Your definition of "commercial" as the trading of services for money or support
is helpful. Does that include art teaching? :) In the broadest sense almost
every artist who intends to communicate is probably involved in seeking support,
if not monetary, social, psychological, moral, whatever. Most artists do not
seem immune from the need to belong. Even Gauguin, as I understand what he
experienced in the South Pacific, wanted acceptance from the natives. He is
not, however, what we usually think of as a "commercial" artist.
Another way to define commercial might be " art which is done primarily for a
client, i.e. to please a client." The mind set of the artist in these
circumstances IS different.
On the other hand, a patron may be someone who DOES support the artist's
self-expression. I think Gertrude Stein and Kahnweiler did this for Picasso.
You are right about my definition of art avoiding the issue of valuing, which is
such a huge issue! Maybe if we think of valuing another form, like music, we
can become more objective. What makes us appreciate, even "dig" some pieces of
l) If it is familiar, we are more inclined to like it. Having heard something
before usually makes us more apt to listen or accept.
2) If it is unfamiliar, we must have patient. How many people have patience, are
open to consider new forms?
3)Whether familiar or not, does it satisfy some need we may have--for a calming
number or one which "gets us going", even one which challenges us?
4) Do we understand the elements of the form? tempo, rhythm, pitch, nuances of
These will incline us to listen. Most listeners are not educated in these areas.
5) If we like it, why? How much? Is it an" o.k. for right now," background type
of thing (like the score from a Broadway musical) or a peak experience like
"Leibestod"? (Forgive my showing my prejudice)?
6) If feeling the need to justify, one must THINK about the music. Does it
promote promiscuity, spirituality, brotherhood, extoll some existing emperor,
or make us want to walk in the woods. And, of course, depending on which of the
above value systems we currently accept and support, we will be inclined to like
the music because it supports our belief system.
You can see that I'm enjoying asking questions, too. You are a good teacher,
Eileen Prince! And what I am enjoying, along with your students, is the
Your dichotomy of art into that which is intended as self-expression and that
which is intended to communicate refers to the need for support above. I think
very little art is done purely for self-expression without need for ANYONE
else's feedback. ( It has occurred to me that sometimes we create art so that
one part of ourselves can communicate with another part of ourselves. Is that
Please, don't apologize for the long post. Good luck with "break"work. How 'bout
drawing a picture of that?!