November 10, 2013

What does an artist do? - "They notice things."

Grayson Perry shared a funny anecdote during the fourth lecture of BBC Radio 4's Reith Lecture series. by telling a story he managed to distill what it is artists do. He said:
"Recently a friend told me that she was working on an education programme at the Whitechapel Art Gallery and at the beginning of the project she asked the children, she said, “What do you think a contemporary artist does?” And this very precocious child, probably from sort of Muswell Hill or somewhere like that, she put her hand up and she said, “They sit around in Starbucks and eat organic salad.” Now it was probably quite an accurate observation of many fashionable artists in East London, but I thought … you know anyway. So then after this, they spent some time looking at what contemporary artists did. And at the end of the project, she asked them again, “What now do you think an artist does?” And the same child, she said, “They notice things.” And I thought wow, that’s a really short, succinct definition of what an artist does. My job is to notice things that other people don’t notice."
Fourth Reith Lecture in full here.

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