Art is Not Made in a Vacuum
September 11, 2009
Painting by Edgar Degas
Jonathan Talbot said this a few times and I agree. Art is not made in a vacuum. If you think about the ‘old days’ in Europe or the U.S. there were ‘schools’ of art which comprised of artists that hung out together, worked together and exhibited together. I think those artists found success as a group especially where exhibiting was concerned. Consider that Toulouse Latrec lived at 19 rue la Fontaine and Edgar Degas has his studio next door at some point despite Degas being 30 yrs. senior to Latrec. Each of them depicted dancers on stage (Degas painted ballerinas and Latrec, the dancers of the Moulin Rouge) and each of them used theatrical lighting on their subjects to good effect.
I don’t believe that these are mere similarities. They are more like influences. Every artist is influenced by the art which she or he admires, has studied, seena nd appreciated. Maybe it is translated in the colors used in a given work or in using a composition or subject. As Jonathan says: “it has all been done before”. I heard this statement over and over in art school but I have always wanted to clarify it with: yeah, but it has not been done by me!
I do believe that even if one appropriates a subject, composition or palette that it will still have that individual’s voice. Our personal style speaks through whatever we do so uniquely that it can’t be stopped. It has to do with how we hold that brush or pen, how we move our hand, the pressure that we apply onto the substrate and how we each see and translate what we see. There are good mimics, yes, but when one is not mimicking, the individualism speaks so loudly that there isn’t any way to hear anything else.
By Toulouse Latrec