Archive for the ‘Artist’ Category

Service of Lag Time for Recognition: Are Geniuses Discovered More Quickly Today?

Monday, September 16th, 2019

Photo: goodreads.com

Fortunate is the artist, writer, scientist, poet or inventor who is recognized and reaps the benefits in his/her lifetime. There are so many who died on the equivalent of Skid Row only to be discovered once they were long gone. Just these few names that fit this tragic situation–Oscar Wilde, Johann Sebastian Bach, John Keats, Johannes Vermeer, Gregor Johann Mendel, Edgar Allan Poe and Vincent Van Gogh–make the point.

Swiss-born photographer died recently at 94 and enjoyed a different experience. While his early and some say best work was widely criticized when first seen, it garnered the praise it deserved long before his demise.

J S Bach Photo: classicfm.com

In her Wall Street Journal article “Robert Frank, 1924-2019: He Saw America Without Illusions,” Mary Panzer wrote: “Published first in France in 1958 and the following year in New York, ‘The Americans’ was deemed mean and depressing by critics in the U.S. Popular Photography’s editors called it ‘a wart-covered picture of America by a joyless man.’ Reigning photography critic Minor White found it ‘Utterly misleading! A degradation of a nation!’ The book sold less than half the print run of 2,500 copies; the rest were remaindered. Within 10 years, the critical tide had turned, and today the book is considered one of the most influential art publications of the 20th century.”

Panzer reviewed highlights of Frank’s life in her article and concluded: “’The Americans’ remains Robert Frank’s most important legacy, a modest book with 83 photographs that changed the way we see and photograph the world around us.”

Gregor Johann Mendel Photo: biography.com

It only took a decade for “The Americans” to be reevaluated and admired. So it’s hard to argue that a short life is the reason for a lag in appreciation of seminal work.

Might it be that since the middle of last century tastes and mores changed more quickly than before allowing visionaries to see their work accepted? Do drastically improved communications tools help geniuses in arts and science spread the word to a wide spectrum of people allowing more to “get” what they do? Is there an historic or contemporary person you admire who wasn’t discovered during her/his lifetime or someone who isn’t yet and should be?

Edgar Allan Poe Photo: poemuseum.org

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