It was Camus who said about materialistic people, when writing to an American lover, “I know…that you will never become the dead soul covered in mink…that every American woman, or nearly every one of them, aspires to be.” He wrote that in the 40s, a different time from now, and yet too much of it still holds true. I see it with regularity in the eyes of certain people who cross my gallery’s threshold–women or men, American, European or Asian. The unalive, trying to buy life back with a checkbook. Do I pity them? No, I just feel sorry for them.
This is a collision point for many artists, who often despise the rich, and yet must court their favor if they wish to survive by selling work. Are all the rich this way? No. Many are humble, generous, grateful, and down-to-earth. As for the rest, well: neurotic, insecure, desperate, always seeking approval, and often bending others (their employees) to their will in lieu of approval. Sure I see a great deal of this. Sure it disgusts me: the selfishness, the blatant greed, the treating of artists as a commodity to bargain for rather than as people to be respected. How do I respond? Diplomatically. My job is to sell art, to help win respect for the artist, and for the artist’s plight. You don’t do that by judging the unbalanced. You do that by being kind to them–albeit a kindness backed by a certain firmness. This is always my manner. In the meantime I just give thanks for the fact that I’m self-employed, and can chuck anyone out the freaking door that I choose to.
Painting above by Thea Ide. Oil on panel (not acrylic). How I love subtlety.