Must I Pretend to Like My Artist Friend’s Work?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 18, 2016 12:45 AM GMT
    20mag-20ethicist-t_CA0-master180.jpg

    NYT: By Name Withheld, A good friend of ours is an aspiring painter. Recently she held an exhibition at her studio of her latest efforts. We love her, but we’re not fans of her art, which is definitely a work in progress. She invited us to her ‘‘party,’’ but we knew that if we attended, we’d be expected to buy one of her paintings, which cost a few hundred dollars each. She’s struggling and could use the money, but here’s our question: Are we obliged, out of friendship or sympathy, to buy art from her even if we have no interest in it?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/20/magazine/must-i-pretend-to-like-my-artist-friends-work.html?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 18, 2016 1:56 AM GMT
    This is a tough one. But first of all I wouldn't lie about cancer or anything else. I hope that was an attempt at humor. Some of us (me & my husband) have actually had cancer, and lost family & friends to it, not a funny or light topic in this context.

    But whadda yah do in this awkward situation? I suppose not attending the party/showing is an option, that might send the message nonverbally. In my case I have no credentials as an art critic, I hate to offer an opinion in these cases.

    A lot of people thought Picasso was worthless when he began, and Van Gogh, and countless other artists whose work today is valued in the tens of millions of dollars. I try to stay away from giving my opinion about art created by friends.

    Unless I immediately do like it. Then I express my admiration freely. Which also means that when I'm noncommittal, merely polite, I think the message is given.

    Just today my husband & I had lunch with gay friends, one of whom is a guy I contend is the best Art Deco and Retro 1950s furniture & interior designer (he's also an architect & painter) in the US today, maybe even the world. Whose work in fact is indeed seen all over the world.

    And he knows I worship his furniture, and all things art deco. It's one of our bonds. But I can't afford his work. One of his chairs would cost me almost as much as a new car. I can't justify such an extravagance. He also knows that. I wouldn't dream of asking him to give me a private "deal", nor would he insult me with one. Yet he created a chair named after my husband, that we can't afford, either.

    Perhaps a proverbial "starving artist" just starting out needs the help, at more modest amounts. And that's what makes this situation so difficult to answer, when they are a friend. icon_sad.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 18, 2016 2:19 AM GMT
    Encourage your friends to explore their creative passions even if they aren't an expert it's a healthy outlet for them and by telling them you don't like their artwork you could potentially hurt a facet of their character. So your friend is a bad artist yet she is still an artist and she is tryin to express a part of herself to you.

    It would be like if someone was ugly and she asked "do I look good in this dress"

    She may not look good in anything at all, but her effort and will should be commended.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 18, 2016 3:00 AM GMT
    Coming from another artist, the answer is NO. I would never ever expect my friends to buy my art simply because they're my friends. That's ludicrous. In fact, whenever a friend wants to buy my art it always makes me uncomfortable because I hate taking a friend's money. Art should be purchased because it speaks to you on a personal level, and if your friend is any kind of artist at all she will know this. I think she just wants you there for support and nothing more.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 18, 2016 4:52 AM GMT
    UMayNeverKnow saidUgh! I'm now the proud owner of a huge ugly ass painting.

    Lmao xD
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 18, 2016 5:53 AM GMT
    UMayNeverKnow said
    Another funny cancer story.

    Yes, let's have more of those funny cancer stories from you, about all the people we know who died from it. Ahahaha. Wonderfully funny, isn't it?

    And then you advise us to lie to our friends and fake having cancer ourselves, to avoid some awkward social situation. Ahahahaha. Yes, that's just too hilarious, also.

    You should publish a book filled with your dying of cancer humor. It would be a best seller. icon_rolleyes.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 18, 2016 9:02 AM GMT
    woodsmen said20mag-20ethicist-t_CA0-master180.jpg

    so your the one
  • nice_chap

    Posts: 280

    Aug 18, 2016 9:31 AM GMT
    Radd saidComing from another artist, the answer is NO. I would never ever expect my friends to buy my art simply because they're my friends. That's ludicrous. In fact, whenever a friend wants to buy my art it always makes me uncomfortable because I hate taking a friend's money. Art should be purchased because it speaks to you on a personal level, and if your friend is any kind of artist at all she will know this. I think she just wants you there for support and nothing more.


    I agree. You can be honest and tell your friend her art is not your sort of thing, but you are happy to support her artistic endeavors by coming to her displays. If she does hold an exhibition of her work and nobody else shows up or it turns out to be a failure, she will still have you for comfort. Also, does she actually explain her paintings to you? do you ask her where she gets her ideas and inspiration from? Even though the art might look bad to you, try getting some depth on the subject rather than (quietly) dismissing it as bad. Maybe you'll even come to appreciate the work in a new light if she reveals something you didn't notice before, and try pointing out some strong points in her work to give her an idea on how she might improve and take her future projects.

    But yeah, be supportive without fobbing her off with lies. icon_smile.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 18, 2016 2:01 PM GMT
    blank-canvas.png
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 18, 2016 2:01 PM GMT
    blank-canvas.png
  • 24hourguy

    Posts: 364

    Aug 18, 2016 2:49 PM GMT
    Go to the party to be supportive but don't buy anything if you don't want to. A big part of showing support -especially for an artist, is just having people show up. The gesture of your presence (maybe bringing some other folks with you to introduce them to your friend's art) will be appreciated.
  • Destinharbor

    Posts: 4435

    Aug 18, 2016 3:09 PM GMT
    Just show up and be genial. Everyone's biggest fear is to throw a party and nobody comes. You don't even have to comment on the art but if put in a awkward situation, just say something general about continuity of theme or divergence from or appreciate your use of color or something that means nothing, But do drink the wine. Be positive in a general sense so someone who likes the art will break out their wallet.

    And the burgeoning Picasso comment^^ may be extreme but it is true. I bought a large abstract oil off the wall of a restaurant near a college with a minor art program. Paid peanuts for it, like $600. Student work. But I liked it a lot. The artist graduated and was given fellowship to the Art Institute in Chicago and has since gone on to great success. Her work sells for tens of thousands and yet when I see it, I still think mine is the best she's ever done. I'm not selling!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 18, 2016 4:03 PM GMT
    Ekho said
    Encourage your friends to explore their creative passions even if they aren't an expert it's a healthy outlet for them and by telling them you don't like their artwork you could potentially hurt a facet of their character. So your friend is a bad artist yet she is still an artist and she is tryin to express a part of herself to you.

    It would be like if someone was ugly and she asked "do I look good in this dress"

    She may not look good in anything at all, but her effort and will should be commended.

    You make some very good points. I like the compassion and understanding you express.

    But another issue is what do the friends do who attend her party, and may feel pressure to buy artwork they don't like, don't want, and think may be overpriced? Still awkward for them, how do they avoid it?

    Just yesterday, at a place we went, there was a new showing of art work, all photographs by someone I didn't know, who wasn't there. A gay club, the owner whom we do know likes to feature talent on a rotating basis, with the pieces priced for sale. A nice thing to do, and contributes to the appearance of his place at the same time.

    Well, I walked around and looked at them all. Some not too bad, priced about $300 to $1300 mounted & framed.

    But nothing stunning I couldn't live without. I told my husband this, and I said he may be right in encouraging me to do the same with my own photography. If this guy can sell his stuff maybe I could sell mine. I take pics to please myself, been doing it for over 50 years with professional equipment as a hobby, took college courses in it, used to develop the film myself and do my own darkroom work before digital, the whole routine.

    But I never saw it as a career, or art, at least not what I do. Everyone can take pics. But my hubby and friends do seem to be impressed, and think I'm missing an opportunity. I wonder what THEY would buy from me if I did have stuff for sale? But honestly, I wouldn't want to put our friends in that awkward position.

    To set a price and sell to them, like a merchant. To friends I'd frankly just want to give them away as gifts, those pics that they like.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 18, 2016 9:23 PM GMT


    Orange, Red, Yellow is a 1961 Color Field painting by Mark Rothko. It sold at Christie's for $86,882,500 on May 8, 2012. The seller was the estate of David Pincus and the sale price represents a record nominal price for Post-War / contemporary art at public auction and for Rothko works in general.

    You could buy yerself a pretty nice boat for 86M Even with auction house -10-15% and taxes....what, 40-45M?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 18, 2016 9:57 PM GMT
    I think it is far cheekier for a friend to expect you to buy their art than it is for you to refuse to buy it.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 19, 2016 6:01 AM GMT
    No, and a real friend would tell them the truth. I'd say, you have a ways to go before I'd buy something off of you, but maybe one day! :-)
  • AMoonHawk

    Posts: 11406

    Aug 19, 2016 6:47 AM GMT
    No ... If she's really a friend she should gift you one of her works of"art"... Starving artist or not. Otherwise she's just using your "friendship" to get money from you. Real friends are hard to find.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 20, 2016 12:36 AM GMT
    AMoonHawk saidNo ... If she's really a friend she should gift you one of her works of"art"... Starving artist or not. Otherwise she's just using your "friendship" to get money from you. Real friends are hard to find.



    You're not serious are you? Why would you expect someone to give you something they're trying desperately to make a living from? That's a really crazy expectation to have.
  • AMoonHawk

    Posts: 11406

    Aug 20, 2016 8:13 AM GMT
    Radd said
    AMoonHawk saidNo ... If she's really a friend she should gift you one of her works of"art"... Starving artist or not. Otherwise she's just using your "friendship" to get money from you. Real friends are hard to find.



    You're not serious are you? Why would you expect someone to give you something they're trying desperately to make a living from? That's a really crazy expectation to have.


    You just struck upon the problem with today's world. It is all about selfish greed. People are all about networking. Making friends to get them ahead. Is that the kind of people you want to befriend you? Think about it for a while.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 21, 2016 6:53 AM GMT
    AMoonHawk said
    Radd said
    AMoonHawk saidNo ... If she's really a friend she should gift you one of her works of"art"... Starving artist or not. Otherwise she's just using your "friendship" to get money from you. Real friends are hard to find.



    You're not serious are you? Why would you expect someone to give you something they're trying desperately to make a living from? That's a really crazy expectation to have.


    You just struck upon the problem with today's world. It is all about selfish greed. People are all about networking. Making friends to get them ahead. Is that the kind of people you want to befriend you? Think about it for a while.



    I truly don't understand your point here. How is an artist inviting a friend to their opening "using" him? They're probably not going to buy anything, so how is that using them? Expecting your artist friend to give you free artwork is like expecting your doctor friend to give you free medical care. It's what they do for a living. You have no right to have such a ridiculous sense of entitlement to their work.
  • AMoonHawk

    Posts: 11406

    Aug 22, 2016 6:49 AM GMT
    Radd said
    AMoonHawk said
    Radd said
    AMoonHawk saidNo ... If she's really a friend she should gift you one of her works of"art"... Starving artist or not. Otherwise she's just using your "friendship" to get money from you. Real friends are hard to find.



    You're not serious are you? Why would you expect someone to give you something they're trying desperately to make a living from? That's a really crazy expectation to have.


    You just struck upon the problem with today's world. It is all about selfish greed. People are all about networking. Making friends to get them ahead. Is that the kind of people you want to befriend you? Think about it for a while.



    I truly don't understand your point here. How is an artist inviting a friend to their opening "using" him? They're probably not going to buy anything, so how is that using them? Expecting your artist friend to give you free artwork is like expecting your doctor friend to give you free medical care. It's what they do for a living. You have no right to have such a ridiculous sense of entitlement to their work.


    You're right, you're not entitled to anything of anyone else's. Nor did State he was entitled. My statement is a reflection that he doesn't like her art, so doesn't want to feel obligated to buy any, so isn't it then obvious that they are not close of friends. If they were that close of friends would this even be a question? And if they were that close of friends she would have gifted him a piece by now, because that's what close friends do for each other.... So since they are really not that close of friends, he really doesn't have to be so concerned about attending.
  • Eleven

    Posts: 159

    Aug 22, 2016 5:13 PM GMT
    I guess this will teach you not to be friends with shit artists.

    Honestly though I am only friends with people who inspire me
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 22, 2016 5:41 PM GMT
    Eleven saidI guess this will teach you not to be friends with shit artists.

    Honestly though I am only friends with people who inspire me

    That's in keeping with my late Mother telling me to try to only associate with people smarter than myself. Which I also took to mean more talented in other ways, as well.

    Which in my case isn't very difficult to do. But it's still possible to get involved with people who are less "gifted" as my Mother would put it. And in her negative view would fail to improve me beyond what I already was. Whereas the smart and talented might teach me things, and inspire & prompt me to do better.

    Although in the case of art I wouldn't improve even if I hung out with Rembrandt. That's a talent that wouldn't ever develop because I'm about as artistic as a sack of potatoes. (Now watch a sack of potatoes plopped on the floor win raves at the next MOMA exhibit in NYC)
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 22, 2016 5:56 PM GMT
    AMoonHawk said
    Radd said
    AMoonHawk said
    Radd said
    AMoonHawk saidNo ... If she's really a friend she should gift you one of her works of"art"... Starving artist or not. Otherwise she's just using your "friendship" to get money from you. Real friends are hard to find.



    You're not serious are you? Why would you expect someone to give you something they're trying desperately to make a living from? That's a really crazy expectation to have.


    You just struck upon the problem with today's world. It is all about selfish greed. People are all about networking. Making friends to get them ahead. Is that the kind of people you want to befriend you? Think about it for a while.



    I truly don't understand your point here. How is an artist inviting a friend to their opening "using" him? They're probably not going to buy anything, so how is that using them? Expecting your artist friend to give you free artwork is like expecting your doctor friend to give you free medical care. It's what they do for a living. You have no right to have such a ridiculous sense of entitlement to their work.


    You're right, you're not entitled to anything of anyone else's. Nor did State he was entitled. My statement is a reflection that he doesn't like her art, so doesn't want to feel obligated to buy any, so isn't it then obvious that they are not close of friends. If they were that close of friends would this even be a question? And if they were that close of friends she would have gifted him a piece by now, because that's what close friends do for each other.... So since they are really not that close of friends, he really doesn't have to be so concerned about attending.



    As someone who makes my living as an artist, I am absolutely appalled at your presumptuousness and since of entitlement. So in your opinion, I'm supposed to give my art to all my "close friends?" That's absurd for many different reasons:

    #1 Just because someone is a close friend of mine, why should I assume they automatically like my work? Art is the most subjective thing on Earth so why should I expect everyone to like mine?

    #2 People often compliment artist's work, even though they may not care for it. And just because a friend compliments my work, doesn't mean they actually want to see it hanging over their sofa.

    # Giving art to people creates bizarre and uncomfortable dynamics in the relationship. If you give someone a piece of art they didn't ask for, they suddenly feel awkward because now they feel they must display it in a place of honor in their home (even if they hate it), so that you won't be offended when you visit. I have a friend who has to go into her attic each time her aunt visits to temporarily hang the (horrible) portrait she did of her and her dog. The dog looks like a hyena in the painting. She will go through this tiring ritual every time her aunt visits until one of them dies.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 22, 2016 6:55 PM GMT

    lol