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  • Writer's pictureLeo the Thinker


Updated: Apr 22

There is an endless number of websites and social networks out there showcasing art. Endless talent, artistic beauty like never before. The artistic talent of the world combined. Many more-than-mind-blowing artists have something in common with all other magnificent artists around the world: They are not famous. Hardworking, also exhibiting their works somewhere, often extremely talented, but not famous.

But why are many famous painters of the past century so famous and their works sold at unbelievable high prices, if today their stuff would be considered just average fare when displayed on Instagram ?

The answer is that the days when those famous painters became famous were completely different. Their competition was sizable, often restricted to the artist's own cultural background. Today, while millions of artists may technically surpass some famous painters of the past, and also have better art supply to paint with, it's important to take into account that artistic recognition often involves more than just technical skill. Factors such as historical context, cultural impact, and the ability to capture the zeitgeist of a particular era all contribute to an artist's legacy and enduring fame.

There might be, however, another point to consider. Was the famous artist of bygone times just an artist or an eccentric weirdo too ? Was he or she a natural or society weirdo, or did the artist already act with the teachings of Edward Bernays in mind ?

Edward Bernays, often considered the father of public relations, believed in the power of manipulating public opinion to achieve certain goals. In the context of art, this could mean creating a persona or image for an artist that aligns with societal expectations or desires. This might include eccentric behaviour or a distinctive lifestyle that captures public attention and helps to generate interest in the artist's work.

"There is no such thing as bad publicity" (P. T. Barnum) True ?

Many famous artists of the past and even of the present times have indeed cultivated personas or lifestyles that contributed to their fame as much as, if not more than, their artistic output. Let's name Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol, Frida Kahlo, Pablo Picasso, Ai Weiwei, Damian Hearst...

On the other hand, as competitions in shamelessness exist everywhere, if every artist stepped out of the house as an eccentric weirdo, a loud and scandalous self-promoter ... it would be like no artist steps out as an eccentric weirdo. His antics would drown in the masses of people trying to be seen and talked about by using special methods. Obviously there is a dual talent required: artwise and scandalwise, in a balanced way, in order to become famous and rich.

Just musing around ...

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