Think Big.

Some artists deliberately work small. Or not so deliberately. Alberto Giacometti, for instance, once wrote to his brother that he started out making large sculptures but by the time he was finished they ended up small—which is something that tends to happen if your sculpting medium is stone or wood or something that has to be carved down, although he tended to create works in plaster that he then recast in metal, building up. And later he complained to his brother that every time he started to make a small piece it would end up large, which is even weirder.

I see a lot of small graffiti which isn’t weird. Because it’s illegal most artists work fast and dirty, and there are a lot of small tags scribbled around. Once I saw where someone had started something then wrote “Fuck! Cops!” and I wish I’d gotten a picture of it because that’s hilarious, but that’s another story.

Anyway I notice that some artists, even when they get the chance to work big, don’t do much more than larger versions of those quick and dirty scribbles. Is it lack of skill? Are they just not interested in doing something better? I don’t know. Maybe even in places where they’re less concerned about being caught they still feel pressed for time. And then there are those who, given the chance, go big.

6 Comments

  1. mydangblog

    The Group of Seven did all of their works on very small canvases first up North, then came out of the wilderness and reproduced them into giant canvases based on the small ones. You can see them all at the Art Gallery of Ontario–it’s very cool to see all the miniatures on one wall, then their enormous counterparts.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      One of my favorite things is to learn new things, and I had never heard of The Group Of Seven before you mentioned them. Now I’m reading up on them–what a fascinating group.

      Reply
  2. Gilly Maddison

    Working big, especially on canvas, can be a scary prospect for artists who are not very confident (or talented). . It’s also a real bummer when you have daubed gallons of expensive paint all over a 5ft canvas and no one can guess what it is or even which way up it goes unless it has a signature.. To address this issue, I work on 8.5×11 canvases, scan them at high res and then have them printed very big onto canvas and mounted on frames if they turn out well. They can then be sold as art prints and no one ever knows the original was small unless they look at the small print 😂.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That’s something I’d forgotten: paint is expensive, and most artists–at least the ones not doing graffiti–need studio space and tools, something the poet Guillaume Appollinaire used to mock his friend Picasso about, but that’s another story. Taking a small work and making it big, though, is a pretty innovative idea.

      Reply
  3. Ann Koplow

    Love the way you think, big guy.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      And your comments make me feel very big indeed.

      Reply

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