One of the interesting things about being an artist is that some of us have produced and published a manifesto. I reckon that my Mum would have been amazed and proud that her first-born could have a ‘manifesto’ After all you don’t see a hard working plumber or accountant or greengrocer with a manifesto, do you.
So what on earth is it? Why do some artists have one?
And, why is it, that up to now, I don’t actually have one myself? Sorry Mum.
I have been in the art game full-time for over half a century. I haven’t written a serious artist’s manifesto myself. I have been reluctant to do so. But other artists seem to see a need. So I looked it up.
Wikipedia has something to say… ‘An art manifesto is a public declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of an artist or artistic movement.’ …
- Hmm! Public declaration eh?
Wikipedia. ‘Manifestos typically consist of a number of statements, which are numbered or in bullet points and which do not necessarily follow logically from one to the next.’…
- So that is the format. But why no logic?
Wikipedia. ‘The art manifesto has two main goals. The first is to define and criticize a paradigm in contemporary art or culture; the second is to define a set of aesthetic values to counter this paradigm.’…
- Oh crikey! Paradigm? Aesthetic values that counter a paradigm! I just make pictures.
Wikipedia. ‘Historically, there has been a strong parallel between the art manifesto and the political manifesto.’ …
- This all gets rather serious and probably why it hasn’t appealed to me, so far.
OTHER ART MANIFESTOS
But Wikipedia goes on to list a whole bunch of art-group manifestos, and some individual-artist ones.
Many are serious, but others are parodies and quite amusing. And they reveal to me a difficult truth…that is…that I don’t really know why I am an artist or what my art is about.
By that, I mean that I cannot easily explain my art to anyone else, in words.
Instead I rely on the art itself to get into my viewers mind, and appeal, or make sense.
However… If I had a manifesto then it might be much easier for me to communicate with potential collectors, dealers, critics, investors, art lovers, other artists, bank managers, neighbors, family, friends, etc..
Or would it?
That quick list of people, who might read my manifesto, reveals to me that I make my art for a range of different people, with different motives and purposes.
And of course I make it for me.
M1. So here is my manifesto for… art lovers, collectors, critics etc.
- Art is a huge, complicated, wonderful, experience.
- Visual art is about creating, or capturing, visual records that are ‘good’.
- Colour, texture, subject, balance, shape, contrast, size, are all involved.
M2. And here is my manifesto for … dealers, bank managers etc.
- I am a dedicated full-time professional artist.
- I try to be an efficient, small, one-man, business as well.
- It is possible to be all the above.
M3. And here is one for… family, neighbours and friends etc.
- In most things I am not much different to everybody else.
- But an artist needs a bit more leeway please.
- Don’t keep asking me for free drawings and paintings.
M4. Finally a manifesto for… other artists, and myself…
- Inherit some wealth, or marry someone rich, or win the pools.
- Or, enjoy a wonderful hobby. [see M1.]
- Or, enjoy M1, and combine with equal emphasis on M2.
There we are. My twelve bullet pointed manifesto.
Not very much about aesthetic values countering a paradigm.
I hope that helps.