Artists: Do your own work. And why ateliers suck.

Some people out there who call themselves artists and make a lot of money at it never touch the work that bears their names except to sign it.  If they even bother doing that.

Their defenders insist that there’s nothing wrong with this, because historically artists worked in atelier systems where a stableful of apprentices created the work under the guidance of the artist, who got the credit.

Garden at Vaucresson by Edouard Vuillard

Garden at Vaucresson by Edouard Vuillard, who painted this all by himself

History fetishists seem to think that just because something has been done in the past by a lot of people means that it’s a good idea, or at least an acceptable one.  By that logic, slavery would be OK.   It would even be preferable, since slavery has a far longer pedigree than freedom.

That’s what the historical atelier was, basically:  slavery.  The apprentice slaved to please an often tyrannical master who did little of the work and reaped all of the profit.  The apprentice supposedly got an education out of the deal but little else.

Don’t let the glamour cast by historians obscure the facts: the atelier was, and is, a sweatshop of art.

Continue reading

Gratuitous Penguin of the Day

Adelie Penguin photo by Brendan Van Son

Penguin Walk, photo by Brendan Van Son

If you’re just waking up and need something adorable to lift your spirits while you drink your coffee, try this photo essay about Antarctic penguins by my affable Canadian twitter pal Brendan Van Son.