Aug 22, 2023, 05:57AM

The World Doesn’t Need Another Masterpiece

You might be famous but still very dead.

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Can you imagine life without art? What about creating art in the afterlife, say heaven? Well, after you’re dead. All deals are off.  You might be famous but still very dead. Your art will sell for obscene gobs of moolah. You’ll never see a penny. Kind of like right now only much deader, with extreme poverty for eternity. You want to be an artist? Famous like Andy Warhol’s 15, if you’re lucky. A complete unknown for the rest of your miserable existence? Every single moment an eternity. Counting time by cigarette butts and empty bottles of cheap booze.

But that’s too poetic for most successful artists. Something like Michelangelo lying flat on his back upon a scaffold for years, seeing the world upside down, painting the Sistine Chapel, one brushstroke at a time. His face, eyes, and body, a fleshy abstract drop cloth of toxic paints and turpentine. By the time he finished this magnificent ceiling fresco, he was a hobbled cripple. A small sacrifice to pay for the glory of God and the holy church. There’s a convincingly good reproduction of his painting adorning the ceiling of Baltimore’s Mount Royal Tavern. A slap in the punim for classicist art snobs everywhere.

The greatest trick Satan ever conjured was convincing someone to sell their soul for the sake of high art and immortality. No money ever changed hands at the Crossroads when Robert Johnson made his deal with the devil. Only an old out-of-tune guitar and dosed bottle of poison hooch would suffice. Maybe a stiff skin parchment contract signed in blood that burst into flames afterward. Johnson never lived to see 30. Rumor has it he was murdered by a jealous husband. One of the many, from young lovers Johnson chased around every little hick town roadhouse honky-tonk he played in. It’s said he died a slow painful death drinking poisoned corn liquor. We’ll never know. It’s more a mystery than anything else. He lost his soul long before the devil arrived at that intersection. You gotta pay your dues to sing the blues. And suffer a lot too.

But is it for the sake of Art? Put the future in your capable hands and be a famous artist. That’s rich and laughable. Maybe you need a kick in the pants and a blazing fire under your ass to get your mojo up and working. There’s no reason to motivate yourself with a set of specialized skills without any tools to work with. There’s no training for new art to take on any real meaning. The world doesn’t need another masterpiece. Where’s the inspiration, the passion, to get the creative juices flowing? Chronic masturbation and extreme fatigue syndrome? there seems to be habitual jerk-offs between people who have a natural born talent versus those who don’t.

There are just as many reasons for failure as success. It only takes one big break in the art world to secure your seat at the table of high-end art gallery sales. Making a name for yourself, what’s called branding today, is just as elusive as the act of creating something unique. A matter of the right-place, right-time, dumb-luck syndrome. Oh, that’s a painting by so and so. You can tell by the subject matter. Don’t quit your day job, kid. In my experience I’ve known too many artists who create great art, only to have it hidden away in a costly storage locker. The accumulated dust of decades, rodent and insect infestation and neglect are the only friends of the artist’s lifelong pursuit to create something from nothing for nobody.

Like the cartoon ad says, you’ll get fame, wealth, beautiful lovers, and a brief respite from the terror of dying. And an opportunity to alter the course of cultural history for a measly quarter. Where do I sign up? I want to be at all the best parties like Andy W. Ninety percent of all artists fail, but don’t let that hinder your progress. It’s a hit or miss game. Chances are slim to none. Failure’s always optional, but don’t stop there. Fail better than the average schlub. All the splendor of debauchery and squalor awaits you. Don’t take my word for it. Discover the wonderful world of the arts for yourself. You may live to regret it, but it’ll never be dull. Don’t be a mediocre bore, do it today. Send 25 cents to me at: Be an Artist, Box 42, Hohokus NJ. Don’t delay.


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