Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Size-ism in Art?

I was somewhat confused after receiving the following response from submitting images of the Zen Flower paintings below:

The response:

"I like the idea but maybe the women should be a little more attractive. She looks a little like a body builder with the thick neck and huge shoulders!! It may be that you don’t like archetype figures but they do sell better."


I know this was someone just expressing their thoughts honestly. I'm not upset. I developed my thick skin long ago. I would understand (and quickly shake off) a simple "I'm sorry, I don't think those would work." or "Those don't do anything for me." But the criticism/suggestion is very specific and coming from someone who by now should be somewhat familiar with my work so I am a bit perplexed. I can't recall ever painting delicate female figures. The thick and curvaceous/larger than life/earth-mother-ish imagery is part of my whole "thing". It's even explained in my Artist Statement.

The critique is also coming from someone experienced in Art Marketing so my intent is not to be dismissive or to imply it isn't sound. I've always been aware that art is no different from any other business, but I guess the romantic in me considered its subjects immune to your typical concerns of size and beauty. Oh, foolish me.

I have no immediate plans on changing my style (or my women). I'm not saying I will never feel inspired to paint slim figures, but in my Latin Pop work, slim women will always be outnumbered by larger ones.

What would Leger and Botero paintings be without large women??

Ok, rant over.


Anonymous said...

Leger and Botero immediately popped into my mind... as well as Ruebens' plump bodied women. - "A little more attractive" WHAT? From where is this person determining the definition of an "archetype figure"?

In your paintings I see bright colors, lively patterns and pleasing shapes. The story is meditation and relaxation in tune with nature. Body building women never entered my mind.

I think I would rather receive a personal response as this person wrote... then to receive a flat unexplained rejection.

Martha Marshall said...

A detailed critique can sting sometimes even when you know you're right or better informed than the critic.

But yeah, Chewy has a point. I always want to know why my work isn't chosen for a gallery or show, and you don't always get that kind of information.

John G. said...

I'm on the fence about wanting to know the specifics of why. It depends on what I'm submitting to and what I'm trying to accomplish.
If it's something that I would like to further attempt, sure I want to know what different approach I might take to achieve this.
If it's regarding a sale, or being accepted into a gallery, usually not so much, because if it involves changing my work, it's probably not going to happen. This is one of the very few areas in which I might be considered a stubborn artist (though I don't really look at it that way LOL!).

What I find puzzling in this instance is that this is coming from someone who has already chosen work of mine where the subjects fit the very descriptions in the critique given.