It seems that my “blogs” are always based on a question looking for answers. So, here comes another one. What happens to an artist’s work once he or she is unable to continue to paint and/or show the paintings? I am not necessarily thinking of the very successful, well-known painter but, rather, the local artist whose work finds its way into working-class homes.
Painters are usually painting on a steady basis – some to the point of obsessiveness. They generally have a cache of work ready to go into galleries or art shows. Their studio walls are stocked with works completed or in progress. Some paintings take years to sell and others may never sell. What happens when the artist is unable to paint or promote?
Van Gogh was a prolific painter yet never sold a painting during his lifetime – despite the fact that his brother was director of an art gallery in Paris. Van Gogh’s work certainly wasn’t valued while he was alive. There is a story that his landlady used a few of his paintings to plug holes in her chicken coop. The artist’s body of work was, fortunately, collected and documented by his sister-in -law after his death. Van Gogh was fortunate. His work could have been destroyed through years of obscurity.
Paintings often take days, weeks, or months to complete. They involve skill, passion and a trained eye. To successfully distribute them, i.e. sell, involves a whole different set of skills. Those painters who feel that they have someone who will act as Van Gogh’s sister-in-law did, are the fortunate ones. Other artists sit and worry about their paintings that have involved so much time, energy, and inspiration. They wonder who will take care of their work. The artist can only hope that someone will care enough to want to preserve it.