Only when an artist
dies can we truly comprehend the full extent of what they have achieved. We are forced to view them in the context of their entire life’s practice, not simply what they are producing at a specific moment. Through this we discover the truth of their work in the context of their entire oeuvre. The greatest artists or movements were often dramatically unsuccessful in their lifetime; the impressionists were seen as blasphemous in the 19th and 20th centuries, yet now their movement is one of the most coveted and recognised. The rebels of their time, who no one understood, are now considered to be the greats. After the death of a great artist, the art world goes wild. Museums and galleries hold retrospectives that are compelling and exciting. In the art market, demand increases and prices soar. The 10 most expensive works of art ever sold have all been by deceased artists. That is not to say contemporary artists are not interesting, simply that they become increasingly so after they die. Only time and retrospection can tell us where an artist will stand in the canon of art history.
Greg is the founder of Mcnamara Art Projects