Why you should hide your graduate degree and burn your artist statement

I was recently re-reading some of art critic Dave Hickey’s hilariously titled Air Guitar, a book of essays on “art and democracy.” If you are an artist or just interested in art and culture, I would highly recommend it.

Dave Hickey retired the end of last year, apparently in disgust at how stupid (his word) the art world had become. Among other things, he is not a fan of the trend towards graduate degrees for artists and critics alike.

I have always loved hearing him say that because, hey, I chose not to get a graduate degree!

But also because I was never drawn to art as an intellectual exercise, and watching things go down that path has been very strange. Kind of like if we suddenly required popular musicians to have graduate degrees and the people who wrote about them to be professors.

Let me be clear: I am not against anyone getting a graduate degree if they want one, but I find it hilarious to think of it as a requirement for doing meaningful work.

Another major American art critic who I love, Peter Schjeldahl, is not retiring, thankfully, but it turns out he is not a fan of artist statements.

And hey, that’s good news for me, too, because I hate writing artist statements!

And I am sorry, but there is a reason most of them either stink or severely limit the work: because it is artwork, not word work. As Mr. Schjeldahl says, leave the words to him, that’s his job.

So, down with the intellectualization of art! And for fun, you can generate your own random artist statement over at artybollocks.com.

Here is part of what it came up with for me:

With influences as diverse as Munch and Roy Lichtenstein, new combinations are distilled from both orderly and random layers.

Hmmm, I may use that…

In the meantime, here are some of my unintellectual drawings for you.


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