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I've said this before.... - KRAD's Inaccurate Guide to Life
ramblings from a mad fedora'd writer
I've said this before....
...but it bears repeating. I was going to post this elsewhere on teh intarwubs, but then my Life's-Too-Fucking-Short-O-Meter went off, and I didn't post it.

But I saved the text and reproduce it here:

The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel painted by Michelangelo was a media tie-in work-for-hire. If Pope Julius II didn't like one of the frescoes, then Michelangelo hauled ass to change it, because the Pope was the one who commissioned the work. In fact, Michelangelo considered himself a sculptor and hated painting, and didn't particularly want to paint the ceiling, but he did it because he was a working artist and Pope Julius was the guy paying him.

The myth of starving artists, and of artists who create whatever they want in order to fulfill a vision regardless of what lesser minds want is just that: a myth, mostly perpetuated by artists who can't sell their work. Most of the greatest works of art in the history of humanity weren't created because the artists had a great vision they had to share with the world, they were created because the artists were paid to do it: the Parthenon, Shakespeare's plays, Michelangelo's ceiling, they were all commissioned pieces. And if the person doing the commissioning wanted changes, then the artist changed it.

Current Mood: determined determined
Current Music: "Riu, Riu, Chiu" by Andrew Parrott

19 comments or Please comment
scarlettina From: scarlettina Date: December 21st, 2008 01:49 am (UTC) (Link)
What brought on the rant replay, Keith?
kradical From: kradical Date: December 21st, 2008 01:53 am (UTC) (Link)
I'd rather not say. (If I was willing to say, I would've posted it in the original place....)
thatwasjen From: thatwasjen Date: December 21st, 2008 02:06 am (UTC) (Link)
saraphina_marie From: saraphina_marie Date: December 21st, 2008 02:08 am (UTC) (Link)
We were just talking about that tonight in fact. Not you in specific or even media tie-in, but the idea that to be a "real" artist you have to a) starve, b) the totally obtuse and "literary", and c) not be writing to market, being picked up by a publisher anyone has heard of, and not be making any money off of your work (because that's "selling out").

Amen, my friend. Keep fighting the good fight and writing the good books!
suricattus From: suricattus Date: December 21st, 2008 02:29 am (UTC) (Link)
oh but it's such a pretty button, all red and sparkly and just asking to be pushed.......
drewshi From: drewshi Date: December 21st, 2008 03:36 am (UTC) (Link)
I love telling the kids about how Shakespeare was as much a con man in many respects as he was a great writer as history portrays him. The best is when I explain how he created the supernatural elements in Macbeth in order to keep King James amused and diverted, right down to King Edward's magical healing touch.
dungeonwriter From: dungeonwriter Date: December 21st, 2008 03:37 am (UTC) (Link)
May I link to this back to you in my journal? It's genius!
kradical From: kradical Date: December 21st, 2008 03:39 am (UTC) (Link)
By all means!
dungeonwriter From: dungeonwriter Date: December 21st, 2008 03:40 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you!

Can't wait to finally see you talk at Comic Con NY. It will be nice to put name to blog.
kradical From: kradical Date: December 21st, 2008 03:44 am (UTC) (Link)
But no pressure..... *laughs*

(Seriously, though--likewise! As soon as I have a proper schedule, I'll post it here....)
ellyssian From: ellyssian Date: December 21st, 2008 04:05 am (UTC) (Link)
But... it's art, not a commodity!

“It is sickening to know that our art is being traded like a commodity rather than the art that it is."

- Lars Ulrich, Metallica, as quoted when suing Napster because they weren't getting paid for music that was traded.

~ ~ ~

You could add most classical music pieces to that list as well - Mozart's Requiem, perhaps most famously of all, was commissioned by a noble who attempted to pass the work off as his own.

If you haven't already done so, check out Peter Shickele's Bach Portrait on YouTube to hear some excerpts of what JS Bach spent his time thinking about when he wasn't composing. =)

alpinemaps From: alpinemaps Date: December 21st, 2008 04:16 am (UTC) (Link)
As a cartographer, I can completely appreciate this. And this is something that I have to share with 'newer' cartographers. They want to spend days and days (on commissioned pieces), perfecting them, and getting them the way they want it. But, does it meet the customer's needs? That's all that matters.

It's a hard lesson to learn, and one I had to learn when I was first starting out. I'm lucky in that I *can* sit there and create a work of art that I want to create, uncommissioned, pretty much whenever I want. But, at the cost of spending time with the family, or working on commissioned items. So while I occasionally have the opportunity (working on a map for fun), most times, I'm right there with you.
ssantara From: ssantara Date: December 21st, 2008 05:20 am (UTC) (Link)
Money is a big motivator to git r dun!
The carrot......
Gee, I got bills to pay... I better do art to pay them!
I paint feathers mainly for my audience and allot are commissions and some from me just listening to what the customers want. I make a high percentage of my living from them.

However, I get visions and I paint those too, after I get caught up on the commissions :) but they still tie in to what the audience wants in a round about way.... I wasn't starving when I painted what I wanted to do either....

But yes, well said and well put....
safewrite From: safewrite Date: December 21st, 2008 07:04 am (UTC) (Link)
My favorite example of commissioned work is the composers, and not just classical ones with patrons. More recently you have John Williams: I don't care if the music for Star Wars was commissioned or not, it's brilliant, and it makes me happy that Mr. Williams gets paid well for his talent.

And yes, I am comparing you to him. You should be chuffed.
kradical From: kradical Date: December 22nd, 2008 05:02 am (UTC) (Link)
I am, indeed, chuffed. Thanks!
xenaclone From: xenaclone Date: December 21st, 2008 09:49 am (UTC) (Link)
Pope: Evening, Michelangelo. I want to have a word with you about this painting of yours, "The Last Supper."

Michelangelo: Oh, yeah?

Pope: I'm not happy about it.

Michelangelo: Oh, dear. It took me hours.

Pope: Not happy at all.

Michelangelo: Is it the jello you don't like?

Pope: No.

Michelangelo: Ah, no, I know, they do have a bit of colour, don't they? Oh, I know, you don't like the kangaroo?

Pope: What kangaroo?

Michelangelo: No problem, I'll paint him out.

Pope: I never saw a kangaroo!

Michelangelo: Uuh...he's right in the back. I'll paint him out! No sweat, I'll make him into a disciple.

Pope: Aah.

Michelangelo: All right?

Pope: That's the problem.

Michelangelo: What is?

Pope: The disciples.

Michelangelo: Are they too Jewish? I made Judas the most Jewish.

Pope: No, it's just that there are twenty-eight of them.

Michelangelo: Oh, well, another one will never matter, I'll make the kangaroo into another one.

Pope: No, that's not the point.

Michelangelo: All right. Well, I'll lose the kangaroo. Be honest, I wasn't perfectly happy with it.

Pope: That's not the point. There are twenty-eight disciples!

Michelangelo: Too many?

[Monty Python]
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 21st, 2008 11:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Absolutely true.
Art is about sharing a talent and vision with people. Even in commissioned work it is impossible to snuff the artist out. Why a person shouldn't try and make a living doing what they love is beyond me. I think that people have a sense of purity when it comes to these things that makes them believe sincerity is impossible when money is involved, but like you said many artists of the past had rich benefactors that paid them to "be themselves" and walk around their grounds making art for their entertainment as well as to elevate their standing in the community. I'm glad there are people out there willing to pay you to be you.
Charlie the forum guy.
ktpinto From: ktpinto Date: December 22nd, 2008 06:02 am (UTC) (Link)
And wasn't it Van Gogh who died without selling one piece of art?

Also, you have pretty much stated the reason why I love the movie Shakespeare in Love. It showed Shakespeare as a poor writer just trying to make some money, not this literary genius who magically wrote masterpieces. (Also the reason why Richard the III was ugly and had a hump, because he was writing for Queen Elizabeth I).
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 22nd, 2008 03:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
yes, it was Van Gogh who never sold a single painting ad lived off the support of his brother. I was going to point that out, but I'm glad someone else did!

Art or whatever we do, we do to survive- either financially or emotionally or spiritually. It only becomes "work" when we don't like the fact that we have to do it. Like Mike and that damned ceiling . ( I liked it with the kangaroos!)

19 comments or Please comment