Only Two

There’s only 3 things, obviously, PLACES, THINGS, and EVENTS, but for art there’s only two. What are those two? Amateur and professional? Historic and contemporary? Good and bad? No, it’s much simpler than any of that, there’s art that’s art and art that’s a commodity. The Snail (Matisse, 1953) is a commodity. It’s not a commodity ’cause anyone would have picked it up in a yard sale, not because it’s inherently valuable-even as a pretty thing to look at-which it isn’t-just because Matisse made it. A caricature from some anonymous busker on the boardwalk is a commodity too, not because of who made it but because of who wants it.

It’s not that different with pickled sharks. Only no mater what someone, a specific someone paid for that caricature, and it’s going to be recognizable as what it is as long as it’s subject exists in living memory. After that it’s going to stop being a commodity, and it might end up in the paper recycling. But then, it might not. Once it’s done being a commodity it’s still going to be art. Every single living human could die, and gods or aliens or robot archeologists could uncover that cartoonish doodle and they’d know it as art. They’d see work that’s representative but not realistic and art would be art. They’d see a toilet as a toilet, a badly preserved shark as a poorly prepared scientific specimen (if it lasted-it wont ’cause it’s very badly done) and a jumble of paper glued to a canvas as an accident.

So don’t think you gotta be poor to be an artist, don’t think you can’t sell or even sell out. Just try and make sure you make something that’s going to stay art.