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HELP DESK: Personal Development

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Welcome to HELP DESK, where I answer your queries about making, exhibiting, finding, marketing, buying, selling -- or any other activity related to -- contemporary art. Together, we'll sort through some of art's thornier issues. Email helpdesk@dailyserving.com with your questions and save the comments section to chime in on the topics of the day. All submissions remain anonymous.

HELP DESK is a weekly column written for DailyServing.com and is sponsored in part by KQED.org.


Your counselor, hard at work.

Lately I've been seeing works of contemporary art that aren't really aesthetically pleasing, most of them are just really simple and plain. I've seen a lot of beautiful art pieces that are unrecognized and have a lot of meaning behind them. Why do galleries/art blogs publicize contemporary art that is so simple but not the ones that obviously take more time and provoke deep meanings/thoughts?

You're forgetting that perception is extremely subjective. To reply to your question, I'm going to rephrase it. Read it slowly (and then please read it again) and you'll have your answer:

Lately I've been seeing works of contemporary art that aren't really aesthetically pleasing to me. I think that most of them are just really simple and plain. I've seen a lot of things that I thought were beautiful art pieces that are unrecognized but I believe that they have a lot of meaning behind them. Why do galleries/art blogs publicize contemporary art that I think is so simple, but not the ones that I obviously think takes more time, and provokes deep meanings/thoughts for me?


John Baldessari, I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art, 1971. Lithograph, 22 1/2 × 30 inches (image: whitney.org)

If you still don't get it after two readings, I suggest you open your own art gallery and stock it with the work you believe is unrecognized. Many artists will be grateful, and you can look at what you want all day long.


Kasimir Malevich, Black Square, 1929. Oil on canvas, 42 x 42 inches (image: paulcorio.blogspot.com)

I am studying sculpture and painting in college and recently quit my job to focus on my art.  I believe I can support myself with my work, but so far I have not made much money.  I have pieces in several galleries and I paint small commissions every now and then, but I've turned my focus to exhibitions with cash prizes. I have some great ideas for submissions, but they are a far cry from the normal work I produce for the galleries around town. I worry that I will spend too much time on a piece that doesn't win the exhibition and won't make it into the gallery.  My question is, as a beginning artist, which is more important for survival: producing pieces that will sell in a gallery setting, or producing pieces for exhibitions? I assumed galleries would be safer than relying on the possibility of a cash prize, but I'm not so sure now.

If survival is your first concern, I strongly recommend that you get a job again, one that is not too taxing on the brain or the back, and one which provides a steady income so that you can pay your bills and eat decent food and sleep in a warm, dry place.

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