Ask twenty people who the greatest artist that ever lived was, and you’re likely to get at least twelve different answers. Everyone has different tastes in art, just like they do in everything else. More likely than not, you’ll hear names like www.lifeofanartist.nl Michelangelo, da Vinci, and van Gogh dropped, because these are the artists that they know of. The real question here though, is what makes them a great artist? Ask them this, and you may never get a real answer.
The title ‘great artist’ can be given to anyone in the world who has ever created anything, even yourself, but there are certain things that the great masters have come to be known for, creating a legend for themselves. Most times, these people earned their reputation by evolving art somehow. Whether it was the use of light and dark, perspective, portraiture, or a multitude of other things, these people have mastered it, created it, or became known for it.
None of this was ever really acknowledged while they were actually alive. Few artists became famous, or even remotely well-known until after their deaths. People were generally too preoccupied with other things to have the time to appreciate a good work of art. The ones that were able to take the time were usually the extremely wealthy ones that commissioned the pieces, or sponsored the artist.
The term ‘starving artist’ originated centuries ago, when artists could rarely support themselves, let alone their craft. Those just starting out in the business would often apprentice to a more experienced artist, who would show them how to create what people wanted, as well as introducing them to prospective clients. These masters were generally sponsored by wealthy patrons who would pay to feed and clothe them, as well as providing them a place to live. In return, they would often be at their disposal to create portraits and paintings of whatever their hearts desired.
This was usually a pretty decent life for an artist. As long as they had a sponsor, they would be a contributing member of society. Without one, it could be nearly impossible to gain a name for themselves, while still managing to eat occasionally and find supplies. Sometimes they would luck out, and get noticed by someone. Others got hired to be additional workers on large projects; they wouldn’t be trusted to do detail work, but would be necessary to stay on schedule. More often than not, they would never get discovered until much time had passed after their death, when their paintings would be discovered.
Even now, there are many extraordinary pieces that have been created that we cannot link to anyone in particular. That is because their piece are completely anonymous, and their style so unique that we cannot even say it was inspired by any particular artist. Others can be linked to apprentices of the great masters, whose names may not be known, but their style is recognized.
Nowadays, everything is signed in some way, even if it is with a pseudonym. People are much less concerned with being discovered so that they may survive, but are still doing no less to ensure that if given the chance, they can put a name to a piece of their artwork. Only time will tell where their name will end up.
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