Are artists custodians of our treasured traditions or trail blazers for our future aspirations?
Watching an art history documentary left me pondering this question. Take for example the artistic movements of this centuary and the last.
Impressionists were excluded from influential Parisian exhibitions, early rock and roll was considered by many as a sin and an unruly young woman’s ‘unmade bed’ was a glorious joke for the popular 90’s media. However, Monet’s water lilies are among the most loved and reproduced artworks in the world, Elvis was called the King and Tracey Emin is now a professor of drawing at the London RA. In a wonderful irony they have all become reveared mainstream and nostalgic representations of their time. More importantly they have triggered mind shifts in opinions and beliefs held by the man in the street. How has this come about?
Surely it is down to more than luck or change in taste. For many years these people were ridiculed and lambasted by society. Sadly some died before recognition of their work came. It is my belief that part of the creative gene is a compulsion to look at the world differently and an overpowering drive to explore and push boundaries. For this reason, to be a true artist you must also be willing to be a trail blazer!