they still had to pay homage to King Andy.

    Also in true Wolfe-ian fashion the cab driver who rose through hustle figures out how to corner the art market by finding the next big thing rather than chasing the last big thing. Alas nowadays I don’t think hustle pays, unless you have the correct politics.

  21. Tim says:

    I don’t think that anyone was surprised by this study. I think Donald Trump said it best when he said, “I think modern art is a con.”

    I think he is right, but I also think that to perpetuate that con an artist has to get so involved in the world of art that he actually falls for it himself.

    I often think most “art people” spend a lot of time trying to out “adjective” each other. I remember reading an article in Architecture Digest, and the designer of the room said that she felt the room needed to be “edited”. That’s when I remember thinking these people are BS.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
  22. Some artists are very influential, others less so. It would be helpful if critics would distinguish “great” artists, in whom we would see not only influence but also technical mastery and meaningful content, from the merely influential, who are in some cases kind of like the Instagram version of an artist, or just scenesters.

    For example, I think Picasso is “great” because the record of his works shows that he really did choose to pursue a novel, at the time bizarre approach to painting – he had the chops to paint in the more traditional style, did so at first, and moved on deliberately to new frontiers. So technical mastery is demonstrated. His content was both topical at the time as well as reflecting timeless themes of human existence (e.g., Guernica – the horrors of war).

    A basic and explicit set of criteria like this would enable some discernment of who was “great”.

  23. Anon[280] • Disclaimer says:
    @Dieter Kief

    Would Rilke have been referring to the Belvedere torso? In that case, it’s a contrast to Renaissance sensibility, which recognized the sheer beauty and fine craftsmanship of the piece. Perhaps amazement at the power of stone to endure done the centuries. All factors missing in modern art.

    The other piece that sparked the Italian Renaissance was the Laocoon, which had the additional depth of pathos, of the story portrayed in stone. Pliny the Elder had references to the statue in his work. (The two pieces, discovered in 1489 and 1506, caused huge public interest and conformed the core of the world’s first museum, in the Belvedere Palace of Rome. Michelangelo, working for architect Giuliano da Sangallo was involved in the discovery of the Laocoon).

    All these issues —beauty, craft, pathos— addressed man’s reason. The artists and patrons of the time wanted art to elevate the mind and express a common heritage.

    The 19th century poet, perhaps understandably, expresses his personal feelings face-to-face with the sculpture. His senses respond, but his intellect seems not to broaden much beyond himself.

    • Replies: @Dieter Kief
  24. The artsy-fartsy world is full of blowhard bullshitters.

  25. Put me down for some of that art:

  26. @Captain Tripps

    “Yes, the network effect is real”

    My brother, who is quite possibly Steve 8, encouraged me to take up golf because I’m lousy at networking.

    • LOL: Captain Tripps
  27. @Captain Tripps

    “Heironymous Bosch’s strange style”

    In my view a mirror of reality. As are most of the surrealists. Life would be much more pleasant if I had the eyes of an English pastoralist.

    • Agree: Captain Tripps
  28. Not Raul says:

    The “linchpin of the network,” he added, was Kandinsky.

    To me, it sounds like Kandinsky’s friends were more famous due to knowing him, rather than the other way around.

    Perhaps I’m a bit biased. I rather like Kandinsky myself, and I had the happy surprise of finding an exhibition of his works when I wandered in to the Centre Pompidou. First I found out that most of the museum was closed for renovations; but then I found out that a temporary exhibition was open, and it was fantastic.

  29. Muggles says:

    I’ve always assumed that to become a contemporary “famous” artist, the most common route to follow is the old (rather cringeworthy) saying, ‘it’s who you know and who you blow.’

    Considering where most expensive art is bought, and the characteristics of a large number of buyers and especially, of art critics and museum curators. The foot soldiers of “art criticism” and reviews.

    Of course there are other factors, novelty, new style, and other elements of appeal. But I think there are few if any parallels in the physical art world (paint, sculpture) to a ‘blind audition’ format of evaluation.

    Merely being gay is not much in this world. Better to be trans, or non white, female maybe even an immigrant (when in America). Gotta tick those boxes.

    Watch a few episodes of the PBS show Antiques Roadshow to discover hints of what art produced long ago, long past the personal influence of the artist and then contemporary critics/buyers, to see which works of art still stand out.

  30. @Altai

    The sheer volume of talent vastly exceeds the limited number of sinecures. Not just in the world of art, but in various lucrative professions (entertainment, finance, academia, media, etc).

    Social media has exposed just how absurdly huge the talent pool is in this world. Look at how many crazy awesome drawers, painters, singers, writers, dancers, actors, programmers, intellectuals, journalists, speakers, etc. that you find online. In any field, there’s seemingly enough talent to fill an ocean. In many cases, these online anonymous people are much more talented than the individuals you see on TV. Despite this, look at how few of these online anonymous people have gone on to true success. Look at how many are underemployed and struggling. It’s really remarkable.

    So if you’re a gatekeeper who decides who gets into a lucrative job (and who is kept out), you exert a vast amount of power over shaping society. You can also extract a significant gatekeeper “toll” in the form of rents (universities and licensing), forcing ideological conformity, and even sexual favors (“casting couch”). This is especially true in industries in which merit and productivity are difficult to measure (such as art, entertainment, media, and politics).

    So the next time you see a super successful person on TV, don’t forget the “tolls” they paid along the way. This is why even seemingly untalented people get ahead so often, and it’s also why these successful people frequently speak of how they’ve “sacrificed so much” to get ahead.

    One last thing. Don’t forget to ask yourself who are the gatekeepers and what are their motives. If you do so, you’ll learn a lot about how society functions.

  31. @Captain Tripps

    you need the temperament as well as the talent. More introverted types I would guess would benefit less. The more agreeable and extroverted you are, along with your natural talent, probably gets you noticed and introduced more. Doesn’t hurt if your average or above in looks too.

    Yes, and as others say here these things are true in so many fields. People want to be associated with whomever they consider to be “winners” and really, how could it be otherwise?

    What should also not be minimized is the degree to which the popular press have always decided who’s “important” and who is not.

  32. Anonymous[329] • Disclaimer says:

    Alas, I don’t know anyone famous, and have no clue how to network among the grand and glorious so my execrable art mostly appears in bars and on the sides of custom vans. I’m okay with that. You bet.

  33. I have a cool friend who is semi-prominent in the world of art&photography. According to him, art is very frequently used as a vehicle for money laundering.

    Rich people buy and sell art not because they’re cultural sophisticates. They buy and sell art primarily because it’s an effective way to launder money (without the authorities finding out), and also because it’s an effective way to save on taxes. In addition to this, there’s a lot of other shady stuff that goes on in the industry.

    Ordinary people are naive and get bamboozled when they see works of art getting sold for huge sums. Wealthy collectors, art brokers, attorneys, auction houses, and artists know what’s up.

    Well-connected artists are apart of these fraud-based business networks. These artists are prized not because they’re talented, but because they’re willing to cooperate in the execution of complex schemes. They’re willing to play ball and keep their mouths shut. However, in many cases, they have little artistic ability, so their art often sucks.

    That’s why the above-referenced study found no correlation between an artist’s originality and his success, but it did find a correlation between social connections and success.

    If you know a lot of people in the art world who are willing to do you “favors” (wink, wink!), it’s because you’re a shady hustler who has a reputation for participating in financial schemes. Not because you’re talented at creating works of art.

    To be fair, most artists are honest. This is why their careers don’t take off. The art world isn’t interested in ethical artists, even if they are crazy talented.

    TLDR Summary: Financial chicanery is rampant in the art world. Talent won’t get you far in the industry. You need to be a hustler if you want to build connections and truly succeed.

    • Thanks: JimDandy
  34. WTF?

    • Replies: @Neoconned
  35. Movie director Ethan Coen’s college roommate reported that Ethan didn’t socialize too much at Princeton…

    Ethan majored in philosophy and Joel in filmmaking at NYU. They joke that their academic parents thought that Ethan was taking the more responsible career path. Good advice for undecided college students is to double-major in something practical and something spiritual. That way you won’t regret not taking the other. The Coens did this, but with two people instead of one.

    (Where they weren’t responsible was in naming Edward and Rena Coen’s only three grandchildren.)

    Ai Weiwei

    Is there some Czechoslovak or Yugoslav artist lacking a vowel? Perhaps a Vlk Čtvrthrst? Vanna could mediate a sale.

    By the way, the museum curator in Bob the Builder is David Mockney. That could almost be the rhyming slang of the David Hockneys of East End London.

  36. @Tim

    I don’t think that anyone was surprised by this study. I think Donald Trump said it best when he said, “I think modern art is a con.”

    Yet another way in which he is the anti-Rockefeller. (Run by a Goldwater!)

    • Replies: @Paperback Writer
  37. Anon[166] • Disclaimer says:

    “Who you know” applies to so many walks of life, but with representative art, decadent as it is, talent, genius, virtuosity are less part of the equation than perhaps anywhere else.

  38. @Bardon Kaldian

    Influence? Perhaps the most influential poet of the last Millennium was Petrarch. He invented the sonnet & ruled for ca. 300-400 years. Now, he sounds like a rather conventional guy

    Isn’t that how it works? The most influential then becomes the most boring now, simply because everyone else has copied them, so to our eyes they seem staid and conventional.

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
  39. Anon[210] • Disclaimer says:

    Roger Scruton, BBC, “Why beauty matters”

  40. @JohnnyWalker123 has got it right, imho. Given that there’s no shortage of talent out there, and given that the arts aren’t like sports (leagues, scores, numbers), where talent can kinda be objectively evaluated, who will succeed professionally and who won’t? On what basis? Who and what are making those decisions? Success in the arts is 20% talent, 40% drive, 20% connections, and 20% luck.

  41. All that said, it’s also important not to give in to total cynicism. Here’s a little inspiration, a very moving short documentary by Roger Scruton.

  42. @Anon

    The 19th-century poet, perhaps understandably, expresses his personal feelings face-to-face with the sculpture. His senses respond, but his intellect seems not to broaden much beyond himself.

    Well – . – Rainer Maria is all about transcendence. The other. The miracle. That that can’t be explained. The moment that expands your the readers (and his…) boundaries; and maybe transcends our miseries too.***The luminous and luminescent in everyday life – and in death even****** –  – – because what Rilke’s poem is about is a statue which shows a wounded – well more than that: a decapitated Roman God.
    Of course, the poem is also about the biggest of all tasks of art: Sublimation of primal drives (here: Sex, clearly in that center where procreation flared – near the thighs).
    So – not his feelings are the subject here, but the power of art, which – can be felt, that’s true and shown here too, but – – – this power hints at more than that –  – – for details – reflect please what I’ve just written above…

    ***Here I think of one of my favorite essays ever about art: Paul Nelson’s portrait of Bob Dylan in Rolling Stone’s Illustrated History of Rock ‘n’ Roll (a great book, too btw.). – If Heinrich von Kleist had nothing written at all but his essay On the Marionette Theatre he’d still rank amongst the best Gerrman writers. – That’s how I think about Nelson’s Dylan-Essay. And one fundamental thing he get’s right about art is the connection between art, longing, and suffering (it is not accidental therefore of course, that he wrote about Dylan because Dylan knew this from early on (what is rare – Dylan was old and young at the same time (another of our contemporary great ones knew this trick too: Neil Young)).

    ****** he would later – in the rather frugal but beautifully located Muzot Castle in the Canton Valais in Switzerland – dive completely into this realm where existence ends: Death – and succeed with his Duino Elegies and the final Sonnets to Orpheus (The Duino Elegies are quite impressively translated – as his poems are too – into English by the Californian scholar C. F. McIntyre, who spent many a year with Rilke’s work.

    Philosopher Peter Sloterdijk wrote a good book titled after the last line from Rilke’s Archaic Torso: You Must Change Your Life

    The torso Rilke had in mind might be one from Milet, 6th century BC, in the Louvre, but that is not sure. He did not care to make that known and I think rightfully so.

    • Replies: @Anon
  43. @Altai

    modern art schools are churning out vast amounts of artists with photo-realist skills.

    Really? My sense of it is that most art school graduates can’t draw at all.

    • Replies: @Paperback Writer
  44. JMcG says:

    Johnny Walker 123 –
    There’s an article about Pedophilia Rings in West Berlin you might find of interest.
    It’s in today’s Irish Times. Written by Derek Scally. Sorry, don’t know how to insert a link.
    The main photo for the article is of Zoo Station, after which a U2 song was titled.
    It makes for some very sad reading I’m afraid.

    • Thanks: JohnnyWalker123
  45. @International Jew

    They can’t. Art schools — that is, art department of accredited universities and colleges — junked basic draftsmanship requirements with the advent of Abstract Expressionism.

    Basic draftsmanship never went out of style with illustrators, however, and such skills are prized and taught at more vocational schools with zero prestige. Think School of Visual Arts v. Yale. These guys study the old draftsmen like Andrew Loomis and swap PDFs of his books.

    • Replies: @The Wild Geese Howard
  46. @Reg Cæsar

    Modern art isn’t a con if you think of it as an investment.

    Me, I’ve always thought the logos of these twitter accounts (look up MLB Strike Zone) look like Rothkos:

  47. @anonotron

    Travel used to be cheap before jet planes. Student fare shipping, hitchhiking, cheap rail travel. I know this because I did it myself on nickels in the mid 1950s.

  48. Neoconned says:

    I wish i had been in NYC in the 80s and 90s….Steve you truly dont know how lucky you were to be young when you were….

  49. Neoconned says:

    There’s an AI that can read heart graphs and tell if you will die within a year…..FB can tell by their AI if you are homo by your likes……

    AI is interesting…..

  50. In Art, It’s Who You Know

    Who knows about you is also very important. Land on the wrong side of those in power, and you are done.

  51. ‘In Art, It’s Who You Know’

    No shit.

    I think it was Andy Warhol who said that it wasn’t a question of what you sold a painting for, but who you sold it to.

    Sell me your latest masterpiece for $500, and it’ll disappear into the unseen crypt that is my living room. Sell it to Josh Faggot at [i]ArtForum[/i] — and it’ll make your career.

  52. Can we expect to attend an M.C. Escher retrospective at the Art Institute in a few decades?

    Escher exchanged ideas with a young Roger Penrose, who went on to win the Nobel Prize last year for his work on black holes.

    A few words from Penrose, and there might well be an M.C. Escher retrospective at the Art Institute.

  53. ‘…See my essay “Is the History of Art a Hoax?” …’

    What I have observed is that an artist’s prominence tends to be determined not by the quality of his artworks so much as by how well he fits into the art history narrative.

    Take Manet. Overall, decidedly uninteresting, and not particularly productive, [b]but[/i] he does fit into the narrative. I’m sure if any of his paintings came onto the market they would sell in the tens of millions.

    Now take Konstantine Makovsky.


    Konstantine Makovsky. Russian realist from the Nineteenth Century. His [i]Russian Bride’s Attire[/i] is one of my favorite paintings.

    If it ever came onto the market, I wouldn’t be surprised if I could afford it. Of course, I’d need a house big enough to hang it; it must measure twelve by sixteen feet.

    Point is, Makovsky’s little tributary isn’t part of the narrative. So by the square foot, he’s worth about a hundredth of what Manet is.

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
    , @Anon
  54. Thus, it is nurture, not nature, that makes artists.

    I bet that never occurred to you. You were just making some idle comment on nepotism, you though.

  55. MBlanc46 says:

    You used to actually have to be able to do something to earn your crust as an artist. People had to want to give you money in exchange for what you made. But now machines can make just about everything that people want. So artists, such as they are, have to convince museum curators that the cognoscenti think that you’re going to be the next big thing or convince high-dollar investors that you’re going to be the next big thing, or both.

  56. @TelfoedJohn

    It depends. For instance, Michelangelo & Raphael had been instantly recognized as “great”; they remain that (although Raphael’s status has slightly dimmed); Beethoven is now even greater than during his lifetime, when he was proclaimed to be the general of all musicians.

    I am not talking about those guys & gals who had attained high status posthumously (Shakespeare, Bach, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Kate Chopin, …), but about folks who were recognized when alive & retained that permanently (Montaigne, Jane Austen, Haydn, Wagner, Titian, Duerer, George Eliot, Sappho, ..).

    Then, there are artists once highly admired, but a change of sensibilities or some other elements made them not such a big deal for the contemporary general public (Vivaldi, Tasso, Ariosto, Byron, Arnold Bennett, Tiepolo, ..).

  57. @Colin Wright

    I’m not so sure. Manet’s titillating tits are a great work of erotic art. Among so many nudes, this is perhaps one of the very few really arousing, inducing in a male mind a wish to screw a model …

    • Replies: @Colin Wright
  58. Anon[166] • Disclaimer says:
    @Dieter Kief

    Very interesting, thank you.

    I was gifted a Rilke book many years ago, precisely in the Valais, by a fan. I tried it a few times over the years, never quite catching its wisdom. In the bit you kindly copied.. it’s too vague for me. .. We don’t see Apollo properly, yet we glimpse a (god-like)brilliance that impels a personal change, a sort of conversion, in the onlooker.

    It does not resonate with anything I understand about human nature. Not even in relation to, say God. The reference to sex/infinite was perhaps more novel in his time.

    That’s why I spoke about how the discovery of theLaocoon/Belvedere torso was viewed in its time. Anyway, an enriching exchange.

    • Replies: @Dieter Kief
  59. Anon[166] • Disclaimer says:
    @Colin Wright

    Beautiful.. a story in every countenance.

    A little like Toby Rosenthal’s 1908 “His Madonna”. Also anachronic.

  60. @Paperback Writer

    Architectural schools at major universities have done much the same thing with architectural drafting classes.

    The most employable architecture grads are coming from tech schools like Lawrence Tech near Detroit.

    • Replies: @International Jew
  61. jon says:

    Followed your link to “Is the History of Art a Hoax” and I found myself at the Wiki page for Duchamp’s Fountain (urinal), oh my sides, I can’t stop laughing:

    Fountain is a readymade sculpture by Marcel Duchamp in 1917, consisting of a porcelain urinal signed “R. Mutt”.

    Readymade? Apparently, it was a whole category of art by Duchamp.

    The readymades of Marcel Duchamp are ordinary manufactured objects that the artist selected and modified, as an antidote to what he called “retinal art”.[1] By simply choosing the object (or objects) and repositioning or joining, titling and signing it, the Found object became art.

    Sixteen replicas were commissioned from Duchamp in the 1950s and 1960s and made to his approval.

    It’s a urinal that is “repositioned”, I would guess that there are closer to 10,000 or so replicas, maybe more if it was popular enough urinal of the time. But I guess those weren’t to his approval.

  62. @Bardon Kaldian

    ‘…Among so many nudes, this is perhaps one of the very few really arousing, inducing in a male mind a wish to screw a model …’

    I would broaden your horizons, but the thread would get decidedly randy.

    In any case, I don’t suppose Manet is actually bad — it’s just that his prominence owes more to the place he occupies in the narrative than to anything inherent in his paintings.

    • Agree: dfordoom
  63. @Anon

    Thanks Anon 166. – What you don’t – touch – are the transgressions of the poem/the poet to the cruel, to suffering, the wounds and the ugliness while talking about beauty****. And the way in which the poem is all-encompassing, turning humans into animals and a definitely rather ugly and second-rate torso of a sculpture into something that touches the stars at the same time. – He embraces existence in its entirety – the low and the high, the terrible and the beautiful, ecstasy and suffering, the stone and life. – That’s rare – and beautifully crafted (in the German original more so than in the translation).

    Well, they’ll stone you when you’re trying to be so good
    They’ll stone you just like they said they would
    But I would not feel so all alone
    Everybody must get stoned

    **** this is the core of the poem – and it has nothing to do with art, but rather with – artlessness. This statue he is talking about does not mean much to the greater public. That’s why I think that Rilke was right in not talking about the torso itself – which one it was, where it stood in the Louvre, what others thought about it etc. He could thus have quite easily created a Rilke-object in the art world, but he went for the imaginative moment (and power) in his poem of a – (radiating) transgression.

  64. @The Wild Geese Howard

    I bought an old book about Ted Kautzky, who started out as an architectural illustrator and branched out into “fine art”. Amazing stuff. I don’t think anyone will ever look at Kautzky’s work and think, “Meh, I could do that.”

  65. Lagertha says:

    Art, anything from the 2nd half of the 20th century is dead – all garbage – just let dogs shit on it. Most men around Georgia, had no talent – they “rode her.”

    It was all scam shit. The good ones, like Georgia, knew the Cabal was using artists. She never had kids bc she married the shit, Stieglitz..maybe he had a big cock – he made her have an abortion. What kind of disgusting man aborts the baby he supposedly loves of the woman who can carry this fetus to birth?!!!!!!!

    • Replies: @Dieter Kief
  66. @Lagertha

    Since you seem to be in the mood – have you ever come across John Updike’s art-world novel Seek my Face?

    I love the Ghost Ranch and O’Keeffe’s collection of bones and skulls and rattle-snake skeletons.

    • Replies: @Lagertha
  67. Lagertha says:
    @Dieter Kief

    Georgia is my favorite of all painters. I revere her. And, she was like me: no evil. All her bones, horns and flowers – vaginas, was all projection of weak people who are unhappy.

    She was a uniquely happy person who eschewed politics. The only personal comment (might as well say it on an international forum) I would make, is that she was dismayed that she had that abortion. She regretted not having children. She did not hold Alfred responsible to have coerced her to have the abortion, but she never slept in the same room with him, ever again.

  68. @Lagertha

    Alfred Stieglitz was a man of many accomplishments. Don’t know why he did not want to have a kid.
    Your Georgia O’Keeffe interpretation is unique, I’ll think that over.
    (Strangely enough, I never had the impression that her paintings would emanate any kind of unhappiness.)
    If she had done nothing but lived in the Ghost Ranch in the (absolutely tasteful) way she did, she might still be a major figure of US cultural history – and what a pleasure, that John Leongard did visit her two times to take these almost perfect photographs:

    I highly recommended the German hardcover (there is a smaller softcover edition, too) edition of the book with John Loengard’s Ghost Ranch photos by Schirmer and Mosel Verlag – the printing quality is top-notch.

  69. Lagertha says:

    this is true – leave Georgia alone!

  70. Lagertha says:

    Georgia always regretted that she did not bare her only child with a man(Stieglitz) , the only man in her life as Georgia, she, was considered plain; Alfred – he made her have the abortion. He was a f*cking womenizer in NYC. He was a creep.

    Fuck. I hate Alfred; and how his cock insecurities lead to the most talented female artist 0f the American (shit yeah…) 20th world to be receded to the canyons of NM…to the memory of art classes about bones and stuff.

    And, she stayed at Ghost Ranch; 3000+ miles away of slimy and reptilian NYC; until she died. Wake the FUCK UP!, people!

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