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Art as “Show” Business

It is said that Andy Warhol didn’t actually do his artworks with his own hands.  He had a crew of lackeys that he bossed and instructed in much the same way that Michelangelo did, or as an advertising art director directs the actual artists, but does not actually do any art personally.  So it must be the “show” that brings in the patrons that pay.

Warhol’s ridiculous toupee, his erotic parties and more were part of a calculated marketing plan.  Similarly in prizefighting, Cassius Clay cum Mohammad Ali was a bigger hit as a personality than as a fighter… but he was still a helluva fighter.  However, would he have been as sensational a showman if he was morose and shy?  I think not.

Elvis Presley was different: he could sing, he could move, he had a fabulous profile, but when not performing his personality was bland and boring.  I think he must have been not too bright.  He was all show, but there was nothing going on backstage in his brain.  Frank Sinatra, on the other hand, was totally genuine.  A character, a raconteur, a roustabout and risk-taker.  His talent was spectacular, his lifestyle was rambunctious, and he was a genuine guy, be it on stage, on film, on record, or on the town. Francis Albert Sinatra was the real goods.

There are, at any given moment, anywhere in the world, talented artists, performers, authors, and even business people, who are superior to the famous, successful, sought-after individuals who occupy the limelight. They just have not yet got the critical break, not been in the right place at the right time.  Obviously, people with ambition to be the star in the spotlight will do everything they can to be in the right place when – or if – the right time comes along.

Some individuals simply do their “art” happily alone, in solitude, writing, painting, singing, whatever the field of endeavor, they might never get to the “show” part of their work – and many will never care to have the show.

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