Does fame lie with the artist or the art?

My friend Fergus and I were discussing the changing role of art and artists nowadays. He brought to my attention that the name of the artist, today, is more important than their artworks. I agree. If we go back 100 years to Eduoard Manet then I believe this is when the shift started. The impressionists are more famous for their names as well as their style of painting. If you had limited knowledge about art and I showed you a painting by Manet you may recognise it but not be able to associate it with Manet or get confused about whether it was Manet or Monet... god forbid!

Think about the most famous paintings and sculptures in the world. These works can be recognised by anyone like Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. But would everyone be able to tell you who painted them? Do you need to learn about art or have some knowledge about it to know that they were painted by Leonardo da Vinci? Then look at nowadays. Think about how big names in art aren't necessarily connected with their works. David Hockney, Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst. Big names but it's their names which you could argue is more famous than their works. Yes, they may have a recognisable style but if you don't know much about art could you tell me the name of one of their works?

Art has changed in the terms that its the artist which is now more influential and important than his or her works, whereas back in the day it was the other way round. The paintings and sculptures were almost judged on their own, individual level and less connected to the artist. They were famous on their own terms rather than because of the name behind the work... that was still important but not as much as it is today.

I mean with Instagram and social media, artists can flood their works to be seen by the masses but if you're completely honest with yourself, are you reading the caption? Can you remember the name of Damien Hurst's newest piece? Probably not. But you know his name.

I feel as though the role of artists and how it's changed is something that I will write about again. Its something which I find interesting and I would like to look at its timeline in more detail! I want to hear what you think, comment your opinions on this assumption and feel free to disagree.


Photo from Pinterest
Frida Kahlo

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