What it Means to be an Artist Today

One of the secrets to being a famous artist is to become a household name and that means, being popular and having a big audience, easier said than done. One method is to be wholeheartedly committed to your work; producing work so meaningful and made with superior technical skills, so deeply true and heartfelt that dealers, buyers and the wider world will bond with it on a deep level. They will recognize your unique vision of the world, which is also one they understand in some way. However it’s not enough to work like our great artists such as, Anselm Kiefer, Banksy, or Lucian Freud, you have to find what makes you as unique a visionary as they.

Being an artist means dedicating every minute to your creative streak, looking for people to support you, give you a place to sleep and work and hopefully help pay for supplies. Some galleries will do this, have a program where they support young artists. Join an artists’ coop because these communal living and working environments are the perfect spawning grounds. Spend time with other artists and exchange opinions, argue, exercise together, drink together just be together.

Today artists do not have the social structure set up as it was in the past where artists gathered at the local bar, or park or cafe and talked, argued and spurred one another on to greater heights. This is what art was in the 1900s, artists talking to one another. It was not about copying but about growth about sharing political views and techniques and critiquing works of one’s friends. Albissola Marina, Liguria Italy (as well as, Vallauris, Provence) was one of those places in fact, Lucio Fontana made it his ceramic center together with Wilfred Lam, Asger Jorn, Roberto Crippa, Manzoni, Eugenio Montale and Salvatore Quasimodo.

Lucio Fontana, Pablo Picasso and the Cobra group, Albissola. '50s

Lucio Fontana, Pablo Picasso and the Cobra group, Albissola. ’50s

The Sixties were the golden years at Albissola. Everyone lived here, artists from all over the world went to this small town on the Ligurian sea. It was normal to see grand masters together with emerging young artists. Everyone in the town had a great love for the artists in fact, at the Trattoria Pescetto, there is still today a painting with everyone’s portrait. Painters, poets, and sculptors all went to Albissola, Sassu, Scanavino, Grassi, Ungaretti were part of the group as well. This town breathed art and everyone was attracted to it for that reason. It was completely normal to be a part of the elite without realizing that it really was elite. Everyone had fun, ate together along the seashore, drinking espresso at the bars; it was a real live exchange between artists and the town. In fact, today the artists’ walkway is still maintained, one where you can walk on a work of Fontana and many more.

Emilio Scanavino

Emilio Scanavino

This is where Emilio Scanavino and Giuseppe Capogrossi found fertile land for their informal works, the abstract expressionism of the Cobra Group, the Cuban Surrealism of Wilfredo Lam, the nuclear works of Enrico Baj and Sergio Dangelo, the pop condensations of Mario Rossello and Aurelio Caminati, the scenographic forms of Emanele Luzzati, the Surreal by Saba Telli and the infinite paths of experimentation that occurred in the little city. This was also an important architectural center thanks to the research conducted by Giambattista De Salvo, author of numerous urban design elements in Savona and other cities.

Enrico Baj

Enrico Baj

Giuseppe Capogrossi

Giuseppe Capogrossi

Being an artist is not the most practical career choice to make. It’s highly unpredictable, and you need a certain degree of luck to be able to break through. Choosing to be an artist seems like voluntary poverty. And in these hard economic times we are facing today, being an artist seems even more impractical, if not a stupid career path to take. It takes luck, and above all, persistence. Artists need to approach galleries and work towards representation in major shows and art fairs where galleries participate. For serious artists, this traditional approach alla Leo Castelli is still the best route to take.

Lucio Fontana's ceramic wall series

Lucio Fontana’s ceramic wall series

Of course, the other side of the coin is the sell-out. As an artist, you face judgment if you do one of three things as an alternative to starving and working and living in poverty. Such as, choosing a more practical career making art your hobby or side-job; changing your artistic principles by making arts and crafts to bring in money or becoming a copyrighter, editor, greeting card designer for Hallmark or, get lucky enough to make big bucks doing what you love. Richness of friends, community and others supporting your direction is the greatest wealth and aid for an artist to become successful thereby helping more, inspiring more and accomplishing more than the unsuccessful artist. In order to do that, cooperation is key; what many individuals can accomplish while locking arms together, is much greater than the individual.

Lucio Fontana's ceramic art

Lucio Fontana’s ceramic art


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