Dr. Sarah Thornton, a writer and sociologist of art, talks about what makes an artist an artist, their role in society, and their need to be active agents of their own career.
I’m very pleased to be interviewing Dr. Sarah Thornton on the show today. Sarah has written extensively about the art world and art market for many publications, including The Economist. She has also written three critically acclaimed books, each of which dives deeply into issues of authenticity, believability and cultural value.
In her book 33 Artists in 3 Acts, one of the research questions was: what is an artist? “The great thing about being an artist is that it is self-defined,” she explained to me, “but it’s self-defined within reason. So, not anybody can just say ‘I’m an artist’ and have credibility and the social role and status of an artist.”
The issue of artistic credibility, she says, hinges on the fact that being an artist is not just a job, but an identity. So artists have to prove their worth in the eyes of the public, collectors, and museum curators.
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