"I think that every painter is more or less obligated to re-enact, very rapidly, the entire history of painting in his or her own development - that is to understand and pass through classicism, the 19th century, the Harlem Renaissance, impressionism, surrealism, and abstraction. Contrary to the myth of the artist as an exceptional being neither parents nor conditioning, I am persuaded that there is a precise theoretical logic in the history of painting.
"The most important dimension of painting lives in the zones of silence, emotions, and mystery created by the forms, the lines, the colors, the materials, the brushstroke, and the frailties forged by chance. No one would dare say that a painting by Rembrandt or Monet is not an accumulation of abstract passages even if there is a figure. You need simply observe the picture surface to understand the extent to which, if you isolate any given square centimeter, you are immersed in an abstract canvas."
Artist Statement of Milton Bowens
Photo of Milton Bowens from 2006 exhibition catalog
I was plodding along when a young New York artist contacted me about the stages in development of my Easter mural, "The Battle Between Carnival & Lent." He said:
"I enjoyed seeing your mind work as you showed us the stages of your work. As I invite you to view my work, I have definitely enjoyed learning of your creativitiy. - TMNK"
I went to his site and found: Nobody Was Here - A Day in the Life of an Artist
Knowledge is King
Million Dollar Baby
I wrote to the artist who calls himself "nobody." He leaves his art all over New York City, and sells his art for as little as $16.00 on ebay.
there are some painters i think you should look at:
you are not "nobody" but are somebody working within a tradition of art made by "somebodies"
Jean Philippe Arthur Dubuffet (July 31, 1901 - May 12, 1985)
Jean-Michel Basquiat (American, 1960-1988)
Romare Bearden, (1911-1988)
Tomorrow I Might Be Far Away, 1966-1967
Milton Bowens; http://www.milton510...
Strange Fruit, 2003
and, by a strange coincidence your shoe series is reminiscent of Andy Warhol's commercial graphic art
these are your brothers in the art world, your comrades. out of all of them I would pick Romare Beardon as a teacher and mentor for you... even though he is no longer with us, his work and words and teachings live on
now get yourself to the Art Student's League, and to the public library study these artists, keep working, and stop calling yourself "nobody" you are a member of a remarkable art family
TMNK, or The Man Nobody Knows, will continue to call himself "Nobody" as long as he likes, and continue to leave his artworks around New York City with the tag "Nobody Was Here." He will continue to sell his art on ebay for as little as $16.00 as well.
As I looked at his work I found very strong correspondences with some very important art traditions that course like a river through art history. And I came back to that statement from Milton Bowens:
I think that every painter is more or less obligated to re-enact, very rapidly, the entire history of painting in his or her own development - that is to understand and pass through classicism, the 19th century, the Harlem Renaissance, impressionism, surrealism, and abstraction. Contrary to the myth of the artist as an exceptional being neither parents nor conditioning, I am persuaded that there is a precise theoretical logic in the history of painting
It occured to me that it is important for the artist to place himself/herself within that river that runs through us...the great traditions in art... I was sad that an artist would call himself "nobody" and sad that art is being discarded like trash on the streets of New York. His statement on ebay: "As an artist you're nobody, until somebody buys your work. Yet, I hope I have created something that somehow connects with you. Thanks for making this "Nobody" feel like a somebody. Your support and encouragement is sincerely appreciated."
Someone on the outside of the art scene might think that TMNK is terribly pathetic and self-serving in his statement. But if you look into the work of Martin Irvine Institutional Theory of Art and the Artworld you might find that TMNK's statement is not that far out.
The artworld also provides the structure of value, prestige, and many other intangible factors that are fungible values--exchangeable for money.
What makes something an artwork is invisible: there's no "there there" outside a position in the artworld network.
What makes something an artwork is not an observable property in an artwork itself.
The work is a node in a network of forces without which it would be unrecognizable-- literally invisible
By this theory, as long as TMNK works outside the art world network his pieces remain invisible.
I really think TMNK is seriously mistaken. As an artist you are somebody, independent of how the market values you. And the work of art has intrinsic worth, regardless of the price tag, or market history. The work of art itself does not change if it is, say, given away, stored, or sold for several million. But the value of the artist in society? That's another matter, and I think TMNK makes this message clear each time he gives to the New York Streets another piece of art gone unrecognized.
The late Kurt Vonnegut's statement at a 1997 exhibition of his graphic work:
"I asked many people more committed than I am to the making of pictures by hand when it was taht their art gave them the most satisfaction. When it was framed and exhibited? When it was published or sold? When it was praised by loved ones or an important critic? When? Three of those I asked were my own daughters Edith and Nanette, and my son Mark. Few I asked were world renown.
All replied without hesitation that they were most at one with the universe when making a picture in perfect solitude. All the rest was by comparison annoying balderdash. I say that, too."
And I say that, too.