It's time to start a series of what I'm learning from this #deadartistssociety project. I know I need to begin writing this because I'm already forgetting things! And then when I sat down to write this post, I got overwhelmed...because I'm learning so many things.
First let me share my theory going into this. Now keep in mind the artists that I've studied here on the blog before this project. The two I've probably spent the most time on are Basquiat and Warhol. So most likely this theory was based them and my preconceived notions of Frida Kahlo.
I thought going into this that successful artists craft a story about themselves. They highlight certain things, downplay others, and create a persona. I wondered if maybe the stereotype that artists are eccentric was true or that at least they put on a public facade.
As I research I'm looking for clues about that idea. I think that's probably somewhat true for Frida Kahlo. I don't think it holds at all for Lois Jones. Which leads to me my first lesson!
Lesson #1: Everyone is crafting a story about artists. In fact, that's a problem for me. For example, there are many, many biographies of Georgia O'Keeffe and they say slightly (and sometimes very) different things. Authors are writing biographies based on their interpretation of interviews, paintings, events, etc. In fact, we are all interpreting all the time. Those interpretations create a story or a persona for the artist. The more you know about an artist perhaps more nuanced the interpretation.
I am also crafting a story for each artist. I choose which things I share, which paintings, which quotes, which anecdotes. If you know nothing about an artist, like say Lois Jones, and then you read my posts, you only have the story that I crafted about her.
Lesson #2: Having photographer friends and allowing them to take your photo is a good thing for your art career. And marrying a fellow creative doesn't hurt either. Both Frida and Georgia knew how to pose for a photograph and were very comfortable in front of the camera.
Frida Kahlo married Diego Riveria and that certainly helped her career. Frida's father was a photographer and she was photographed often including a series by Gisèle Freund that is now a book of its own. Lois Jones married graphic artist Louis Vergniaud Pierre-Noel and though Lois's work is more famous than his, he did give her advice and opinions that helped her along the way. Unfortunately most of the photos of Lois are related to newspaper/magazine articles and her work with the university. Georgia did it all one go. She married Alfred Stieglitz, a famous creative who was also a photographer. He made over 350 photographs of her. Georgia was also photographed by other famous photographers like Ansel Adams and Todd Webb.
Lesson #3: It's perfectly ok to make many, many paintings that look almost the same. Reiterate over and over. I'm pretty familiar with the idea of working in a series but this is more than that. This is making paintings that are very similar, just minor changes among them. Frida has a series of self portraits but just look at how many have her with her monkey and leaves in the background?!
Lois Jones repeated certain elements across paintings and stuck with the same color scheme.
And this is Georgia O'Keeffe's Light Coming on the Plain series.
These are just a few examples but as an artist you don't need to reinvent every single piece. Rework and repeat often.
Three lessons is good for today but I'll be back again with more lessons learned from the Dead Artists Society. :)