Nothing makes me feel like a lousy artist more than having to write an artist’s statement.
The artist’s statement. Repository of high-falutin’ words and lofty ideals. In a world of artists commenting on societal norms, philosophizing on humanity, reflecting on the fragility of life and the inevitability of death, am I the only one who doesn’t have quite so much to say, and who wants to say it simply?
I’m curious as to how long the artist’s statement has been the looming nemesis of the working artist. Did the old masters agonize over expressing their motivations in words, when the brush was the voice of their choosing?
Just got back from wiki-ing the term “artist’s statement.” Like I thought (are we accepting Wikipedia as a reliable information source?), the artist’s statement is a comparatively recent phenomenon and can have a negative effect on art. And here I thought it just had a negative effect on me the artist!
Here’s the quote (emphasis mine): When an artist is required to use text to explain his or her artwork it could be seen as an argument for the language of art being inferior or unable to convey those ideas: using text to help the viewer understand the artwork makes a statement that the artwork is unable to be understood. Attribution theory predicts that if a person is told long enough that they are unable to interpret or perceive art that they will begin to believe and agree.
I want to be articulate when I am speaking of my work, and this does require some insight into my motivation and processes. But I am excusing myself from statement oneupmanship – be as highbrow as you wish. My statement will remain uncomplicated and fresh – as is my art.
In looking at different artists’ statements, I find it a little easier to go my own way when required to write my own. There is such a variety – some artists speak mystically of the content of their work while others focus on details of the creation process. Do you have an artist’s statement? What does it say?
Note: When required to write an artist’s statement, it is a good idea to write with your intended audience in mind. But whether writing for the average person or Classy ArtSnob Gallery Curator, whether verbose or succinct, your statement must remain an honest advocate of you and your art.