Wednesday, April 20, 2005

art and life

I am reading the de Kooning biography, and it describes the close-knit artist community in 1930s New York. At that time modernist artists -- Rothko, de Kooning, Gorky -- were not selling any work, no one was famous, and there was little bitter enmity and competition among the artists (so the authors claim). And I think back to my idyllic view of New York, before I moved here. I thought that there would be a lively, supportive artist community, that I would find the camaraderie of like-minded individuals, all of us dedicated to the artist life. And then, the first summer I lived here, I was invited to the MacDowell Colony. And there were many well-known and very successful artists there in residence; I felt shocked, intimidated, and surprised that I was there at all. And what really took me aback was the intense competitiveness, the sniping, the bitterness among many of the composers there (the "famous" ones). And while I made some very nice acquaintance with other painters and writers, once we all returned to our city lives (most of the people there were from NYC) the bonds broke down; everyone was too busy hustling and trying to pay rent and trying to "network." I don't think there is an enviable world for artists now. Everyone is obsessed with "making it" and being famous and finding a fancy gallery or getting a big commission. New York has become too expensive. Art has become too much of a business. So I have become a bit of a hermit, content to ply my own "trade" and hope that it will be appreciated.

de Kooning: SEATED WOMAN

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