Thought Row Episode 6: Vanity of Art

Posted by Inci Johnson on

Thought Row Episode 6: Vanity of Art 

Show Notes: 

R: Hi everybody...welcome to the Thought Row podcast. We start our podcast with a quote from Inci. What is our quote for the day.


I: Okay here is our quote for the day.

Quote: The art of a people is a true mirror to their minds - J. Nehru


R: Today we are going to talk about the Vanity of art. You may think it's vain to be vain. 


I: I can just imagine the Mona Lisa in the privacy of her boudoir, "Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the most famous woman of all."

And no one would be surprised if the mirror responded to the lovely Mona, "Of course you are my dear, and you may always be!"


R: Famous works of art share one thing in common, they have all earned the right to project vanity. 

R: These works of art constantly receive praise, not only from those who have the honor to stand before them, but think about all of the written histories outlining how they were made and by whom.


I: If you were the actual painting created by Leonardo da Vinci of the Mona Lisa, and you were hanging in the Louvre in Paris, and every day the museum was open, you would be looking out over a sea of humanity, lobbying for a perfect position to capture you and them in a selfie. 


R: Now there you may find some social media vanity of the infamous; "I was there, see here's proof for all my friends and followers to see."

R: Both Inci and I had the good fortune to see the Mona Lisa at the Louvre. Two things stood out, one - it’s a very small painting, albeit an excellent one. Secondly, although we got there early, the crowds grew significantly. 

R: And then the picture seems like everyone in the world wants a photograph of them in front of the Mona Lisa. Which in some respects is kind of sad, because there is a huge amount of spectacular art throughout the Louvre. 


I: I also remember when Rod & I stood in front of the statue of David created by Michelangelo, located in the Accademia Gallery of Florence. Now there is some vanity proudly on display. It overpowers all mere mortals and can be the source of much envy. 

I: There's only one way to photograph this monolithic man and that is straight up... If you're lucky when you create a selfie, you will capture your head and most of his torso, it's hard to get back far enough to do much else.


R: Rod comment - You don’t really realize just what a great chunk of marble he carved out a tower of a man. 


I: The artist to create these masterful works of art have the most vain-ish thoughts once they complete the work, especially as they witness much profound admiration.

I: Of course it's well-deserved, if you stand before the Pieta in St. Peter's Basilica Vatican City, you may lose your breath. It's beyond astonishing and hard to believe one man created it with a chisel and a mallet.


R: It’s pretty amazing the Vatican has one of the largest collections of art in the world. 

I: Now let’s fast forward a few hundred years and you have contemporary artists…


R: Like Jackson Pollock...and his famous work entitled, Number 1 (Lavender Mist). The colors alone reeked of vanity, but not so much for the artist, he was a tortured man, experiencing the highest highs and the lowest lows. 

R: When he was featured in Life magazine he basked in the glory. That issue featured a cover photo of Betty Parsons, who was an early promoter of Abstract Expressionism. 

R: It gave the readers, especially struggling artists, something to envy, with every desire to be in total possession of their own creative vanity.


I: And...You may be thinking that we skipped over Vincent van Gogh or perhaps even Picasso or the artist that demonstrated vanity in its highest form: Rembrandt, the one who painted a portrait of himself nearly every year of his life. 

I:Was that vanity or was he just being a good documentarian for future art critics to discuss?


R: Rod comments - If anything you have the opportunity to watch him age. 


I: Okay, so Vincent van Gogh was a famous artist and arguably one of the best, although Cezanne is considered to be one of the greatest, and he didn't have to fiddle with bandaging his right ear.

R: It’s hard to say what the real truth was regarding Van Gogh and his partially severed ear. Rumor has it there was a woman involved. 

I: Whatever caused it, it made him even more famous, so much so he even created a painting with his head bandaged. 


R: I put a male artist and a woman artist at the top of the vanity tree, and I'm sure there will be plenty of, "Oh yeah’s," in these two prominent artists ...they are Pablo Picasso and Georgia O'Keefe. Both creatively notorious, and both were not shy about their successes. 

R: One used her vanity to keep her sister from ever becoming an artist. The other used his notoriety to keep the mother of two of his children Claude and Paloma from ever having the art world shine its lights on her. 

R: But later in her life Françoise Gilot became a highly respected artist, by the way I had the opportunity to meet with her some years ago when she was married to Jonas Salk, the guy who helped save the world from the devastating disease of polio.


I: The vanities in the art world have no shortcomings. 

I: Vanity is a free agent and can possess an actual painting itself, and the artist that created it. 

I: At the top of that vanity triad,  just maybe the collector, the one that can spend millions on works of art at auction.


R: Every artist is vain, they may not be quick to acknowledge that; after all it does take a lot of courage and skill to create a pleasing work of art, no matter what the medium. 

R:When the creator is sequestered in the studio and no one is there to read their mind, you can be sure that there are a myriad of thoughts of self aggrandizement. 

R: Or as I like to say in the privacy of my own studio "Delusions of grandeur."


I: My thoughts jump all over the place…(ad lib). 


I: The vanity of art, it was, it is, and it always will be... A mission is to motivate; and judging from all of the great art, and the great artists that created those works, we must give a pronounced amount of vanity to the collectors, that have the wherewithal to collect it and the palaces to showcase, the vanity of art seems to be doing a pretty good job of it.


R: We all have the capacity to be vain about something in our lives, you may be accused of having an overinflated ego, but psychologists tell us this may be healthy, and it builds self-esteem. 

R: The vanity of art builds self-esteem for the creators, and that is unquestionably worth the price of admission to the museum's of vanity. 


R: What do you think Inci? 

I: Ad lib about thoughts...

I:  What do you think Rod 

R: (ad lib) & finish up...


I: Let us know your thoughts about the vanity of art. Do you think you're vain? Do you think it’s necessary to be vain as an artist? Is being vain negative? 


R: It's going to be interesting to read the feedback on this one. Cause for all practical purposes, the word vanity has a bad connotation. 

R: What are for next week’s podcast Inci? 

I: Next week our topic will be: Art community and what are the pros & cons of hanging around fellow artists. 

R: I believe we are also going to have a special guest, her name is? 

I: We’re going to be interviewing an England based artist Sonia Bubilitis. Who is not only talented, but she is active in her community of fellow artists. 

R: I’m looking forward to this...I am familiar with Sonia’s art and I know she’s an exceptionally kind person. 

I: If you’re into creativity and you’d like to know more about how to thrive in a community environment you’ll find this podcast insightful and interesting. 

Thank you for tuning into our podcast. Remember to subscribe to the Thought Row Podcast where ever you listen to podcast.

So it's bye for now from Rod and me...have a great day..


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