Deep Thought Thursday

It’s the artist’s responsibility to be interesting.Matthew Ritchie

Excerpted from this longer quote:

Bringing art to the people–this has been accomplished on an epic scale. If many don’t understand contemporary art, that is no different from most people not understanding the latest developments in physics and foreign policy. . . . [It’s] the artist’s responsibility to be interesting. This is a totally voluntary, reciprocal environment on both sides. The world needs art only as much as artists need the world to see it. Everyone is a player. I don’t believe in “the audience,” I believe in individuals and never underestimating their potential, and so far, I have not been disappointed.

Matthew Ritchie in an interview In the Making: Creative Options for Contemporary Art by Linda Weintraub

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16 comments to Deep Thought Thursday

  • Casey Klahn

    Wolf Kahn, if I remember correctly, had a slightly different take on this subject . He denigrated a teacher for once telling art students to make “interesting lines”. His reasoning was that it wasn’t helpful for the artist to put his audience first above his own intentions in creating. Something to ponder.

  • Casey – I suppose it depends on from who’s point of view those lines are to be interesting if Kahn’s denigration makes sense. Should an artist make lines that are interesting to themselves? I certainly look to make art I personally find interesting. And while it’s nice when others agree it’s not a prerequisite for me to make the work. Although it’s probably required for the audience to like the work. Maybe successful artist are those where what interests them also interests a large number of others. So is it best to be mainstream in that sense?

  • It is the artist’s responsibility to be INTERESTING? I’m sorry–what kind of an inane statement is that? That’s worse than my 10 second introduction!HA HA The rest of the statement is not any better. Hey, it’s just my opinion! Whatever. Christine

  • Ritchie makes a solid point: Sure, first the work has to interest the artist, but it also has to interest a viewer too. The problem is—”interesting” is absolutely subjective….which makes his point, for lack of a better word, pointless. ;)~

  • Hi Alyson, I heard a twist on this quote. At a recent workshop the instructor told a student “Making art is no excuse for boring people.” He was only half joking–his point being that too many people create art without substance, relying too much on technique and not enough on a sincere personal statement.

  • Well, this gets right to the heart of the matter, doesn’t it? If it’s not the Artist’s obligation to be interesting, than is it the audience’s obligation to be interestED? A silly idea, right? If art is communication (as I think it is), then the individuals who comprise the “audience” will either get it, or not … the success of the artist as communicator is determined by his success in getting his concepts across to the viewer. To do that he/she has to get their attention first- i.e., create interest.

  • Casey: I don’t think Kahn’s take is that different. I think Ritchie is saying that you can’t make art to please a huge number of people. It has to be interesting in and of itself. Lisa: I think if art is interesting (very interesting) to the artist who made it, that artist can share it better than if it was only so-so. And what is “mainstream”? I really don’t think that exists. You have people who think they’re making art for “the market” (again, whatever that is) and those who make art for “the art world.” Two very different mainstreams.

  • Christine: Tell us WHY you think that is inane. This is another (very successful) artist saying this. Kesha: Good point :) . I go back to my thought that it must be–above all–interesting to the artist. And I would go even further. The artist must be fascinated by it and thrilled to share it. Peggi: I couldn’t agree more. You can tell when art comes from the soul. David: Well put.

  • I initially read this quote a different way: The ARTIST has a responsibility to be interesting, as in personality, or a character or author of the Story behind the work. The metaphor of flirtation or seduction comes to mind, as more precise than “interesting”.

  • OK—First of all, it is very poorly written. What is he even saying? It’s a bunch of sentences strung together that don’t really explain a thought. My high school English teacher would have her red pencil out in full force. If you’re going to pontificate about your own art, (or anyone else’s, for that matter), then I think it’s the artist’s responsibility to be CLEAR. I don’t know anything about Matthew Ritchie, and this statement of his does not entice me to investigate. It appears to be another example of someone with a lot of self confidence and chutzpah, “just talking to hear himself talk”, as my mother used to say–and not really saying anything. When he says “I don’t believe in the audience”–that to me is about the clearest thing he said—but then he goes on to say something about individuals that doesn’t make any sense. And the first statement about the “artist’s responsibility” seems to negate “I don’t believe in an audience”.????Gertrude Stein once said (maybe to Hemmingway, I can’t remember) that “Remarks are not literature”, and in this case, they are hardly worth the time spent in reading them & trying to figure out what the heck he’s talking about. What planet is this guy on? Christine

  • Christine: I don’t think you’re being fair. This was an interview–not his writing. He was responding–probably speaking–to the interviewer. I’m sorry that isn’t clear and I’ll clarify that right now. Also, I took it out of context of the rest of the interview and even that paragraph (notice the . . . .) . Looks like I pushed a button which is what Deep Thought Thursday is about. If you want to rant, rant about me and what I chose to take out of his interview, not about the artist who was speaking in a different context.

  • ” You will live in interesting times…” is a Chinese curse…I was re-watching ‘Art School Confidential’ & there is a funny interview with a famous artist who states , ” you are probably wondering what it takes to be a great artist, ” (he pauses for effect as the art students lean in to hear the secret) ” in order to be a great artist, you must be … a great artist ” …the rest of the movie is pretty funny too – full of artist cliches …(it ain’t Fellini but who is ?)

  • Sorry, Alyson, that you think I’m not being fair. Yes, it might make a big difference to see the whole interview. But you’re putting something up & asking what we think…….& like I said before–it’s only my opinion. You wanted me to clarify my initial statements & I did that—I don’t consider that to be ranting. Christine

  • Sari: I wish I had gotten more out of that movie. I don’t remember a thing about it! Christine: Forgive the misunderstanding. I didn’t mean ranting in a bad way. I guess it can have negative connotations, but I didn’t think of it that way. And I have accepted responsibility for putting only a a single quote up. But I guess those are the limitations of necessarily taking something out of context. All: I guess the bigger question is: What does it mean to be interesting? And to have that responsibility. I guess I’m just reading the quote differently and in a more positive light.

  • I don’t think interesting is the right word……..for one thing, as Kesha pointed out earlier, the word “interesting” is too subjective. Personally, I would say that an artist has a responsiblity to be AUTHENTIC—whatever that means to the artist. But that is MY take…and I really have no idea what he meant by saying “interesting”.

  • Sylvia Tucker

    Semantics….. I have always felt that one of the deepest compliments I can give is that something is interesting – meaning fascinating, compelling, or just curious. Once during a 2nd grade art class, a boy showed me a wonderfully complex painting. “Wow, that’s really interesting!” I said. His friend in the next chair leaned over and quietly told him, “That’s what they always say when they don’t like it.” From the comments above, I suspect people are coming from both camps, those who think “interesting” is a good thing, and those who don’t.