The Death of the Artist—and the Birth of the Creative Entrepreneur

By William Deresiewicz
“Art” became a unitary concept, incorporating music, theater, and literature as well as the visual arts, but also, in a sense, distinct from each, a kind of higher essence available for philosophical speculation and cultural veneration.
Pronounce the word artist, to conjure up the image of a solitary genius. A sacred aura still attaches to the word, a sense of one in contact with the numinous. Vision, inspiration, mysterious gifts as from above: such are some of the associations that continue to adorn the word. Art rose to its zenith of spiritual prestige, and the artist rose along with it. We were the new superpower; we wanted to be a cultural superpower as well. We founded museums, opera houses, ballet companies, all in unprecedented numbers: the so-called culture boom. Arts councils, funding bodies, educational programs, residencies, magazines, awards—an entire bureaucratic apparatus. [More]