Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Is the desire for immortality still alive? Is that what adrenaline-junky-athletes are really chasing when they skydive or rock climb without safety harnesses? Who was the last artist to pursue immortality rather than financial success? Does an artist have to give-up one to have the other?

I hold a theory of life that I have named the “trade-off theory”. In contemporary pop-culture terms, it’s not much different than Seinfeld’s “Even Steven” approach to life. While I don’t believe I can toss a twenty dollar bill out the window and find a replacement in my old jacket pocket; I do trust that if life gets really rough, then something better must be ready to payoff for me. Maybe it’s not just a “trade-off theory”, perhaps it’s really a masquerade for hope.

Much like every artist, I’m always on the lookout for a great exhibition opportunity, gallery representation or patron. But is the search for financial stability the answer to artistic fulfillment? Money can obviously pave the road to happiness, but can it force you on the journey? Doubtful. Otherwise, the vast majority of actively-exhibiting artists would not wait until the last few weeks and days before a show to actually prepare. So there must be something else that motivates artists to greatness. I’ve mentioned before the need for a muse and the ability to place ones’ self in inspirational situations; but there is something more that motivates my choices for painting genre. Immortality.

Out of the three above mentioned ways of achieving financial success (exhibiting, representation and patrons); I am inclined to believe that patrons have the greatest long-term influence over the art world and it’s respective history. Galleries basically developed from salons which were secular bastardizations of Renaissance Papal Patronage (think of combining the traditional art academies with the ancient church tradition of artistic commissions); the saving grace in all these instances were collectors or patrons. Renaissance artists had the Medici family to keep them employed when the current Pope would smolder into a temper-tantrum. The Impressionists had Gustave Caillebotte and Durand-Ruel when critics were flabbergasted at their technique. Modern Art has boasted some of the more prominent examples of patronage with collectors such as Peggy Guggenheim and Betty Parsons among its ranks.

If patrons are the path to success, what is the ultimate goal in art? A combination of ideas that complete the inner-mind of the artist must align in order that the work is made; when the work is pure then the process is rediscovered with every act of creation and the justification for sacrifice is ultimately judged in history.

I view sacrifice of sales for relevant painting subjects as a trade-off for inclusion in art history, then again maybe it's just hope.– DN

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