Artists' Life Lessons

The saying goes that art is not for everyone. Or something. There is a lot of myth surrounding the elusive idea of what "art" is and somewhere, someone down the line made the universal decision that art is simply not something that everyone can understand. In order to get to grips with culture, they said, you have to be able to think in a certain way, to see things that are not immediately apparent, to live on the sidelines of society. Art is, apparently, for the select few and those who don't "get it" are not really welcome.

Of course, this is utter tripe. The entire concept of art and culture is that it is for everybody and no matter your reaction to a certain piece of exhibition, there is no wrong way in which to think or feel. Artists put their work out there for everybody to enjoy, in any way that they wish.

The figure of the artist is a strange thing. Floating somewhere on the sidelines, they are indelibly a part of their work, without dominating it. Through their work, however, we can learn things about the way in which they feel and the things that they want us to feel. Artists have a few life lessons of their own to share with us and if we look closely enough, we can just make out what it is they want us to know.

Ai Weiwei
Perhaps one of the most infamous artists of recent times, Ai Weiwei has made the headlines over the years for his politically charged pieces and artistic stunts. He was held in police custody for a period of 81 days for what officials have called "economic crimes". Still, he is unafraid of airing his opinion. In order to get things done, we must not be afraid to tell others what we think and to stick to our own judgement, even when it can seem hard. Of course, it might not be in everyone's best interests for you to be outspoken all of the time but when it really counts, our voice matters more than anything else we could do.

Sophie Calle
Earlier in this blog, I took a look at some of the work released by French video artist Sophie Calle. Her projects normally involve her taking familiar objects or behaviours and turning them upside down, either looking at them in completely different ways or scrutinising them more closely than others have done before. In order to get the best out of ourselves and our projects, it pays to change our perspective and consider every angle before we go forward. Following the paths of others might seem like the safe option but when it comes to growth and change, we must think a little differently.

Bill Viola
Bill Viola's works are characterised by their ability to look at a situation consistently and patiently. Where others would make edits and cuts, Viola keeps on filming, allowing a situation to play out in natural time. By looking at the work of Viola, we are reminded that patience is one of the most important skills that we can adopt in business. The best kind of change happens over a period of time and if we push it, or become impatient, we could miss the very best things.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder
Used throughout history as a representation of mastery of craft, Bruegel's paintings are some of the most famous in the world. Depicting frenetic city scenes and hives of activity, they painstakingly reveal events in action. Painted largely from a birdseye view perspective, Bruegel's works show the vast detail that we can comprehend when we take a step back and the scope that it is possible to take in.

William Klein
A photographer known primarily for his work on the streets of New York, William Klein is considered one of the leading artists in his field, capturing a slice of reality that few have done since. Klein's ability to react within a split second has meant that he was able to produce some of the most authentic and vibrant photographic work out there. If we want to produce something of worth, then, we must be alert to what is going on around us. Minute changes can make all of the difference and if we keep our eyes open, there's no telling what we could create.