Sunday, 10 April 2011

Artists Status

1. Identify aspects of Durer's self portrait that show a changing view of the artist's view of himself as an individual. 

Self Portrait in Fur Coat (1500), Albrecht Durer
Dürer seemed fascinated by his own image. He was well aware of his audience and painted his image to project an air of importance, to create perhaps, an increased social status (the self-portrait as a projection of self, ). The picture is proudly inscribed: 'Thus I, Albrecht Durer from Nuremburg, painted myself with indelible colours at the age of 28 years' (Albrecht Durer, This shows his opinion of himself as an individual and unique from other artists. It also promotes himself as an artist by stating that he painted it and it’s his work, done his way.  His changing view of himself as an individual and an artist can be seen as in this showing how he thinks of himself as an important individual and a talented artist. He is not just an ordinary artist like everyone else; he is special and can produce art in a certain style and way, unique and different. He has portrayed himself in “imitation Christi”, in imitation of Christ. Durer deliberately set out to create a Christ-like image as a was a statement of faith, (Albrecht Durer, which shows his individual religious views. Portraying himself in a likeness to Christ he acknowledges his religion and his beliefs as well as showing his belief that his artistic skills were a God-given talent.

2. Explain how the artist's social status increased during the Renaissance period. Briefly explain why this happened.
During the Renaissance a revival of classical texts and art led to the discovery of theses on mathematical and scientific ways to composition and construct an artwork. As these were techniques and methods were applied in art making and required intellectual thought, painters, sculptors and architects wanted to attain recognition for their professions as liberal arts. This meant that their work was not just a craftsman skill but also required intelligence and the implementation of scientific methods. With their new scientific methods they began to claim superiority over mere craftsmen, and tried to establish for themselves a better social position (Blunt, A. 1962). This meant that there was a crucial shift from the artists as mere artisan belonging to a craft guild to the artist as a creative and learned personality, admired not just for acquired skills but also for innate ability what we might today call creative genius (Barker et al, 1999). There was a high value on imagination, originality, spontaneity, creativity and self-expression and that art should reflect the individual sensibility of the creator. The rising status of the artist during the Renaissance was a kind of reaction to the loss of any precise social function for art and resulting in the marginalization of the artists (Barker et al, 1999). Artist of the time began asserting an individual reputation that set them apart from other members of their profession. The idea of belonging to a guild or workshop as a fundamental unit of production, with works being more or less collaboration, began to deteriorate as shown by Francesco del Cassa’s complaint of all artist working on a set of fresco paintings for the Duke at the Schifanoia Palace were being paid by the same rate per square foot of wall regardless of reputation. Cenneno Cennini’s treatise of how apprenticeships shouldn’t be where new artists copy another artists work to create a uniform workshop style but so that the aspiring artist should eventually develop his own individual style had a large impact on the social status of the artist (Barker et al, 1999). However the attainment of status cannot simply be attributed to individual ‘greatness’ of an artist. A crucial role was played by transformations in artistic patronage during the Renaissance, when the expanding power and wealth of Italian rulers such as the Medici were taking place enabling artists to escape from control of guilds and work as court artists, creating a name for themselves as individuals with their own style.

3. Comment on Gavin Turk's work in relation to individualism, status of the artist and egotism.
Knob (1997) Gavin Turk
Gavin Turk’s work shows individualism through the use of his name alone. No one else has his name and it is individual in itself as a symbolic representation of him. Reading the name on the screen print you automatically think about that person whose name it is and why they chose to portray their name in such a way.  He considers this work portraiture (British Council, 2009) By printing his name as this artwork he is attempting to validate his importance to society (British Council, 2009, Gavin Turk (1967-) his themes of authorship, authenticity and identity, often lead to him casting himself as the main subject of his work. This shows his opinion of his status as an artist as an important person and also of his egotism of his love for himself and thoughts of high priority in society. (British Council, 2009, Gavin Turk (1967-) it shows status of the artist and his want for recognition for his artwork and society to think him accomplished and as a high ranking artist.

4. Comment on Damien Hirst's use of his work and the media for self promotion.
Damien Hirst and Maia Norman (1995)
For Damien Hirst “it is the recognition... that counts.” He feels sorry for artists like Van Gogh, whose works never sold until he was dead and became famous (Brooks, 2010). He seems to crave fame and acknowledgement over people thinking he is an amazing and talented artist. He uses his work which is often controversial to get his name out there and known. The more objection and controversy the more the media will pick up on it and spread his name around society and get him to the status of a household name and British art icon. For instance his Two F***ing and Two Watching, a rotting cow and bull, was banned in New York for fears of ‘vomiting among the visitors” (Encyclopedia of Art, 2011). He never does anything quietly, always in the media and promoting his name out there.

5. Find 2 images of work by artists or designers that reflects some of the ideas of individualism, self promotion or egotism that have been discussed on this blog.
These designs are by fashion designers Yves Saint Lauren and Louis Vuitton. They like Turk’s screen Print show individualism by the use of their own names on most designs they produce. They also show self promotion as when seen in society the designer can be identified straight away from just looking at the design. They promote the brand and name behind it whenever seen. The idea of people buying a work purely based on the name associated with it as is such in the world of fashion promotes egotism. It makes the designer a house hold name based not necessarily on design or function but by name and media coverage based on popularity.

6. How do you think artists and designers are viewed in Western society today?
I think art and design is a crucial part of western society. It is why we like what we buy, use, have, etc. We may have it because we like the design, name associated or functionality of the piece created. Artists are viewed, I think, a little more creative and ‘artsy’ than designers in society but I feel that designers include art into their designs and are as much artists as painters or sculptors.

·         The self-portrait as a projection of self.

·         Blunt, A. (1962) The Social Position of the Artist. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press

·         Barker, E., Webb, N. & Woods, K. (1999). Historical introduction: the idea of the artist. In Barker, E., Webb, N. & Woods, K. (eds.), The Changing state of the Artist (pp. 7-25). London: Open University.

·         British Council. (2009) Gavin Turk.

·         British Council. (2009) Gavin Turk (1967 −.

·         Brooks, R. (2010, March 28). It’s the fame I crave, says Damien Hirst.

·         Encyclopedia of Art. (visited 2011) Damien Hirst (b1965).


  1. I agree completely with what you have said about Durer in question one. Durer was a forerunner of his time as traditionally only Gods and Kings were painted in the front on view. Commoners and normal folk were painted in the 3 point angle as this was respectful to those who were grand and respected enough to be painted front on. Obviously for Durer to paint himself in this way he must has a high view of himself.

    Another thing I like about your blog post is what you have chosen as the 2 art works from designers that use indivualism, egotism and self promotion in their works - the 2 bags by Louis Vuitton and YSL do reflect on these ideas to a great extent. Great job.

  2. Yes, we can find Albrecht Durer’s changing view of himself through comparing from the fist self-portrait to this portrait. The ‘like Christ image’ shows his religious views that seem to give himself a high value. I think his aggressive representation has a great significance in the Renaissance that also helped him to improve the look of social conduct. Classical wealth is changed with contemporary artistic expressions that some designer’s obsession shows to express extreme individualism through harmony classical wealthy and artistic expressions. However, I agree art and design is a vital part of the western society.

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  4. I love the comment you made about Hirst seeming “to crave fame and acknowledgement over people thinking he is an amazing and talented artist.” I like this because I think a lot of his work is horrible. I also believe a lot of his so called fame has arisen for infamy because like you said his work can create controversy.

  5. Wow you had really good work and research. I agree Durer’s self-portrait showing his talent and promote his self by his knowledge and painting skill. You had many good describe quotes. By the way, I like this, “He seems to crave fame and acknowledgement over people thinking he is an amazing and talented artist.” I think its some bit is true and I felt nice joke..
    Your answer Q5 is really good example and I strongly agree it, that reflects some of the ideas of individualism, self promotion or egotism

  6. i like the way u said that hirst work is often liked as it crates controversy.I like his art as its very unusual yet realistic.