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Every day that I sculpt I have accidents that happen.  Occasionally a sculpture will leap off my worktable and break into several pieces and - since I’m working with clay that is made out of paper and dries in the air - things happen to the sculpture all during the creating process.   For instance, once the sculpture is started and I add clay to a certain area, that new wet clay is placed onto the existing dry clay and while it is drying,  moves portions of the sculpture around.

When I first started working with this material, I tried to correct these “accidental” rearrangements of my sculpture but now I will consider these accidents to see if they actually help the design or make it unique in some way.  I have decided that the accidents are sometimes a form of unique guidance and serendipity and welcome many of those accidents as part of my creative process.

Many artists today and throughout history knew accidents were often a good component in helping them create their works.  Of course some accidents will just feel like a catastrophe!

me with the finished sculpture,
Okaga, the South Wind.  Later that same
day while working on smoothing out
the last few areas, this sculpture fell
off the back of this table and all its
legs broke; some in two places!

What do you think?  Do you believe that art doesn’t “just happen” because of perfect planning and perfect control - it also happens by seemingly random accidents sprinkled in?

Check out the quotes below (thanks to art-quotes.com) from artists regarding accidents in their work.  Which is your favorite?

It’s time for me to get to work.  I hope your (and my) art accidents are all good ones today.

~Alex

All painting is an accident. But it’s also not an accident, because one must select what part of the accident one chooses to preserve. (Francis Bacon)

It’s the nasty and the accident that form the foundation for elegance that comes later. (Nick Bantock)

In art, there is one thing which does not receive sufficient attention. The element which is left to the human will is not nearly so large as people think. (Charles Baudelaire)

U2 is sort of song writing by accident really. We don’t really know what we’re doing and when we do, it doesn’t seem to help. (Bono)

Oops! I wonder how that blob of paint turned up in the sky? – that must be how many a bird ‘happened’ in a landscape and how extra leaves were added to overhanging branches. (Jeane Duffey)

Accident is veiled necessity. (Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach)

Accident is design / And design is accident / In a cloud of unknowing. (T. S. Eliot)

There are many accidents that are nothing but accidents – and forget it. But there are some that were brought about only because you are the person you are… you have the wherewithal, intelligence, and energy to recognize it and do something with it. (Helen Frankenthaler)

We try not to have ideas, preferring accidents. To create, you must empty yourself of every thought. (Gilbert George)

It may have been accidental but you knew enough to let this alone. The intelligent painter is always making use of accidents. (Charles Hawthorne)

The most persistent principles in the universe are accident and error. (Frank Herbert)

I have meant what I have done. Or – I have often meant what I have done. Or – I have sometimes meant what I have done. Or – I have tried to mean what I was doing. (Jasper Johns)

A creative train of thought is set off by: the unexpected, the unknown, the accidental, the disorderly, the absurd, the impossible. (Asger Jorn)

We never learned how to solve problems, create effects, get concrete results. So we hope for, and rely on fortuitous accidents. What we do by accident we call ‘creative.’ (Brian Knowles)

You need accidents, otherwise it is fake. (Sotirios Kotoulas)

Experiment by applying a few strokes suggesting the subject and see what happens… develop the piece from interesting accidents. (Jean-Francis Le Saint)

It was accidental before but now it’s become my method. (Hui Lin Liu)

At first laying down, as a fact fundamental, / That nothing with God can be accidental. (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

I throw down the gauntlet to chance. For example, I prepare the ground for a picture by cleaning my brush over the canvas. Spilling a little turpentine can also be helpful. (Joan Miro)

Surprises are the joy of living. Surprises directly touch the soul. Good surprises energize and bad surprises teach. (Alev Oguz)

Accidents, try to change them – it’s impossible. The accidental reveals man. (Pablo Picasso)

When a person is prepared to receive something, a series of accidents takes place. (Irving Sandler)

Every brushstroke has a certain tension, a certain nervousness. Every brushstroke is, in a sense, some kind of accident. (Raphael Soyer)

As soon as you accept the accidental effects, they are no longer accidents. They are necessity – the part of yourself that you could not expect or design beforehand. Thus the realm of your creativity grows wider. (Kazuaki Tanahashi)

The unforseen event, the ‘accident,’ the unexpected all play a very large part in my creative play. I prefer to let the materials suggest the direction of a work. (Burnell Yow!)

June 23, 2014
23Jun
2014

It’s Monday, June 23 and I have dedicated myself to writing a blog entry every day.

I do not consider my life to be what anyone would describe as exciting so this could be the most incredibly boring blog ever if I just talked about my life.  What I think is important is to connect with other artists. 

 

Maybe other artists are also feeling that their life is also not incredibly interesting but they are nevertheless also developing their art career and are also learning more about how professional artists structure their days from day to day.

 

I don’t want this blog to be just a one way dialogue and want to hear from other artists (and any creative business person/entrepreneur) too so we all can learn from one another. 

 

What works in your life?  You are always learning how to manage life and create the best art you can…just like me.  It isn’t easy.

 

So that is what I will talk about - each day what I do to create art and make what I do better and the other adventures into art that I embark on and the other things that just happen that enhance or interfere with that.

 

I have been refreshing my art education since the beginning of the year.  I spend a portion of the beginning and/or end of the day learning something about art and artists through history.  This must come up (art history) just with the every day sketching I have been doing…I have been involved in the study of values and perspective, for instance – and how can the study of value and perspective not lead me to learning more about da Vinci?   

 

I have been trying to shore up the holes in my art education in other ways – for example, I have been learning more about oil painting.  You can’t paint well if you can’t draw well…I think. 

 

I want to paint some scenes from around our property to frame and hang in the living room which is currently being remodeled a bit to make it more of a gallery space for my sculpture.  So I have been on Stapleton Kearns blog and he is fantastically educational not just about painting but about art history.

 

These things and more (to be shared in future posts) have been important inroads to keeping me motivated to sculpt more and to always think of myself and my work as truly a professional endeavor. 

 

I hope to hear from anyone out there, all of you artist/entrepreneurs.  What do you do every day?  Do you try to continually educate yourself about art and what is it you do to keep your work it’s best and to keep your muse alive?

10 Paradoxical Traits Of Creative People

Creative people are humble and proud. Creative people tend to be both extroverted and introverted. Creative people are rebellious and conservative. How creative are you?

 By: 
I frequently find myself thinking about whether I am an artist or an entrepreneur.

It is safe to say that more and more entrepreneurs are artists, and artists of all kinds are entrepreneurs. And the trend is only on the rise as all things (art, science, technology, business, culture, spirituality) are increasingly converging.

Creativity is the common theme that drives both entrepreneurs and artists alike. But creative people are often also paradoxical.

Over this past Labor Day weekend, I found myself reading excerpts from distinguished professor of psychology and management Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s (pronounced me-HIGH chick-sent-me-HIGH-ee) seminal book Creativity: The Work and Lives of 91 Eminent People (HarperCollins, 1996).

He writes:

“I have devoted 30 years of research to how creative people live and work, to make more understandable the mysterious process by which they come up with new ideas and new things. If I had to express in one word what makes their personalities different from others, it’s complexity. They show tendencies of thought and action that in most people are segregated. They contain contradictory extremes; instead of being an individual, each of them is a multitude.”

Mihaly describes ten traits often contradictory in nature, that are frequently present in creative people.  In Creativity, Mihaly outlines these:

1.  Creative people have a great deal of physical energy, but they’re also often quiet and at rest

They work long hours, with great concentration, while projecting an aura of freshness and enthusiasm.

2.  Creative people tend to be smart yet naive at the same time.

“It involves fluency, or the ability to generate a great quantity of ideas; flexibility, or the ability to switch from one perspective to another; and originality in picking unusual associations of ideas. These are the dimensions of thinking that most creativity tests measure and that most workshops try to enhance.”

3. Creative people combine playfulness and discipline, or responsibility and irresponsibility.

But this playfulness doesn’t go very far without its antithesis, a quality of doggedness, endurance, and perseverance.

“Despite the carefree air that many creative people affect, most of them work late into the night and persist when less driven individuals would not. Vasari wrote in 1550 that when Renaissance painter Paolo Uccello was working out the laws of visual perspective, he would walk back and forth all night, muttering to himself: “What a beautiful thing is this perspective!” while his wife called him back to bed with no success.”

4.  Creative people alternate between imagination and fantasy, and a rooted sense of reality.

Great art and great science involve a leap of imagination into a world that is different from the present.

5. Creative people tend to be both extroverted and introverted.

We’re usually one or the other, either preferring to be in the thick of crowds or sitting on the sidelines and observing the passing show. Creative individuals, on the other hand, seem to exhibit both traits simultaneously.

6. Creative people are humble and proud at the same time.

It is remarkable to meet a famous person who you expect to be arrogant or supercilious, only to encounter self-deprecation and shyness instead.

7. Creative people, to an extent, escape rigid gender role stereotyping.

When tests of masculinity and femininity are given to young people, over and over one finds that creative and talented girls are more dominant and tough than other girls, and creative boys are more sensitive and less aggressive than their male peers.

8. Creative people are both rebellious and conservative.

It is impossible to be creative without having first internalized an area of culture. So it’s difficult to see how a person can be creative without being both traditional and conservative and at the same time rebellious and iconoclastic.

9.Most creative people are very passionate about their work, yet they can be extremely objective about it as well.

Without the passion, we soon lose interest in a difficult task. Yet without being objective about it, our work is not very good and lacks credibility. Here is how the historian Natalie Davis puts it:

“I think it is very important to find a way to be detached from what you write, so that you can’t be so identified with your work that you can’t accept criticism and response, and that is the danger of having as much affect as I do. But I am aware of that and of when I think it is particularly important to detach oneself from the work, and that is something where age really does help.”

10. Creative people’s openness and sensitivity often exposes them to suffering and pain, yet also to a great deal of enjoyment.

“Perhaps the most important quality, the one that is most consistently present in all creative individuals, is the ability to enjoy the process of creation for its own sake. Without this trait, poets would give up striving for perfection and would write commercial jingles, economists would work for banks where they would earn at least twice as much as they do at universities, and physicists would stop doing basic research and join industrial laboratories where the conditions are better and the expectations more predictable.”

Paradoxical or not, what I have learned most is that there is no formula for individual creation. As Mihay says, “creative individuals are remarkable for their ability to adapt to almost any situation and to make do with whatever is at hand to reach their goals.”  So, more than anything else, what it takes to be creative is resourcefulness and the courage not to give up.

 The Oglala Lakota tribe has many stories about the wind and this one is my favorite.  Wind is an almost constant companion out here on the Colorado prairie and it can change directions many times in one day – causing clouds and weather to circle us much of the time so that no rain or snow will fall.  We can see it happening from a distance all around us and feel the wind in a big way - but sometimes wind is the only thing that happens.  Seeing the rain and clouds and rainbows that form around us because the wind can’t seem to decide on one way to blow for long - is one of the most beautiful things about where we live.  The Lakota Winds series is meant to commemorate that aspect of our environment.  It is a beautiful way of explaining why there are the seasons of the year and the cycles of the warming, flowering and freezing of the earth.

Before the creation of the world the South wind (Okaga), the North wind (Yata), the West wind (Eya), and the East wind (Yanpa) dwelt together in the far north in the land of the ghosts.  They were brothers.  The North wind, the oldest, was always cold and stern.  The West wind, next to the oldest, was always strong and noisy.  The East wind, the third, was always cross and disagreeable.  The South wind, the next to the youngest, was always pleasant.  With them dwelt a little brother, the whirlwind, (Yumni) who was always full of fun and frolic.

The North wind was a great hunter and delighted in killing things.  The South wind took pleasure in making things.  The West wind was a helper of his brother, the South wind, and sometimes he helped his brother, the North wind.  The East wind was lazy and good for nothing.  The little whirlwind never had anything to do, so he played all the time and danced and made sport for his brothers.

After a long time, a beautiful being fell from the stars.  Her hair was like the light and her dress was red and green and white and blue, and all the colors, and she had decorations and ornaments of all colors.  As she was falling, she met the five brothers and begged them to give her some place to rest.  They took pity on her and invited her into their tipi.  When she came in the tipi, everything was bright and pleasant and all were happy, so all the four brothers wanted to marry her.  Each asked her to be his woman.

She told them that she was please with their tipi and would be the woman of the one who did that which pleased her the most.  So the North wind went hunting and brought her his game; but everything he brought turned to ice as soon as he laid it before her, and the tipi was dark and cold and dreary.

Then the West wind brought his drum and sang and danced before her, but he made so much noise and disturbed things so much that the tipi fell down and she had hard work to raise it again.

Then the East wind sat down by her and talked to her so foolishly that she felt like crying.

Then the South wind made beautiful things for her.  She was happy and the tipi was warm and bright.  She said that she would be the South wind’s woman.  This made the North wind very angry for he claimed that it was his right as the oldest, to have the beautiful being.  But the South wind would not give her up.  The North wind and South wind quarreled all the time about her and finally the South wind told his woman that they would go away so that they might live in peace.  They started, but the North wind tried to steal her.  When she found what the North wind was trying to do, she took off her dress, spread it out, and got under it to hide.  When North wind came to the dress he thought that he had found the beautiful being and he embraced it, but everything on it grew hard and cold and icy.  He heard the South wind coming and he fled to his tipi.  The South wind found only a cold hard thing like his woman’s dress but he could not find the woman so he went back to look for her.  When he had gone, the North wind came again and said to the woman, “I know you are under this dress and I am coming there also.”  So he went to the edge of the dress, but the woman spread it out farther that way.  Then he went to the edge at another place and she spread that side out.  He kept going from place to place and she kept spreading her dress wider and wider until it became so wide that there was no end or side left.

Then he heard the South wind coming again and he ran to his tipi.  When the South wind came again he examined the dress and found that it was truly his woman’s dress and then he knew that the North wind had embraced it.  He called loudly for his woman and she answered that she was under the dress and then he knew that the North wind had embraced it.  He called again for his woman and she answered him that she was under the dress, but that she had stretched it so wide to keep away from the North wind, that there was neither a side or an end to it, so she could not get out from under it.  Then the South wind followed on the trail of the North wind until he came to the tipi where he found him boasting to the other brothers of what he had done.

The South wind went in and reproached his brother.  They quarreled and finally fought and the North wind was about to conquer when the West wind rushed in to help the South wind and they conquered the North wind.  They could not kill him so they bound his feet and hands and left him in the tipi.  The other brothers all sided with the South wind and determined to live no longer with the North wind.  So the West wind went to live where the sun sets, the East wind where the sun rises, the South wind went opposite the tipi of the North wind far as he could go.

The little whirlwind was too small to have a tipi of his own, so he lived with the South wind the most of the time, but part of the time he was to live with the West wind.  The East wind was so lazy and disagreeable that he would not even visit him.

When they were leaving the North wind, he defied them all and told them that he would forever combat them, that he would break his bonds and go on the warpath against each of them.  He said to the South wind, “I know where your woman is.  I know what covers her and hides her.  When I loosen by bonds I will go and try to get her.  I have destroyed the beauty of her dress.  If I do not get her I will again destroy its beauty.  I will fight you forever for her.”

The south wind came again to his woman’s frozen dress.  He called her and she answered, but she could not come from under it, neither cold he go below it for it was spread so wide that there was no end to it.  He journeyed to his brothers’ tipi.  They came and helped him; they warmed the dress, but it was still ugly and like a dead thing.  When his woman found that he was warming her dress, she thrust bright ornaments through it and it was again beautiful with green and red and blue and all colors.

So the three brothers, the South wind, the West wind, and the East wind continued to warm the dress, but the East wind was so lazy that he only worked occasionally in the evening.  Little Whirlwind was too small to do much work but he danced about over the dress and threw things in the air and tried to keep the South wind from grieving over his loss.  The South wind grew weary with grief and work and went to his tipi to sleep and left only the West wind to guard the dress.

Then the North wind freed himself and came.  He and the West wind fought furiously and the North wind was about to conquer and had destroyed all the ornaments on the dress and made it hard and cold.  When the North wind came, little Whirlwind sled to South wind’s tipi to tell him.  He found South wind asleep and could not wake him.  He tried and tried again and again, but could not wake him, so he ran all the way to the tipi of East wind who was sitting looking on at the fight between his brothers, intending to take sides with the one who won.  Little Whirlwind persuaded East wind to go with him and wake South wind.

When South wind was told what had happened he came in a great rage to the help of his brother, the West wind.  They fought all over the dress and finally North wind was driven back to his tipi, but he would slip away at night and embrace the dress and make it hard and cold until he was bound again.  Then the South wind and West wind had to warm the dress again and the woman under the dress had to push the ornaments through it again.  Thus began the warfare between the brothers which continues to the present time.

(this is a reprint of a post I made on my wordpress.com blog site on March 11th, 2013)

“Step High!” just got cast and colored with her patina – and she came out gorgeous!_MG_0766a_MG_0768a_MG_0769a_MG_0770_MG_0771_MG_0772_MG_0773

Step High!  She is the last horse of the first series.  I got the idea for the patina colors when Mark and I were driving to Ketchum last November on the way to see one of our (grown up) children for Thanksgiving.  We were driving by a part of Idaho were there are old lava fields and there was a plant growing in there that looked like it might have been a sage but had branches the color of dogwood branches – sort of a reddish purple eggplant kind of color and then the sage green of the leaves above – so there was this striking color combination of the black lava dirt the purpley red color and the sage green and I thought – I wonder if my patineur could do that maybe with some black veining running through it.  I know I freak her out every time I tell her what I want a patina to be – but she always tries to give me what I have in my head (no easy task) and does just a wonderful job!  Next Step High! will get a nice black marble base and then she will be ready to be previewed for the very first time at Rogoway Turquoise Tortoise Gallery for the art show on the 20th of April!

RogowayShow

(this post is a re-print of a post made on my wordpress.com blog on March 6th, 2013)

What could be better than investing in art and receiving a tax deduction in the bargain?  Icing on the cake!  Right now my sculpture is at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum.  Founded in 1978, the museum is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to educating the community about the history and culture of Cheyenne Frontier Days from the event’s earliest inspiration to its present celebration.

Alex Alvis Sculpture at Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum now through April 14th!

On April 20th will be a fantastic show featuring a fantastic book just being released titled “Horse Sanctuary” a book by journalist Allison Milionis profiling thirteen sanctuaries that rescue and care for abandoned or mistreated equines, and in some cases, rehabilitate them for adoption or new careers.  There is a forward in the book written by Temple Grandin and the beautiful photography is by Karen Tweedy-Homes who will be at the show with me to sign the book and offer her framed and unframed photography to the lucky people who can come to the gallery on this day!  Mark and I will be there – of course, and all of my sculpture will be there available to you for the opportunity to, not only invest in some beautiful artwork and receive tax benefits, but help an organization that does such wonderful work on behalf of abused and neglected equines.  A portion of both my art and Karen’s will be donated to Equine Voices.

Alex Alvis Show in Tubac 2013

 

(this post is a reprint from my wordpress.com blog dated October 9th, 2012)

Cloud the StallionSo, my sculpture is going to be shown at the Cultural Arts Council of Estes Park for a month and it’s great to be included in this show because its all about wild horses.  A percentage of the purchase price of the art purchased at this show benefits the Cultural Arts Council of Estes Park which is a publicly supported 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to supporting all disciplines of art in the greater Estes Valley, providing an affordable cost visual and performing arts programming year round, and acting as a vital information and support resource for the arts community (similar to a “Chamber for the Arts”) for the greater Estes Valley.  All the money that is collected as donations during this show will go to support The Cloud Foundation, named after the wild stallion you see pictured here.  Isn’t he beautiful?  He is actually a very well known wild horse and has starred in several films produced by Ginger Kathrens.  His family (yes wild horses exist in families just like us) has been disrupted by the “management” of the Bureau of Land Management for many years now.

This cause is something I support as I have time to support it; I sculpt wild horses, speak to wild horse advocacy issues in my blog, talk a bit about it on my website, send letters and make phone calls to Washington…I don’t feel that it is enough, but if every one does what they have time to do, it can make a big difference for these beautiful animals that are a cherished part of our world. 

I sure am excited to be included in this show!

Wild Horses, Wild Lands: Art Show and Evening with Cloud and Other Wild Horses

“An Evening With Cloud and Other Wild Horses”
Thursday October 11, 2012, 6:30-8:00 pm
Estes Park Resort (formerly Lake Shore Lodge)
1701 Big Thompson Ave in Estes Park
Ginger Kathrens, Emmy Award-winning film-maker and Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation, will give a presentation.  Don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about her life with the young wild palomino colt she named Cloud, the Pryor Wild Horse Herd, and her fight to protect our American wild horses.
Free-will Donations accepted to benefit the Cloud Foundation

Mica and other mustangs will be available to meet before Ginger’s talk

New! Mica and other mustangs will be available for a meet and greet in front of the resort starting at 5:30pm before the talk.
Art Show at the Cultural Arts Council of Estes Park
423 W. Elkhorn Ave., Estes Park, Colorado
• October 12 – November 11, “Wild Horses – Wild Lands”
Features 2 and 3 dimensional art works reflecting the majesty and beauty of America’s wild horses. Learn about the Cloud Foundation, dedicated to the preservation of wild horses on our public lands, and the protection of Cloud’s herd in the Arrowhead Mountains of Montana. Opening Reception: 10/12/12   5 to 8 PM.  Public Invited. Free.
and, here is another article that I found yesterday that I wanted to reprint from the Denver Post here:

Keegan: Dignity for wild horses

By Teresa Keegan The Denver Post

Posted: DenverPost.com

Would that I could unleash the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse on the likes of Tom Davis.

He’s the Colorado livestock hauler who’s been buying wild horses from the Bureau of Land Management at ten bucks a head, less than I spend on lunch at Panera’s. Although he’s supposed to be finding “good homes” for the animals, wild horse advocates are concerned that he’s instead shipping them off for slaughter.

Given that he’s purchased at least 1,700 horses since 2009, I join the advocates in their skepticism. I doubt there are that many “good homes” for unwanted children, let alone 1,200-pound untrained animals.

His remark, as quoted in a recent Denver Post article, sets off further alarm: “Hell, some of the finest meat you will ever eat is a fat yearling colt.”

That comment turns my stomach. But why? I’m not a vegetarian. It’s surely the height of hypocrisy to eat meat and wear leather and yet decry the killing and eating of horses. Why should chickens, fish and cows be fair game for my palate but not the equine species?

Reason one: I’m a lifelong horse nut. And I have precedent for my feelings dating back to antiquity. Examples abound of horse worship in the ancient world. The emperor Caligula so adored his stallion Incinatus that he built for him a marble stable, fed him oats mixed with gold flakes and tried to make him a senator.

Alexander the Great named a city after his legendary steed, Bucephalus. Mongolians have revered ponies for centuries, so much so that horses outnumber people in their country. A horseless Genghis Khan would not have gone far.

Reason two: Horses are not merely livestock. They’ve been with us for thousands of years and have likely done more to change the course of human history than any other domesticated animal. They’ve carried soldiers into battle, bleeding and dying in wars not of their making. They’ve pulled plows, drawn wagons and delivered the mail. Riderless horses have accompanied our presidents to their final resting place.

Reason three: Evolving standards of decency. People are animals, too. There once were and may still be tribes who found the flesh of their fellow humans lip-smackingly delicious, but most people now recoil in horrified disgust from Hannibal the Cannibal. In America, we don’t eat each other. Nobody’s making Soylent Green. We’ve also added dogs and cats to the “forbidden foods” list. I say expand that category to include horses.

Now, before every farmer and rancher in the not-so-wild West writes in to excoriate me for my sentimental city-girl squeamishness, I understand there are too many wild horses and too few homes for them. Not many people can take on the enormous expenditure of time, work and money involved in owning a horse. There’s much truth to the old saying: if you want to make a small fortune in horses, start with a large fortune.

The BLM simply doesn’t have the resources to continue keeping excess horses in taxpayer-funded holding pens. I understand they can’t all be saved, as regrettable as that may be. But must we send such magnificent creatures to their deaths without even a blindfold and cigarette? Surely these fiery steeds deserve better than an ignominious death on the slaughterhouse floor.

One alternative: Let them be killed humanely in a solemn ceremony, complete with banners, bugles and flowery speeches to see them off on their last journey. Let their bodies be cremated and the ashes scattered over the plains where they once ran free.

Now that is a fitting end for these noble beasts who have served us so long and so well.

Behold a pale horse.

~Teresa Keegan lives in East Denver and works in the Denver district court system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

(this is a reprint from my WordPress.com blog dated October 5th, 2012)

I check in on the Sylvia White Gallery blog from time to time and I just had to share this (thanks Sylvia) – for anyone who knows and loves an artist – this is for you :)

12 Step Recovery Program for Artists

Sylvia WhiteSeptember 19, 2012
1.  Admit that you are powerless over your ARTmaking, and it is the only thing that makes your life manageable.

Many artists describe the feelings they get from making art as an almost spiritual or sexual experience, feeling a complete and total sense of happiness and being at one with the world. Much like the feeling an athlete gets from hitting the ball in the sweet spot. But, instead of it being a fleeting moment, it is a lasting sense of satisfaction and contentment. It is what keeps them the sane, wonderful people we love.

2. Believe that ART is a Power, greater than yourself, and can restore you to sanity. 

Making art is the way artists create order out of chaos. It is a personal order, that allows them to navigate their way through life. The most positive addiction. When you find yourself cranky or irritable, is it really just because you haven’t allowed yourself quiet time to work?

3.  Made a decision to turn yourself and your life over to ART.

The term “frustrated artist” didn’t come out of nowhere. Societal pressures, parental pressures, and sometimes our own need to succeed or fear of failure, keeps a lot of artists from ever realizing their dream. You can’t escape from it forever…eventually, the need to create will overpower whatever rational reasons you have developed to keep yourself from finding the time to make art. The sooner you accept it, the better.

4. Made a searching and fearless inventory of your ART skills.

There is nothing wrong with being a self taught artist. But, in the same way your vocabulary skills can improve communication skills, so can developing your technique as an artist. The beauty of creativity is it’s never ending quality. Making sure that you are constantly looking, learning and improving your skills as an artist (and that includes keeping up to date with technology) will ensure you are working up to your potential

5.  Admit to yourself and one other human being, the importance of ART in your life.

Artists are not capable of “controlling” their work hours. When you are “in the zone” your friends and family accuse you of being preoccupied and/or distant. But, it’s like a switch you can’t turn off. It creeps up on you when you least expect it, and never, ever when you summon it. You need to communicate this to the people in your life that are important to you so they can understand the importance of ART in your life and not take it personally when you are not “present.”

6.  Were entirely ready to allow ART to be an important part of your life, but not your entire life.

You may not always have the luxury to work on your art when you want to. Responsibilities of real life get in the way for most artists. But, you can learn to come up with tricks to ease back into a work schedule, when it is absolutely necessary. For example, working on 3-4 things simultaneously. When you get stuck on one, you can easily move into another. Other artists have described the technique of only leaving the studio for the day only when you know exactly what you next move on a particular painting will be when you comes back…something easy, that has already been planned and you won’t have to think about.

7.  Humbly promise never to ask anyone “What do you think of my work?”

Admit it. If you’re an artist, there is ALWAYS one question on your mind that you are dying to ask people…”what do you think of my work?” There is no doubt, that as an artist, getting feedback is important. If you’ve read my article Art is a Verb, not a Noun, you already know that I don’t believe any object an artist makes can be called ART until it is out in the real world and has real eyeballs looking at it. A painting that is stored in your garage or under your bed isn’t art until it has the experience of being seen. It is only logical then, to assume that once the work is out there, you want to know how people are reacting to it. But, artists need to be extremely careful how and when they submit to that urge of asking people about their work. Before you even contemplate asking the question, let’s take a moment to think about 3 things: Why are you asking this question? Of whom are you asking this question? How will the answer change your relationship to this person and/or your work?

8.  Made a list of all persons affected by your ARTmaking, and be willing to make amends to them.

There is no doubt that artists are wired differently than the rest of us. At times, living with an artist can be difficult. Learning to identify the strategies that will help you move seamlessly in and out of your “normal” life will benefit not only you, but all those around you. Send my article “If you are addicted…” to everyone you love.

9.  Made direct amends to such people, whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

It is true, that to some artists, their work is the most important thing in their life…more important than parents, spouse or even kids. It’s not a crime, or something you should feel guilty about. It is a part of who you are as a person…would you ever feel guilty about having blue eyes? But, remember, the rest of the world doesn’t work that way. If you find this is true for you (and not ALL artists do) you must come to grips with that reality yourself, but never admit it to your significant others.

10.  Continue to take personal inventory and realize you and your ART are not the only important things in the world.

Artists sometimes need to be forced to step outside their reality. Make sure you are able to separate the art making part of your life and the responsibilities of real life. As much as you may hate it, admit that you need a job, relationships, money, housing and the discipline to manage your art career so you can accomplish those things.

11. Sought through private time in your studio to improve your work, and devote the time necessary to just “look.”

The impulse that fuels creativity is nourished by stillness, time alone. That’s why so many artists find their most productive hours are in the wee hours, when everyone else is asleep. The lack of distractions, is a must for artists to be productive. Resting, thinking, meditating, looking…this is when the creative juices are most actively percolating. And, this is one of the most difficult aspects for non artists to understand.

12.  Having accomplished all of the above, tried to carry this message to other artists and those who love them.
Still Learning….
30May
2013

(this post is a reprint from my wordpress.com blog dated June 20th, 2012)

Okay – so I’m really supposed to be working on the certificates of authenticity that will accompany my sculpture to Turpin Gallery in Jackson, WY.

I came across an article stating that these documents are of little to no consequence and that artists should, in fact register with the Fine Art Registry to ensure that works are appropriately catalogued and if you want a certificate of authenticity to go along with your work after that, it can be provided on the site.

“What,….who?”

Now, I am dreadfully new to the public art world.  The sculpture community in Loveland is a land I sometimes visit, like today to order a box for shipping a sculpture.  Everybody knows EVERYBODY there and what they are doing and where they are from.  They look at me with polite amusement….because I am amusing in my naiveté… I have no doubt.  I have just started walking down the roads they have been travelling for a very long time, after all.

But I digress.  Fine Art Registry, or FAR.

They are all over the place on the internet.  But looking a little deeper I found this from http://www.fineartinvestigations.blogspot.com/p/theresa-franks-one-womans-quest-to.html and I think it’s worth republishing on the WWW for the rest of us artists and collectors of art as often as possible:

 THERESA FRANKS: One Woman’s Quest to Control the Art World

by “Michael Wilson”
You’re an artist and you want your portfolio neatly cataloged. What do you do? You call Theresa Franks, that’s what you do. You’re an art collector and you need to protect your valuables from fraud, and establish their provenance and authenticity? No problem. Just call Theresa Franks.
Franks is the founder of Phoenix based, fineartregistry.com, or “FAR”, an on-line art gallery that offers a patented tagging system which helps artists and collectors organize their inventory and, according to Franks, ensure its authenticity. The site’s trademarked moniker: “Helping Bring Order to the World of Art”.
The website, which operates under Franks’ umbrella company, That’s Life Publishing, Inc., is a vast maze of articles, forums and virtual art galleries which take you deep into the art world, or at least the art world according to Franks.
A large portion of the site is dedicated to its gallery, where sellers and buyers peruse through an assortment of artworks listed for sale. While the site offers mostly contemporary and decorative arts by relatively unknown artists, there’s also works for sale by famous artists such as Paul Klee, Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock, according to the website, complete with Franks’ patented registry tags and, in some cases, a downloadable certificate of authenticity. Sellers and buyers must first register with FAR in order to correspond with each other. FAR accepts no commission from the sales.
The tagging system has piqued the interest the world over. “We’re an international database,” says Franks. “We just made a deal with the Russians. They didn’t have the technology, so we represent them here.” One major collector I spoke with said he finds the tagging system very interesting. “I would consider using it,” he said. But he cautioned, “only if the company’s integrity is intact.” FAR names several partners including Artletics, a vintage sports artwork dealer; Masterpiece, a company that offers handmade canvases pre-equipped with FAR’s identification tags; Neglia Services, a jewelry replacement and evaluation service; and CLE 123, Inc., a legal education service company that offers on-line courses in Advocacy, Ethics, and Conflict-of-Interest studies. FAR’s articles range in topic from auction results to tips and strategies for collectors. Several content-generated articles are listed from other websites such as artprice.com, a members-only database of auction results. All make for a dizzying display to whatever suits your artistic fancy. “You can kind of get lost in all the articles,” laughs Franks, who pens most of them herself. In fact, when I called to interview her, she was “madly working” on yet another one.
Aside from being the site’s web administrator, Franks devotes much of her time investigating “art crime” cases, which are featured on her long list of advocacy and investigative-related articles on the FAR site. While Franks pens most of the articles herself, writers have included Noah Charney of the Association for Research into Crimes Against Art (ARCA) and John Daab, a fraud examiner. “We work closely with federal law enforcement,” says Franks. “We work to deter fraud.”
One case she’s helping the FBI investigate, says Franks, is that of famed cruise ship auction outfit, Park West Galleries, Inc., based in Michigan. Franks was referring to several class-action lawsuits against the gallery stemming from allegations the company sold fake prints by artist Salvador Dali.
The FAR website has become a cornucopia of information for the Park West case, where numerous articles appear, penned by Franks, as well as a litany of homemade amateur YouTube videos featuring Franks ranting about the company’s alleged misgivings.
The rants have been the subject of ire for Park West, who launched four defamation lawsuits against her; each for $46-Million. They were all dismissed. And despite ongoing litigation with Park West in U.S. District Court in Michigan, she speaks freely, without worry of consequence. “Park West is currently being investigated,” says Franks. But she admitted, “no indictments yet.”
In one video, dated, August 14, 2010, Franks even takes a shot at U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence P. Zatkoff, for vacating a jury’s verdict that awarded her $500,000 for various copyright infringement counterclaims against Park West. Zatkoff ordered a new trial scheduled for November, 2011. In the video, Franks lambasts Judge Zatkoff for being “biased from the beginning”. She boldly vows to investigate him, suggesting a “special relationship” exists between Judge Zatkoff and Park West Gallery’s lawyer, Rodger Young.
Her sharp tongue has garnered Franks some unwanted attention. During the trial, Franks and her attorneys were admonished for misconduct, and Judge Zatkoff threatened a directed verdict.
Franks also took creative pot shots at the trial, making abstract ink drawings and giving them titles such as “Strangled Justice”, “Jury Deliberation”, and “Wretched”. They are offered for sale on the FAR site, complete with her trademarked tags.
Another target of Franks has been art restorer and forensic expert Peter Paul Biro of Montreal, Canada. Biro discovered fingerprints on a purported Jackson Pollock painting, found at a thrift shop by retired trucker, Ms. Teri Horton. One of the fingerprints matched that of one found on a blue paint can in the Pollock studio in East Hampton, New York. The discovery was chronicled in a 2006 film documentary, “Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollock?”
Then, in a July 12, 2010 article in the New Yorker, reporter David Grann painted Biro as a forger and a criminal. For that, Franks credits herself. “We worked together for about a year on that story,” she said. “I supplied him with a good number of documents. So, he took that and ran with it.” She continues, “It was our (Fine Art Registry’s) investigation that really was the catalyst for that article.”
Grann’s article set off a bit of a media feeding frenzy, and it wasn’t long before other articles appeared, stating Biro was “a forger” and his family had done “jail time”. Biro launched a defamation lawsuit in U.S. District Court in New York against Grann, his employer Conde Nast, and Dan Rattiner. He sought $2-Million from each defendant.
Shortly after the suit was filed, many articles which portrayed Biro badly were retracted. Dan’s Papers published a public apology. Business Insider and the Daily Beast issued corrections. According to U.S. federal court records, Biro and defendant Rattiner have reached a settlement arrangement, the details and amount of which are undisclosed. The New Yorker trial is still pending.
But the target of choice for Franks has been cruise line art auctions, particularly in the Park West case, where the debate isn’t as much about whether the company sold fake Dali prints, but whether the experts used to authenticate or negate the pieces are themselves valid.
In the U.S., no set of regulations exist for the art market. Experts are determined more by consensus than credentials. An individual may have an enormous knowledge base of a particular artist, both historically and mechanically, down to the brush strokes. But, in a buyer-beware environment, unless an expert can garner enough respect and confidence from the art world, he will become useless when it comes to authenticating a work of art, even if he is the only one in the world that can tell the difference between the real thing and a master forgery. This holds especially true for works by Dali, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Andy Warhol, artists for which there exists no authentication boards in the United States.
As for Park West, they utilized the professional services of an accredited art appraiser and Dali expert, Bernard Ewell, of Sante Fe, New Mexico. For years, he examined works which were later sold by Park West during their cruise line auctions. However, a pre-existing power-struggle between Ewell and French Dali expert Robert Descharnes was exploited by Franks, and brought into her “ring of fire” on the FAR website. Franks, for some reason or another, has joined ranks with Descharnes, and appears in videos with him and his son Nicolas Descharnes, referring to the two as “world renowned Dali experts.” Franks says she has spent about $2-Million on litigation costs against Park West.
“It’s the old wild west,” says Franks. “That is why we’re here; to bring order.”
Franks is a human sieve: offering information, speculation and ponderings with the nonchalance of a gossiper, yet the tenacity of a litigator. “There’s a whole sociological element to art crime and art fraud, in why criminals do what they do,” said Franks.
As she spoke, I was drawn into the tangle of her words, and it dawned on me that there’s a place where Franks thrives; a grey area in the art world where, in all its chaos and disorder, there exists a platform to gain a position of power and control, to authenticate strange truths and fashion them into less strange lies, to bolster a false sense of confidence in those that serve you, and destroy those that oppose, and capitalize on it all in a very creative, venomous way.
In all the seemingly wanton, obsessive ranting, – Franks spoke for several minutes at a time between questions – I still found it difficult to put down the phone. But I had to; there were other calls to make. And as a registered member of fineartregistry.com, who had spent months perusing the site and corresponding with other members, I knew something wasn’t quite right. But to an extent I had never imagined.
I put a call to Bernard Ewell, the Dali expert for Park West and asked him why Franks was after him. “I live in rattlesnake country and I know better than to stir up a viper,” said Ewell. But I pressed him for a motive, pointing out that Franks spent an enormous amount of money on the trials in Michigan. He said he was being attacked by Franks to discredit him as an expert witness in the federal case with Park West. “During the Park West trial, the favored theory was that she is being funded by Robert Descharnes, because he was trying to destroy Park West Gallery, so that his son Nicolas can basically corner and control the whole Dali market,” said Ewell.
As a result of Franks’s accusations and “Google-Bomb” campaign, Ewell says he’s lost up to 70% of his business. “People do a Google search of my name and I never hear from them again,” said Ewell. He described Franks as “an anarchistic bomb thrower; she really doesn’t care what innocent lives are ruined and what indiscriminate damage she causes. She’s like a grizzly bear: you just don’t know what she’s going to do. Like a Japanese zero out of a cloud, she was suddenly there.”
What troubles Ewell most, it seems, is that none of the investigators followed Franks’ money trail to find out where her funding is coming from. “Everyone just sort of shrugged and said, ‘so what can you say, the woman is crazy’. There’s no logic to this. She’s got some things going in her head that she’s convinced herself is true.” Ewell, in his despair and frustration still sports an air of toughness, and also a quick-witted, whimsical sense of humor. “She reminds me of the White Queen in Alice in Wonderland who said, ‘Sometimes before breakfast I can believe in as many as thirteen impossible things.’”
I asked if he had one question for Franks, what it would be. After a long pause, he said, “Has she benefited enough from all the damage she’s done? Because the damage has been massive.” On whether Franks committed libel: “Yes, absolutely,” said Ewell. “Complete lies.”
As for Teri Horton, the owner of the purported Pollock painting that Biro found a fingerprint on, she was very reluctant to speak with me at first, fearing I was a “Theresa Franks shill”. After two requests, she agreed to speak briefly about Franks. She referred to Franks as an “opportunist”, capitalizing on high profile cases such as her painting.
Perhaps a most stunning revelation: Horton disclosed publicly for the first time that it was actually Franks who first contacted Horton several years ago when news broke of the new-found painting. “She wanted to have me put the Pollock painting on her website,” said Horton, “because she and her company, Fine Art Registry, were so well known she could assure me of a sale with top dollar.”
But, Horton, street-smart and deep into her 70’s, wouldn’t take the bait. She said it was with “gut instinct” that she immediately did not trust Franks. “I refused,” said Horton. “Then she went on her rampage and lied.” She described Franks as a “diabolical sociopath” who has caused problems for her entire family. “If I had the money, I would sue her for property disparagement. She’s a crazy, evil woman,” said Horton. If Horton was to sue, she may have to get in line and wait. Maricopa County records show Franks’ legal troubles have been mounting for years. One such case involves an $896,000 loan in which Franks and her husband, Logan Franks, have defaulted. “We couldn’t even find them physically,” said the plaintiff’s attorney, Scott L. Potter. “They wouldn’t answer the door.” Potter said the case has “finished out” and the court issued a default judgement against the Franks’ in excess of $680,000. He suggested other claimants are in cue. “Actually, I received a call yesterday from someone looking for Ms. Franks.”
And back to those blue-chip works being offered for sale on Franks’ website: Pollock, Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee, Egon Schiele. I wrote an email to a seller, “David Cameron”, who lists numerous works as being “by Jackson Pollock”. Cameron said the works come from a “huge collection”, and are owned by a small group of investors, and that Franks had come to view the paintings prior to listing them for sale on the web.
I contacted the Pollock-Krasner Foundation and told them works were being offered on the FAR website. Alarmed, they referred me to the foundation’s attorney, Ronald D. Spencer. I asked what he thought of the paintings. I could hear him gasp from the other end of the phone as he opened up the email which contained the links to the FAR site. He paused momentarily, then said: “If you were to gather all the Pollock experts in the world, they would all give you the same answer. And it would be an equivocal answer.”
I did in fact contact an expert on Pollock, who wished to remain anonymous. He stated, “It is my opinion that these works are not by the hand of Pollock. They are amateur fakes. Most disturbing is the reference to Clement Greenberg, Peggy Guggenheim and Larry Rivers in the seller’s description. Furthermore, it shall be considered that the entity offering these works, Fine Art Registry, is indeed trafficking in forgeries.”
A seller, “JBPALANK”, (Jason B. Palank), who appears on the FAR site as well as its offshoot, registermyantiques.com, claims on his profile that he is a “Consultant & Modern Impressionist Specialist” for Christie’s Auction House – New York.  Among the works offered for sale by Palank: a painting “by Paul Klee”, and an original pen and ink drawing “by Pablo Picasso” for $50,000, which he says includes an appraisal by someone “highly recommended” by Christie’s. However, when I called Christie’s, a representative in the modern impressionist department said there’s no consultant or specialist named Jason B. Palank. I pressed her to search the company’s database. “Nothing,” she said. An e-mail to Palank went unanswered. However, a cursory search shows a history of arrests for prescription fraud, DWI, and possession of a controlled substance. He was most recently arrested on August 1, 2010.
Another member, “Breaux05”, was offering an Egon Schiele watercolor. When I contacted the seller, he responded by stating it was not for sale, but would be inclined to sell it if the price was right. We exchanged about five emails. By the third email, I asked if Franks had seen the piece or offered an opinion. He responded by stating Teri Franks is “not an art expert or authenticator!” The seller also copied the email to admin@fineartregistry.com, the same email address for Teri Franks.
I wrote back saying that I was curious as to her opinion because she’s listed as a “Fine Art Expert” and therefore should be garnered to an opinion, and perhaps responsible for the authenticity of the piece being sold on her website. The seller quickly responded by referring me to his lawyer. The site listing Franks as an art expert is cruise ship watchdog group, cruisebruise.com.
Naturally, I had questions. Why would the seller say Franks is not an expert, and at the same time, copy her on the email? Is it possible that the seller is actually Theresa Franks, and copying herself by accident? That would be too strange, I thought, and would require someone of a duplicitous nature. And although I never did hear back from the seller, I tried yet one more.
I inquired with the  seller, “Artsy”, who lists dozens of works for sale on the FAR site. I received a response from someone who signed off as “Lynn”, and with the email URL suffix as skipperwbreeders.com, a website devoted to horse trading.
A closer look into skipperwbreeders.com revealed non-other than Franks as the site’s administrator. A chill ran up my spine. “Lynn”, and “Artsy”, as it turned out, are the same individual. All this time, I had been unwittingly communicating with Franks: an “advocate” for transparency, clouded by aliases, in a maze carved by her own hands from the desk of a computer. At that very moment I knew I was dealing with a complex, obsessive and deeply troubled person.
I looked back at the Paul Klee painting offered by Palank, and noticed something familiar about its design. It bore striking resemblances to those ink drawings made by Franks, and their distinct titles: “Forged”, “Criminal Mind”, and “Madness”.
In a field of loops and swirls, I considered something more sinister behind the veil of Theresa Franks, and I remembered her own words about “why criminals do what they do.” I made one more call to Bernard Ewell and asked him again why Theresa Franks does what she does.
He said, “I don’t know enough about psychological disorders.”
UPDATES:
*Since publication of this article, FAR has altered the profile for Jason Palank.
**Since publication of this article, an art crime specialist has contacted me and offered to discuss the Theresa Franks and Fine Art Registry case with law enforcement.
***Due to the overwhelming response to this article, I believe it merits the inclusion of the following public information on Theresa Franks and Fine Art Registry.
****Since publication of this article, a US daily newspaper has contacted me and expressed interest in writing a follow-up article. Stay tuned!

(this post is a reprint of a post from my wordpress.com blog dated May 10th 2012)

I’ve been thinking a lot about the world of art and marketing…commercialism and the like.   Many artists struggle and struggle financially and there is an overwhelming (it sometimes seems) perception that artists do not make money until they are dead….if then.  The argument I heard many years ago that influenced me decide to change from being an art major in college to a business major instead…and eventually, a psychology major – maybe to help me figure out me, more that anything.  But I digress.

I think that there is an exclusivity that the purveyors of art promote that is harmful to both artists and the public alike….harmful to them as well, for in promoting exclusivity in the art world, or to put it more simply…intimidating the majority of the people in the world - people who are not necessarily educated about “what art is and is not” – you have limited your market to far fewer people.  How many people are too intimidated by their perceived lack of knowledge about art to even walk into an art gallery?  There is so much fun made of what people say about art in galleries and museums (you can find many stories on the web) that I am self-conscious about saying anything about a work of art within earshot of gallery and museum employees and owners if the atmosphere of the place feels in any way “exclusive”.  The thing is, art is subjective.  If I look at a Jackson Pollock painting and think it’s just silly…to me – that is my right.  Right?

I am not a Thomas Kinkaid fan – but I won’t read a romance novel either.  They just don’t engage me.  But lots of people are crazy about both.  That’s GREAT!   Andy Warhol, on the other hand.  I have always liked Andy Warhol’s art.  Both of these artists were really good promoters of their own work, Andy Warhol was a promotional genius, I think.  I came across a really good article about him, if anyone reading this cares to read on.  I put pictures of some ot the art that it refers to along the way…

****************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

From INTELLIGENT LIFE magazine, November/December 2011

Sara Friedlander, the 27-year-old head of First Open Sale at Christie’s in New York, has a startling view of American art history. “Nothing good was made in the 19th century, nothing really good was made in the 18th century and American art in the 20th century for the first three, four or five decades was very elitist.”

There was, in this view, no American Titian or Picasso, Raphael or Matisse. And then, suddenly, on July 9th 1962, there was. That was the date of the first solo show by Andy Warhol, the 33-year-old son of Slovakian immigrants. It was at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles and it consisted of a series of 32 paintings of Campbell’s Soup Cans, one for each flavour—beef, clam chowder, cheddar cheese, etc. The response was underwhelming. Five sold for $100 each, but the gallery owner bought them back to keep the series intact.

Andy Warhol Tomato Soup can

Nevertheless, by the end of that year, Warhol had conquered New York, the capital of the art world, and America had the artist for which she had been waiting. “He reached a public”, says Friedlander, “that no artist was able to do before him. Because he was able to accomplish what nobody else had done and in the way he was able to influence what came after him, I think that makes him, I would guess, the greatest artist of the 20th century.”

There is nothing unorthodox about this claim. Almost unanimously, today’s young art fans adore Andy as earlier generations adored Pablo Picasso or Jackson Pollock. “To the under-45s”, says Georgina Adam of the Art Newspaper, “Warhol is what Picasso used to be to an older generation…and, like Picasso, he has become a man for all seasons.”

This vast fan base has been reinforced by the shrewd licensing arrangements negotiated by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, established under the terms of the artist’s will. There have been Warhol skateboards, Warhol editions of Dom Pérignon champagne and countless Warhol fashion lines, including Pepe jeans and Diane von Furstenberg dresses. But, in a wider sense, Warhol’s colours and styles—especially his use of pop style—pervade the culture. Any city street shows evidence of the astonishing power and durability of his imagery.

The market backs the enthusiasm of the young. Those original soup cans are not for sale: bought by the Los Angeles dealer for $1,000, they were sold to the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1996 for $15m, a deal that promoted Warhol to art’s first division. In 2008 a 12-foot-wide Warhol painting entitled “Eight Elvises”, made in 1963, broke the $100m barrier, putting him in the same lofty bracket as Picasso, Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Gustav Klimt. The highest auction price, meanwhile, is $71.7m for “Green Car Crash” (1963). To put these dizzying prices in perspective, Titian recently achieved his highest ever auction price—$16.9m for “A Sacra Conversazione” from about 1560. This is an important picture by an artist many regard as the greatest painter that ever lived. But the market says that Warhol is more than five times better.

Warhol is now the god of contemporary art. He is indeed, it is said, the “American Picasso” or, if you prefer, the art market’s one-man Dow Jones. In 2010 his work sold for a total of $313m and accounted for 17% of all contemporary auction sales. This was a 229% increase on the previous year—nothing bounced out of recession quite like a Warhol. But perhaps the most significant figure is the rise in his average auction prices between 1985 and the end of 2010: 3,400%. The contemporary-art market as a whole rose by about half that, the Dow by about a fifth. “Warhol is the backbone of any auction of post-war contemporary art,” says Christopher Gaillard, president of the art consultants Gurr Johns. “He is the great moneymaker.”

Some glee in the market is understandable—and not just because of the money. Warhol believed in fame and wealth: they were intrinsic to his aesthetic. The auctioneers are co-creators, carrying on Warhol’s work post mortem, and the salerooms are extensions of the galleries. “How he would love it all!” says Sara Friedlander of the current frenzy. “I can see him at an auction, seated at front and centre with his Polaroid camera and his fright wig…I think of him in every sale we do.”

Before Warhol, the believers argue, there was sterility; after Warhol there is a ravishing, visual cornucopia. Without him, they say, there would be no Jeff Koons, Jeff-KoonsRichard Prince - Nurse Paintingsno Richard Prince, no Banksy, no Takashi Murakami, no Damien Hirst. Many of the fashionable artists in the world emerged from beneath Andy’s fright wig.

There would also be no fun without Andy. The starting point for any assessment of his legacy is his instant accessibility: nobody need ever be puzzled by a Warhol—his lavish colours, his epic simplicity, above all his subject matter. “Andy always painted famous things,” says the artist Michael Craig-Martin, “whether it was Liz Taylor or a Coke can.”

“Even children love him,” says Gul Coskun, a specialist Warhol dealer in London. “They stop their parents outside my shop. His pictures are big, colourful, they are not taxing academically. But they are taxing financially now.”

All of which raises the question: is this a bubble—critical and financial—that will soon burst? In market terms, it seems likely if only because the rise in values has been so extreme. But the problem is that the market conceals more than it reveals. There are, it is said, 10,000 individual works—the exact number will only become clear when the vast catalogue raisonné is completed by the Warhol Foundation. They have just started work on Volume Four of this mighty project, but there is no current indication of when it will be finished.murakami-c-new-yorker-magazine

About 200 Warhols come on the market each year. A large percentage are always bought by José Mugrabi, a New York-based dealer-collector who turns up at auctions in jeans, black T-shirt and baseball cap. Mugrabi made his money in textiles in Colombia. He moved to New York in 1982 and began collecting art. He likes to be seen to be buying and he is now believed to own 800 Warhols, some of them first-rank. Last year he is said to have bought more than 40% of the Warhols that came on the market. This scale of participation distorts the market and entails a risk of a swift collapse if Mugrabi were to withdraw. “The question is,” says Noah Horowitz, author of “Art of the Deal: Contemporary Damien Hirst portraitArt in a Global Financial Market”, “what value would those works sustain if and when the market sees some sort of correction?”

Probably only the Andy Warhol Foundation, which also oversees authentication and commercial exploitation of the works, has more Warhols than Mugrabi. The gallery-owner Larry Gagosian has a few too: in 2008 he spent around $200m on 15 to 20 Warhols from the collection of Ileana Sonnabend, an early fan. It would not be quite true to say that Mugrabi, Gagosian and the foundation control the market, but nobody doubts their combined ability to push up prices by sheer brute force. And the prices are further bolstered by museum demand. Few museums with aspirations to represent contemporary art want to be without one of Warhol’s pictures. But this demand is subject to critical fashion. It is safe, therefore, to assume the prices are higher than a strictly open market would allow.

On top of that, the foundation always has the last word on what is and is not a Warhol—which can be tricky given that the work in question may be no more than a Brillo-pad box. Its authentications have not always been accepted. Joe Simon, an American film producer, has been fighting a long war with the foundation over the authenticity of a self-portrait he bought for $195,000 in 1989 (for a full account, go to myandywarhol.com). Later, wanting to sell, he submitted it to the foundation, which pronounced it inauthentic, stamping it “denied”. A further resubmission resulted in another stamp—he had, in the jargon of the trade, been “double-denied”. The two marks, Simon feels, have ruined the painting. He now plans to sue the foundation. “This is not just my fight,” he says, “it’s a fight for the integrity of Andy Warhol’s work.”

“The problem is”, says Georgina Adam, “that the foundation wants Andy Warhol to be a high artist with high ideals, they want him to be like Leonardo da Vinci. They don’t want to think that he just signed a lot of stuff without even looking at it, but he did.”

If the works aren’t always what they seem, neither are the auctions. “These sales are no longer auctions,” says Allan Schwartzman, an art adviser. “To attract material at the top end, auction houses pre-sell the material to ‘irrevocable bidders’. They are deliberate, orchestrated events.” Irrevocable bids are guaranteed, pre-saleroom offers that ensure a work does not go unsold. But they also ensure that the price at auction may not strictly be a transparent meeting point between supply and demand; at times the auctions are little more than a theatre of private deals. Such arrangements are commonplace throughout the market, but they are especially important in the case of Warhol because of his absolute ascendancy and because of a market that is active while still being surprisingly narrow.

Christopher Gaillard does not think this is a problem. “Warhol is a global commodity now. His work is certainly supported by some key players we read about in the papers, but it’s my belief that this is much more far-reaching than that. Warhol is the most powerful contemporary-art brand that exists. Picasso is another. It’s about sheer, instant recognition and what comes along with it is a sense of wealth, glamour and power.”

Whatever the hidden truth of the market, Warhol’s ascendancy is out there in plain sight. And it is a perennial truth of the art business that high values tend to attract critical endorsement. “If you look at art history and criticism,” says Julian Stallabrass of the Courtauld Institute in London, “a lot of it is promotional literature.”

It is almost inevitable, therefore, that Warhol should be critically as well as commercially acclaimed. But the question is: does he deserve it? The answer begins with a pair of shoes.

In 1886 Vincent van Gogh painted a pair of very worn boots. It was a small painting—18 inches by 15—but a powerful one. It remains one of van Gogh’s most familiar images. It is also one of the most densely discussed. Both the philosopher Martin Heidegger and the theorist and critic Frederic Jameson have pondered these boots. What they both conclude is that, in Jameson’s words, “the work in its inert, objectal form is taken as a clue or symptom for some vaster reality which replaces it as its ultimate truth.”

The painting is not simply an arrangement of pigments, nor even, primarily, a representation of something. It is, rather, a statement about a world that lies beyond the painting—the hard life and work of the peasant who wore these boots. It is a portrait of the man and his life painted in his absence. The painting is a window through which we see not just these boots but their place in a world of toil and struggle.

That, in fact, is exactly how people usually look at art, as a physical embodiment of wider meanings. What other reason is there to look at all? But Jameson goes on to compare van Gogh’s boots with a Warhol print from 1980-81, “Diamond Dust Shoes”. Andy-Warhol-Diamond-Dust-ShoesThis work, says Jameson, “evidently no longer speaks to us with any of the immediacy of van Gogh’s footgear; indeed, I am tempted to say that it does not really speak to us at all. Nothing in this painting organises even a minimal place for the viewer, who confronts it at the turning of a museum corridor or gallery with all the contingency of some inexplicable natural object.”

That, in a nutshell, is the entire history of Warhol criticism. It all pivots on the meaning of the word “meaning” when applied to the visual arts. Warhol, a far more intelligent man than he liked to appear, understood this perfectly. “The more you look at the same exact thing,” he said in 1975, “the more the meaning goes away and the better and emptier you feel.” He also said: “Always leave them wanting less.” He was in pursuit of an art that meant nothing.

The context in which his anti-definition of “meaning” appeared was that of a culturally triumphant post-war America. New York had usurped Paris as the capital of the art world and had given birth to its own art movement to rival those of the old Europe. Abstract expressionism (“AbEx”) was widely seen as a statement that the United States need no longer suffer from any kind of cultural cringe. It has even been argued—though, in detail, also disputed—that these artists were financed and promoted by the CIA as ambassadors of freedom.

AbEx was a highly romantic version of modernism. It was a heroic confrontation between the artist and the canvas. The result, in the words of the critic Harold Rosenberg, was “not a picture but an event”. Jackson Pollock laid his canvases on the floor and dripped paint on them. Jackson_Pollock_GalaxyMark Rothko’s shimmering veils of paint yearned romantically for the beyond.

Morris Louis Number 4-26

Morris Louis and Barnett Newman barely disturbed the blankness with their marks. Willem de Kooning embraced chaos as he stabbed at his just-about-figurative images. These were existential heroes of Bohemia, not of the saleroom; their quest was limitless, spiritual and meditative.Barnett Newman - Yellow Painting

The AbExes found their voice in Clement Greenberg. An incisive, highly intellectual critic, he explained the artists to themselves and the world. Primarily, he told them that a painting was not a window on the world; it was a world, a wholly distinct, two-dimensional event. The viewer and the artist both engaged with paint and canvas, not with some external realm, like the life of the peasant that lay beyond van Gogh’s boots. Painters were not even required to engage with three-dimensional space, such was the primal truth of the canvas.

Meaning in abstract expressionism lay in the heroic act of the artist. In Rothko it lay in a form of spiritual contemplation; dekooning-portrait in Pollock it emerged from the carefully contained workings of chance. The personality of the artist was crucial. The paintings were windows that looked inwards to psychology rather than out to the world. They were hermetic, recognisable only as elevated forms of introspection. As Sara Friedlander puts it, they were “only interested in themselves”.

AbEx was the orthodoxy of the 1950s, but it was a paradoxical posture, curiously opposed to the spirit of the age. The post-war boom was getting under way and new machines and goods were raining down on consumers. The world was entering the image-soaked future foreseen and described by Marshall McLuhan. And yet this was precisely what these world-conquering artists were not painting.

Warhol was as soaked in images as anybody. Through the 1950s he was a successful commercial artist, known, among other things, for his advertisements showing highly distinctive blotty ink drawings of shoes. But he was also a devoted gallery-goer, determined to break into the citadel of high art. In fact, though he is often talked about as the godfather of pop art, he was beaten into the citadel by several other aspirants, notably Roy Lichtenstein who, from 1961, produced his giant blow-ups of comic book images. Desperate, Warhol turned to Muriel Latow, an adventurous gallery owner. According to Tony Scherman and David Dalton in their book “Pop: The Genius of Andy Warhol”, he said to her, “Just tell me what to paint.”

In return for a $50 cheque, she told him “to think of the most common, everyday, instantly recognisable thing he could”. He thought of his doting mother, Julia Warhola. Warhol had been, according to the philosopher and critic Gary Indiana, her “tantrum-prone, acne-riddled, albino lion cub”, a difficult and sick child to whom she gave maximum attention. He was spoilt—the family’s “moody, tyrannical centre-piece” who “shaped weaknesses into weapons for rejecting anyone he didn’t like and avoiding anything he didn’t want to do”. Julia lived in the basement of the Manhattan town house he had bought with his money from his advertising commissions. She used to give him soup for lunch—Campbell’s soup.

The cans he exhibited in Los Angeles emerged both from his mother’s menu and from a love of the colourful world of consumption. So they were not quite as impersonal as is often claimed. “Warhol’s approach to pop culture”, Scherman and Dalton argue, “was far from purely aesthetic: from childhood on, he loved its products and worshipped its heroes and heroines.”

But his psychology played no part in their reception: they were seen as works devoid of introspection, shocking statements of the obvious. Whereas innocent viewers could stand in front of a Pollock and get no answer to the question “What is it?”, they would get an immediate answer standing in front of a Warhol. “It’s a soup can.”

“It seems”, wrote the artist Donald Judd of a 1963 Warhol exhibition, “that the salient metaphysical question lately is ‘Why does Andy Warhol paint Campbell Soup cans?’ The only available answer is ‘Why not?’ ”

The 1962 Los Angeles show was followed, a few months later, by New York exhibitions which featured the massive “Marilyn Diptych”—50 versions of a photo of Marilyn Monroe, 100 Soup Cans, 100 Dollar Bills and, even more momentously, a pile of Brillo boxes.

Arthur Danto was a professor of philosophy at Columbia at the time. Interested in contemporary art, he visited the Stables gallery and saw the boxes. “I was working on a five-volume work on analytical philosophy,” he tells me, “my head was full of Descartes and Russell and all the other tough thinkers and, when I walked into the Stables, I suddenly thought that art has finally caught up with philosophy and Andy did it. I was stunned and I changed the whole direction of my work. This was a completely new way of thinking about art.”

Danto—who is now the grandest pillar in the edifice of Warhol appreciation—was preoccupied with how we evaluate our perceptions. From Descartes he inherited the mystery of how we could tell the difference between waking and sleeping consciousness. How did we know which was more real? Warhol’s boxes asked the same question by replacing “real” with “art”. How did we know which was more “art”, a van Gogh or a Brillo box? “Andy showed that art and non-art cannot be told apart just by looking at them.”

Marcel Duchamp had done this decades earlier, in 1917, by taking a urinal, signing it, exhibiting it and calling it “Fountain”. But there was still something timeless—and, therefore, arty—about a urinal. Warhol hardened the theme by choosing something that was utterly contemporary and ephemeral. The following year he made the movie “Sleep”, showing a man sleeping for five hours and 20 minutes. He had also, by then, founded the Factory, the defiantly named Manhattan location that became his headquarters, production line and studio. Its flamboyant radicalism made him a hero of the young, often with catastrophic consequences.

“I had a couple of students, actually my best students,” Danto says. “They decided to go down to the Factory and they were ruined, completely ruined, as thinkers. They got druggy. I had imagined they would be serious philosophers but that never happened.”

The defiance of the name lay in the idea that art could be produced in a factory, like any other consumer good. Warhol’s art was not supposed to be a matter of emotion, introspection or spiritual quest; it was to be an image, pure and simple. “During the 1960s,” he wrote knowingly in 1975, “I think, people forgot what emotions were supposed to be. And I don’t think they’ve ever remembered.”

This pursuit of affectlessness was what outraged—and still outrages—some critics and artists. According to Gary Indiana, de Kooning screamed “You destroyed art!” in Warhol’s face.

In a crucial passage in his book “American Visions” (1998), the great critic Robert Hughes summarised Warhol’s aesthetic: “It all flowed from one central insight: that in a culture glutted with information, where most people experience most things at second or third hand through TV and print, through images that become banal and disassociated by being repeated again and again and again, there is a role for affectless art. You no longer need to be hot and full of feeling. You can be supercool, like a slightly frosted mirror…Warhol…was a conduit for a sort of collective American state of mind in which celebrity—the famous image of a person, the famous brand name—had completely replaced both sacredness and solidity.”

Clement Greenberg, meanwhile, realising that Warhol had flung a pot of vinyl paint in the face of the AbExes, was dismissive. “I find his art sappy. The big-screen portraits and all these things. Who cares about them?” He knew the critical basis of his entire career was being assaulted by pop.

“The whole of pop art”, explains Stallabrass, “was a reply to Greenberg.” Greenberg was defending art as a specific category, something set aside from the ordinary world. But, as Danto saw, Warhol created art that was an arbitrary aspect of the ordinary. There was no special category, girded by a language of depth and meaning; there was just what was defined as art at any given time. Being famous and making money was as legitimate a goal for the artist as self-exploration.

Ever since, the central theme of anti-Warhol sentiment is that he sold out, not just himself but the whole idea of art. The philosopher Roger Scruton argues that he had nothing to say: it really was all about money. “It is worth pointing out that there is neither beauty, nor elegance nor style in anything that Warhol did, and that the very media he chose were reflections of the moral emptiness within him. But since the result (like the silkscreens of Marilyn Monroe) convey that emptiness, there is nothing in them to understand; in no way do they present a challenge to the observer, other than the challenge to his chequebook. And if you are extremely rich, extremely stupid and morally vacant, why not write a cheque to prove it?”

The pro-Warhol response to that is that it misses the point. The chequebook is the aesthetic. “I think the argument one could well make”, says Noah Horowitz, “is that in some sense his whole thing, his MO, his method of production was totally tied into that [the market], and it’s one thing to analyse and criticise and do something aesthetic with that structure but Warhol embraced it and made it his aesthetic.”

So either Warhol was an empty product of money or he made art out of money. Take your pick.

Valerie Solanas was a radical feminist who believed in the violent creation of an all-female society. In 1967 she asked Warhol to produce her play “Up Your Ass”, but he lost the script and Solanas started demanding payment. Finally, in June 1968, she turned up at the Factory and shot him in the chest. It was a grievous wound—Warhol had to wear a corset for the rest of his life to, as he put it, “keep my insides in”—and he only just survived.Valerie Solanas S.C.U.M. manifesto

Solanas was imprisoned, though only until 1971, and she died in 1988. But she was not forgotten. In 1996 a film of her life—Mary Harron’s “I Shot Andy Warhol—appeared and some feminists still claim her as a hero of the cause. But she is also remembered as a key player in the history of contemporary art. The shooting was a creative as well as a medical turning point for Warhol. The experience seemed to intensify his own sense that his life was not quite real. “Before I was shot, I always thought that I was more half-there than all-there—I always suspected that I was watching TV instead of living life…Right when I was being shot and ever since, I knew that I was watching television. The channels switch, but it’s all television.”

Most now agree—even in the midst of the current frenzy—Andy Warhol Self Portrait 1986that the shooting marked the start of a steady decline in the quality of Warhol’s work. Nothing more vividly demonstrates this decline than two self-portraits, nearly 20 years apart, currently on display at Tate Modern in London. The picture from 1986, the year before his death, shows the now gaunt features in red, topped by his fright wig. It is striking and beautifully composed, but it is a poster, a one-liner. The picture from 1967 is haunting, powerful, with layers of vibrant colour that demand close examination.Andy Warhol Self Portrait 1967

When the average cultivated punter now thinks ofa Warhol, they will almost certainly be thinking of a Marilyn Monroe, a Jackie Kennedy, an Elvis Presley, a soup can or even an electric chair made between 1962 and 1968. What they will not be thinking about is the ten portraits from 1980 entitled “Jewish Geniuses”

or his endless pursuit of the rich, famous and powerful as patrons and subjects—Michael Jackson, Mick Jagger, Liza Minnelli, John Lennon, Diana Ross, the Shah of Iran. One thing nobody can really claim Warhol has in common with Picasso is lifelong inspiration and creativity. After the shooting he slowly ground to an aesthetic halt.

But perhaps it can be said that Warhol’s legacy is more wide-ranging than Picasso’s. Arthur Danto’s conviction is that he changed everything he touched, that his influence is universal. “Even Picasso was a more limited kind of figure, a great artist for sure, but he was an inventor of styles. I think what Andy was was an inventor of no styles at all.”

Warhol’s posture of opposition to meaning and the idea of the specialness of art was constantly being extended. In movies he subverted all artifice, not just by showing a man sleeping, but, later, by filming random scenes of anti-acting by his cast of “superstars”. In “A Novel” (1968) he took apart fiction by using straight transcriptions of the conversational ramblings of his friends. And, by adopting the Velvet Underground, he created the most savagely nihilistic rock band of them all. He even took on the philosophers—“The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again)” (1975) consists of transcriptions of his spoken thoughts. But, though such things undoubtedly leave traces in the culture, they are dead ends in ways in which his best paintings were not. Nobody needs to do a mindlessly transcribed novel again or even read one, but many need to plunder the genuine riches of the pre-shooting Warhols.

Finally, Julian Stallabrass makes a crucial point about Warhol’s current stature. “You know this work really engages people in the art world. Maybe what has really changed in the last few years is that people have been finding out, essentially through publishing their own works on social networking sites, that making things that look a bit like art isn’t at all hard and that is very demystifying and empowering.”

Warhol now endorses a way of life. One simple technology—silk-screen printing—dominated his career. But it was enough to show today’s technology-laden, hyper-connected youth that they could do it too. With the instant publication of digital pictures and videos, anybody can become a cyber-Warhol, swimming in the great ocean that pop imagery has become. Apple’s Photo Booth software reduces the whole thing to a single click—just by selecting “pop art” under “effects” you can change your face into a very credible Warhol multiple self-portrait. Andy, in death, is a generation’s mentor.Andy Warhol Jewish Geniuses exhibition

The Andy Warhol Foundation and the market may want him to be Leonardo or Picasso, but the young want him to be what Arthur Danto says he is, the overthrower of all such pretensions. It is in this balance of aspirations that Warhol, the god of contemporary art, now exists. In time this phase will pass and the idea that Warhol is a greater artist than, say, Robert Rauschenberg or Jackson Pollock will be seen as the absurdity that it is. The bubble will burst, prices will fall and the drinker of all that Campbell’s soup will be restored to his rightful place—as a briefly brilliant and very poignant recorder of the dazzling surface of where we are now.

The intellectual excitement of his attempt to destroy meaning is also close to its sell-by date. Prompted by Warhol, conceptualism—art driven by ideas rather than sensuous and emotional engagement—has ruled the art world for more than 20 years. It is a machine aesthetic, a desire to make art that is beyond human, and Andy always wanted to be a machine. But, though all art is in constant, self-questioning flux, one thing never changes—the longing to define, synthesise and express the human condition. In the absence of religion, it is art’s job to do this. For six years, despite his claims to the contrary, Warhol was an artist, a generator of meanings. Valerie Solanas and his own social ambitions put an end to this. Now it is time for us, and the market, to adjust to the fact that it is over.

Bryan Appleyard is an award-winning feature writer for the Sunday Times. His latest book, “The Brain is Wider than the Sky”, is out now.

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