When I came into the studio this morning there was a question waiting for me in my inbox. In response to yesterday’s post, a blogger, JM Nowak, asked : I wonder what van Gogh would have thought? What would he think now about the popularity and sales rate of his Art? Would it make him feel more confident and self-assured…I wonder?!
The question set my mind in motion. Would have recognition in his time affected Van Gogh’s work? Would it have changed the arc of his evolution as we know it? Would his style have changed to meet the will of the market if he had started to sell his work at the time?
These are hard questions. Part of me is selfishly glad that we will never know, happy in the fact that his work came about in just the way it did, relatively uninfluenced by the market or the words of critics. Though I do have to confess that I wish he had found some sort of satisfaction or happiness in knowing that his work became so loved and revered.
But his work evolved in much the same way as outsider and folk artists who toil for the absolute necessity of self expression, without any outside affirmation. There is a sort of pristine purity in this that presents an interesting dichotomy: established artists crave this purity that they can no longer have and the artists with it often desire the acknowledgment that the established artists receive.
Can the line between the two be walked?
It makes me wonder how my own work would have evolved without the galleries or patrons who have supported me these many years now. Would my own arc or direction be the same as it is now? I think it would be different if only for the assurance that that the knowledge that there are waiting eyes to see your work brings. That in itself propels the work forward at times.
But it would undoubtedly be different. But whether it would be better or worse is debatable. It might be narrower in scope just because I might be more tempted to follow an even more personal and esoteric path. But I’m not really sure about that because the real question would be how long would I be able to continue without some outer affirmation for the work. Would I be able to maintain the passion or would I abandon the work or continue to follow Van Gogh down that vortex of madness which he ultimately followed?
A lot to ponder at 6 in the morning…