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Art vs reality episode 5: what is creative genius?

What is ‘Genius’? If an obsolete concept can still make us feel good without doing us any noticeable harm we tend to keep it, long after it stops to make any sense. Even under the laziest of examinations, the concept of a ‘creative genius’ seems like a bit of a joke.

Just try to describe it:

A dead, white male who wasn’t appreciated by his peers but whom we now feel qualified to recognise as supernaturally gifted… Must also be a little crazy.

‘Genius’ once meant a connection to the gods but since the enlightenment it’s been a weird backdoor to egalitarianism, elevating a chosen few to heights where their failures become invisible. Mere mortals need not bother aspiring to the pinnacle of genius, that’s not the point. Just like the concept of celebrity, genius is there to be admired from below. Its absolute remoteness grants us permission to surrender our own potential. That’s what makes us feel good. How much harm it does, we’ll never know.

Watch more Art vs Reality

Episode 4: Art School: dream or nightmare?

Episode 3: Street art versus the art market

Episode 2: Conceptualism.

Episode 1: Why do we need art galleries? 



One response to “Art vs reality episode 5: what is creative genius?

  1. This is excellent as per usual. I’m afraid our Pete will need to move OS to reach a bigger audience as his talent deserves it. Australia will mean succumbing to the ABC or SBS I’m afraid although it would be great if a commercial station gave you a spot on the News or something. I have a theory that if Australia really genuinely embraced populism in the arts we could become a wonderful cultural experiment. Instead we allow an art world which is no different from the ancien regimes of before. Our art gatekeepers lord it over us as they have for centuries. Genius goes with masterpiece and are populist ‘tools’ or signposts. Useful in one way but useless really. Masterpieces exist but their function has been perfected by the powerful. Great works are meant to used by the population in the way that religious icons in Russian house are used: as daily guides to strive for more. Like a catchy pop song they are me at to make everyone feel better about themselves. As Jeff Koons says “Art doesn’t exist in the object, it exists within us”. We give the object it’s status and power. The art objects are only props in a theatre of Life.


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