Good Business is the best Art?

August 11, 2007

Andy Warhol said (or at least that’s what you can read as his quotes on the web): Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art”.

Robert Genn put it this way in his newsletter as of today: “Good art is what sells”.

Hm – is that so? Probably yes – eventually. This quotation is at least something that keeps me thinking about it repeatedly.

Of course every artist is happy to sell his art but is it therefore really good art? Apparently yes, otherwise people would not buy it – right?

Warhol was maniac about getting famous. And although Warhol parodied the high-art seriousness and consumerism he became not only an idol, repeated and copied a thousand times but also a household item. I am not sure whether he would have been very enthusiastic about it. His quote “commercial things really do stink. As soon as it becomes commercial for a mass market it really stinks” makes me wonder whether he would have liked to see his work on mugs, toilet paper and other daily items.

The funny thing is that till the mid 60’s nobody wanted to pay high prizes for his paintings based on comics, even after successful exhibitions. Eventually this changed and ironically after his death the prices went through the roof.

So was he making good art? Or was it something else that made his work become “priceless”?

Robert Genn refers to a “central dilemma of all arts” in his newsletter as of today:

“It may be the degree of difficulty that holds the interest of many realistic and figurative painters. These artists often see abstraction and conceptual work as arbitrary and lightweight. To quote a common complaint that comes into my inbox, they find it “too easy.” They are, rather, drawn to developing traditional notions of composition, drawing, colour and subject-specific knowledge. They realize these sorts of skillsare achieved by practice, self-training, and sustained effort.While not demeaning the challenges of abstract work, when meaning and sensibility are added to the conservative mix the task becomes doubly daunting.

Degree of difficulty may just be an artist’s best friend. Thinkof the struggle evident in the work of Rembrandt–light, chiaroscuro, composition and surface quality, all mixed with psychological power that grabs.

Imagine developing skills so profound and distinct that no one else comes near. It may be difficult, but it just might be worth it. Here are a few possibilities:

Identify weak areas and self-workshop them.
Repeat unique methodologies until they are mastered.
Explore personal nuances and make them yours.
Push on when you’re pushing your limits.
Trust in ideas and follow your intuition.
Find out where your new strengths are.
Learn to be your own challenger and advocate.
Know that quality is always in style.
Don’t worry if things turn out to be commercial.
Laugh on the way to the bank.”

I know that taking this advice to heart eventually leads to success – not only receiving recognition but also financial rewards.

“Developing skills” is the imperative to all professions no matter which area they cover. Talent is just not enough.

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One Response to “Good Business is the best Art?”


  1. well, money, success and fame have nothing to do with art. Vincent Van Gogh is the poster child for that! Art is art no matter what rules people who think they can define it say. Art is art when one person sees something captivating in it and that’s all that matters.


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