Getty list has been discussing meaning vs technique. I thought this
recent newsletter from Robert Genn meshed with this thread, so I asked
him for permission to share it. Continue to put meaning into your
lessons. I have purchased a lot of art - all for what it means to me.
There is a lot of personal symbolism in the art I make.
Why they buy
June 24, 2005
For some of us it's a mystery wrapped in an enigma. Why do
people buy art? How do they choose? What motivates them? If I
had fifty cents for every time someone has asked this over the
past few years, I could purchase that new Bentley.
I once painted a Dalmatian that was jumping up and kissing a
girl who was wearing a spotted dress. It wasn't anybody's
typical subject. Over a period of twenty years I sent that
painting to thirteen different galleries. Every time it came
back I shipped it off again to somewhere else. I liked the
painting. One fine day, surprise, surprise, there was a cheque
in the mail and a note that caught my eye--"Girl with
Dalmatian"--16 x 20--sold.
By telephone the dealer told me that the man who bought it had
a Dalmatian and three daughters. This confirmed to me that one
of the main motivators is simply "connection." Look at it this
way--paintings are on a quest to find someone. The darling
things are just seeking a little love. And if they don't give,
they don't get. It's my feeling that for every painting, no
matter how obtuse, there's somebody. But if what a work of art
has to give is pretty esoteric, like my Dalmatian, it might
take some time. And art that gives less may take until
Before I get ambushed for talking about "catering," I'll
mention some of the other reasons people buy. It's not that
anyone has to pay attention to any of this--in some ways it's a
waste of energy--but these are the facts: People buy because
they are sold--either by someone else or themselves. They buy
because they want to enhance their lives. Because what they see
reminds them of something. Because there's a story behind the
art or the artist. Because they want to get rid of
money--sometimes lots of it. They want to invest. They need to
make a gift. Their neighbors have something like it. They want
to look smart, sensitive or clever. They want to have something
on the wall. They already have a taupe chesterfield or a maroon
Berber carpet. They want to encourage somebody or become a
benefactor. Like a Bentley owner, they may just want to look
good. And last but not least, they may actually buy because for
some unknown, deep-seated, atavistic reason they can't explain,
they just can't live without it. These last are the buyers you
feel like jumping up on and kissing.
PS: "When you do a thing with your whole soul and everything
that is noble within you, you always find your counterpart."