A friend of mine was in Paris last week, where she went and checked out the massive Anish Kapoor sculpture, Monumenta 2011, now on exhibit at Le Grand Palais.
This got me thinking…
I like Kapoor’s work. He makes very big art.
I, on the other hand, make very small art i.e. the “cartoons drawn on the back of business cards“. And the prints aren’t too large, either.
Though I like a lot of “Big Art”- Kapoor, Serra, Gormley, Smithson etc etc- I’m pretty happy I stuck with “Small Art”.
Small Art can impact another person on a meaningful level, just as powerfully as Big Art. Fifteen lines from Shelley’s Ozymandias had as much impact on me as fifteen hundred pages of Tolstoy’s War & Peace did, as much as I loved the latter.
And Small Art is A LOT less hassle to make.
And you can make more of it. More often. Without bankrupting yourself or putting your life on hold for months on end.
And perhaps more importantly, there’s the “Personal Sovereignty” angle. With Small Art, there’s no need to wait for someone else to deem it worthy beforehand, no need to wait nervously for the rich patron, the movie studio exec, or the illustrious museum director to give it the greenlight. There’s no need for the politics or the schmoozing or the bureaucracy.
Or the sleaze and corruption. The Big Art world is rife with that, as we all know full well.
With Small Art, you just go ahead and make it, and then it exists, and the rest is in the hands of the gods. Your work is already done, and you can get to bed at a decent hour. And not lose any sleep over it, either.
Hey, it worked for Joseph Cornell, Saul Steinberg and Edward Gorey… three artists who I rate WAY higher than Kapoor or Serra.
And what is true for Art is probably true for your thing, as well. Worry less about how BIG you want your business to be, instead think about how much LOVE you actually want to give out while your still have time left on this earth. “Meaning Scales”.
Thank you for a great message. I love epic poetry and novels but I sit up and take notice when profound notions are expressed with brevity.
Small travels faster.
“Small travels faster”. Exactly.
Thanks Hugh, that says a LOT.
I sometimes get carried away thinking a project has to do this and that, including slice perfectly sliced fries. But in addition to following the heart, maybe, MAYBE, I can take steps that give me forward shipped momentum, and ignore what might more likely get me on the cover of BIG STUFF magazine. (Which has gone downhill in recent years anyway, IMHO.)
Yeah, not to mention, big art has gotten A LOT bigger lately, thanks in part to massive public spaces like The Tate Modern or The Grand Palais.
But how much is it REALLY affecting people, at the soul level, other than impressing them with mass?
Also, one thing I didn’t mention in the post- Small Art is much easier for people to OWN. No need to build an extension to your house, just to give your original MacLeod a home.
Art is already a big enough pain in the ass to make, without worrying about all that kinda stuff. That’s always been my attitude, anyway…
I recently stayed somewhere where the owners DID have to build wings and buy lots of land to store and show their purchased art. It was very beautiful, but also seemed surreal, distant, out of my league (in more way$ than one!)…
In our living room, I have a framed painting of mine. It makes me happy.
Size doesn’t matter. Love matters.
size does not always matter 😉 I think it’s the meaning behind your art that makes the true impact.
I believe small art is less corrupted and more genuine, if done authentically. ( I know the art world from my mother – she’s an artist – and I hate that world. Too much blah blah without real substance !)
And in today’s internet village, small art can just have an impact on millions as the big one used to have before.
Just like Seth Godin says, “small is the new big” 😉
Lets give a BIG round of applause for small art!!!
Thanks for the encouragement for small. It is so easy to get caught up in wanting to be a super star and giving up when we’re not.
Yet, often it is the small that connects. It is the small that touches someone at just the right time in just the right way and helps them along this road called life in just the way they needed.
This post did that for me.
“With Small Art, there’s no need to wait for someone else to deem it worthy beforehand,”
So true for so many things. Some of the Kindle Singles coming out are from people who either never had the time to grind out a bookstore-shelf-sized book, or would not have gotten a piblisher to accept it. What a wonderful time for people to be making Small Art or even small Not Quite Art But Still Awesome.
I am so grateful for everyone who produces small art, for giving us big experiences.
“If you can be good, be big” as one of my old lecturers used to say.
Fantastic work as ever.
Failed at writing a novel. Succeeded in writing some songs.
I probably wouldn’t have gotten very far creatively if I’d tried to stick with big.
There is no small art. It’s the people who got small.
Life is short. Get on with it.
How do we measure small? If by impact of message, if by thought evoked when encountered, if by intuition initiated and insights inspired, your art is anything but small.
That Shelly compressed a huge truth of time and human existence into 15 metered lines makes the accomplishment no less large. Should we decide to measure area into a dimension of Time and Space, in contrast to Space alone, Shelly’s 15 lines cast a lengthening shadow that soon shall stretch two centuries long.
And thus, perhaps, a few of your ‘small’ works may survive and grow, wind about the trellis of time to expose our descendants to social realities that floated beneath the deceptions of our times.
There’s lots of similarity here with the beauty of running a small, independent business.
A guy wrote a book that opened my eyes to the fact that I’m a creative-type who happens to work in the business world.
Then, he coined the term Global Micro Brand.
He made a big difference in my life, and my small independent business is now in the works. Hugh, you should check him out!
I think the effort to move to be moved by big art is a worthy one. There’s a compromise of architecture in monumental pieces.
The bigness of Kapoor’s Monumenta did make me feel small, yet welcome: I can see Kappor’s Leviathan in an intimate perspective, as I can also picture your art in a monumental one.
Size matters in relation to the energy involved, and echoed.
Small is the new big. Hugh, you mentioned being sick of chasing the next gig at one point in your writings and I couldn’t agree more. I’m shifting from big paintings to small social objects. Just popped my cherry with my first blog recently. Getting warmed up.
I’ve been making “small art” for over 42 years. check out my work here.