Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Was Leonardo a genius? Are you?

The article about David Hockney's digital art exhibition a few blogs back got me thinking about the topic of what it takes to be a great artist.  I agree that for many artists, hours of time consuming, hard work (sometimes referred to as "craft" in art circles) may be a calling card for what others consider marks of superior art.   Then, I saw a link to a Wall Street Journal article about a new book which addresses the very notion of whether geniuses even exist.  Apparently, several  researchers suggest that all major breakthroughs are the result of hours and hours (10,000 to be exact) of toil on the part of the discoverers.  The book's author suggests that while the idea of genius is not necessarily a myth, those folks whom we now know as truly exceptional have enabled their gift through their labors.  So, was Leonardo a genius?  How about van Gogh?

GC art geniuses know that only a little bit of effort is needed to submit artwork for consideration by Show It! Juror Julie Schweitzer.  In fact, your first entry is FREE, so please keep the November 23 deadline for bringing work by the Wilson Gallery in mind.

1 comment:

Earl Grey said...

The article mentioned in artgal's post re-introduces the notion of genius as a form of skill-based expertise. Is it possible for genius to be relegated to skill only? Is genius really a term destined for prodigies, those who have an ability early on? Do geniuses actually "practice"; or, is every item that flows from their ink pen truly worthy of the term "great"? Do humans have equal potential?
This post and discussion remind me of a course I taught a few years ago, as an Honors Seminar with Prof. Jen Price of the Psych department. Over the course of the semester we studied the lives of individuals and, also, considered their eminence and achievement. We looked at famous and less-famous individuals and then scrutinized their achievements through one or more of the following lenses: broken homes, birth order, death of parents, history of mental illness, precocity, nonconformity, career choice, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, and social marginality.
So, while it seems easy to say that geniuses are those who are talented (in terms of a skill that others cannot profess), how would we characterize exceptional abilities in other ways? For example, what term would we use for a clear, good thinker -- one who can grasp concepts and then ruminate and respond thoughtfully? I would call these individuals life-long learners, but that is not as praise-worthy as being called a "genius." Or, is it? How do you define genius? What do you think of when you hear the word "genius"?