Ego, Psychotics, Sales, Death and the Arts

Does a person have to be a narcissist, psychotic, or egoist to become famous in the modern art world? Or, because of the shocking quality of the work, do these people draw more attention?

Caution to the sensitive viewer – this video shows very gruesome footage of plastic surgery. Orlan is an artist that uses her body in performance. If you can stand watching the video long enough, towards the end she talks about how narcissism and exhibitionism don’t matter as much in her art. She believes she brings up relevant social issues, and that is what’s pertinent. Personally, I think she fits into the psychotic category of the art world. I’m not sure I could call her a narcissist seeing as there seems to be a sort of self-hatred behind surgically adjusting her body like she does.

OR, is art all about business, and those artists that make it only succeed because they know the human character well enough to sell them anything. A movie that explores these questions well is now out on video (Exit Through the Gift Shop):

And lastly, is it only when people have passed that we can appreciate art more fully? Hedda Sterne: “I work against Ego.”

Sterne passed away April 2011 at the age of 100. Of course, she died recently and at such an old age that it is almost a good ending – but of course there are many artists who died (or lived) tragically and their work was rendered more famous because of this. Some more obvious examples are Frida Kahlo, Vincent Van Gogh, and Jasper Johns. Some artists weren’t discovered until after death because they were private people of course like Vivian Maier, Henry Darger, and Emily Dickinson …

Is our cultures obsession with the shocking, tragic, disturbing and flashy out of control – or is it just me?


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