Let’s Break Up!

Let's Break Up! 2008 oil on canvas 68"x52"

I sold this painting a couple weeks ago, and it was a real conflict for me.  I’ve always kind of liked the idea of  letting my paintings have lives of their own after I’ve painted them, but when I sold this one I was upset about it.  A big part of that was feeling like I hadn’t sold the piece for enough, which was really my own fault.  After I brought the painting to the UPS store to be shipped I started thinking a lot about the value of my work.  How does a painting, I’ve given value, through meaning, translate into monetary value?  I think I’ve concluded that it doesn’t, but I still have to deal with the structure of our society which judges the value of most things with money.  I know I need it to survive, but it doesn’t feel like money will ever be equivalent to the amount of energy, time and care I can end up putting into a piece.

Perhaps there is also a sense of loss when I don’t know where or to whom the piece is going.  I think I like to know a little about its life after my time with it, I like to know that it’s doing something.   Once they’re not mine anymore, the past works become memories, that eventually, I might forget.  Today I googled my name, and amongst other strange things, I stumbled upon an old website that I had built a few years back.  It had some images of old paintings I had done, all of which I’ve gotten rid of.  They’re just digital images now.

Untitled 2008 oil on canvas 16'x8' A large painting I worked on for six months and then disposed of after showing in 2008.

I have gone through phases where I destroyed giant pieces that I had worked on for months.  At the time it was liberating and necessary to let the pieces go.  It allowed me to be free and not tied down by the medium.  It also reopened the studio so new work could be started.  The burden of old wok in the studio can be immense, which maybe just means I need a bigger storage space… which probably means I need more money… which means I should be attempting to sell more paintings?

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3 Responses to Let’s Break Up!

  1. heather says:

    hmm, super interesting. and well-timed: i’m currently writing a paper on artists’ destruction of their own work. say more!
    in related news, i feel in mourning for that second piece – i think it’s one of the reasons we’re friends…

    • Austin says:

      Cool! After your comment I decided to add a little more to the Bobber post. Yes, that piece, or the pieces in that show kind of did bring us together some. I only have one of those paintings left, but I’ve decided to keep it, and actually, it’s hanging in my bedroom right now.

  2. Pingback: Art and Money « Aesthetic Musings

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