Aphorisms for Artists by Walter Darby Bannard

Aphorism #31

An explicit measure of worth in art will result in inferior art tailored to it.

When characteristics of superior new art are pointed out and described, those characteristics will be appropriated by artists who can’t come up with something good on their own.

When this happens these features are no longer fresh, and they tend to be uncomfortable in their new home—an intruder that debases one’s work even as it is pursued with all the zeal of a fresh idea.

Examples of this can be seen in the virulent spread of Cubism in the years before World War I, as artists carved facets out of figures instead of using the method structurally, and in what was called the “Tenth Street Touch”, as hundreds of abstract painters in the 1950s painted like Willem de Kooning.

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