The obvious is only obvious to those to whom it is obvious, if you get my drift. I always really dislike when people say, in answer to a question, "you should know that." My response is, "I wouldn't ask if I knew the answer".
Does anyone want examples, steps, specifics about how to pursue, improve an art career...besides me?
I know it is different for each artist. What are the similarities? A regular contributor has mentioned the M.F.A. requirement. There are tons of M.F.A.'s They are mostly teaching in universities.
What should an artist know and do to get that boost up the ladder, into the major galleries and museums?
It is obvious to me that practice is essential.
My mother, who sang opera, practiced just about every day; I try to work every day, too. She, by the way, was an amazing singer, but was at her peak when black opera singers were not accepted to sing with major companies as they are today. My mother did get to sing with major conductors, for a president's wife, a governor's inauguration, met Thurgood Marshall, Martin Luther King and many other dignitaries. She even sang sacred music written and conducted by Duke Ellington in the 1960's. I learned from her that you better have a job if you are an artist because you might have the feast, but famine could be close behind. And that I have to set standards for my work.
It is obvious that someone significant needs to see the work.
Submitting work to exhibitions, galleries, and museums is something most artists expect they need to do. How to go about that is tricky. I mentioned that the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago curators prefer simple. Many institutions have information for submissions on their websites. You can call and make an appointment for more information.
You have to decide if your work fits a certain institution. I said this before and repeat it for insurance.
It seems obvious that there's more to it than the obvious.
Jeff Koons hung out with Ed Pashke. Cool. Does becoming a studio assistant to an established artist help you get seen? (that's rhetorical; the answer is obviously yes!)
How's that young artist who showed with Kerry James Marshall doing after having a part of the exhibition space at the MCA?
It's obvious that getting a boost from an established artist will lead to other opportunities. One museum show should lead to another.
At the 2005 Art Basel Miami Conversation, Hans Ulrich Obrist asked Robert Rauschenberg what advice he had for young artists and he replied, "Just nurture your curiosity and have respect for change. And I think the curiosity part will make life very exciting. It will also fight back habits like repeating oneself."
Everyone repeats themselves, but to be conscious of it is good...
Obviously a family member with clout can help you!
Have a relative who was in the business: Ed Paschke (I saw an exhibition at Wood Street Gallery in Chicago profiling two other generations of artists in his family), Pablo Picasso's dad, we all know was a painter. Van Gogh, despite his failure to sell, was exposed to art through his family, his brother and the gallery where Vincent and Theo worked. And his family persisted in promoting his work after death, thus Van Gogh is very well-known. The Peale family made a family business of art that included these Peales: Charles Willson, Raphaelle, Rembrandt, Rubens, Titian, James Peale, Anna Claypoole, Margaretta, Sarah Miriam, and Charles Peale Polk, a nephew.
The Franklin MacMahon family of artists is thriving: Mark, Frank, Huey, Michael and Carolyn.
Kara Walker said:
Georgia O'Keeffe's friend sent her work to Alfred Steiglitz. The rest of that story is history.
"Kiki Smith was born in 1954 in Nuremberg, Germany. The daughter of American sculptor Tony Smith, Kiki Smith grew up in New Jersey. As a young girl, one of Smith’s first experiences with art was helping her father make cardboard models for his geometric sculptures".
Some final advice from About.com to consider when choosing a fine art career:
So you might think the answer is how "good' you are, who you know, where you were trained...
Maybe the answer is your belief in yourself and your work. What do you think?
(top of page) Acrylic painting on wood box.
"Out of the Box series: Woman in Striped Blouse"
by Joyce Owens
"Out of the Box series: Woman in Hoop Earring"
by Joyce Owens