Monday, April 07, 2008
The Failed Artist
I was at a dinner party a while ago, sitting next to a magazine editor. She was interested in my year abroad as an artist, and told me that her ex was a “failed artist.” Meaning, she explained, he’d made it to 60 and never achieved the success he’d hoped. Awful, but let’s not mince words, most of us artists will end up like this.
I wonder if this editor had given her former mate this moniker, or had he labeled himself? It takes so long before we can say we are “Artists” (it’s a role we feel we have to earn, somehow). And then what do we have, 20 years to make it? 30? And what makes us a success? Selling? Gallery representation? Small regional museum show? Tenure track position in academia? Respect from our peers? Not starving? If we earn a modicum of fame, must we maintain it?
And what does it mean to say the father of your children (cause she had grown kids) is Failed? That she was a success? That she had chosen to be responsible, a business woman, while he had chased dreams unsuccessfully? The whole thing smelled, like being with someone who drops names or flouts toys.