Saturday, October 31, 2009


In ABC of Reading, Ezra Pound established six classes of persons in literature:

1) Inventors. Men who found a new process, or whose extant work gives us the first known example of a process.

2) The Masters. Men who combined a number of such processes, and who used them as well as or better than the inventors.

3) The Diluters. Men who came after the first two kinds of writer, and couldn’t do the job quite as well.

4) Good Writers without salient qualities.

5) Writers of belles-lettres. That is, men who didn’t really invent anything , but who specialized in some part of writing, who couldn’t be considered as ‘great men’ or as authors who were trying to give a complete presentation of life, or of their epoch.

6) The starters of crazes.

These same categories can be applied to visual art, or any art form for that matter. It is also quite possible that all of them are necessary to keep art going. Art like language comes in many dialects. I am not sure that it should or even could go in one direction. It is rather a central point from which multiple forms, practices and conversations evolve.

Today’s Inventors in art may be those working with technology. Those looking to apply new developments in science and technology to art practices, industrial designers, multi-media artists. They experiment and have no boundaries to their practice.

The Masters, those who pay careful attention to craft, those who look to refine the practice of art. They maintain tradition.

Diluters surely exist, and need no explanation.

Good Artists, those who learn from both the innovators and masters and carry on their ideas and practices.

Writers of Belles-Lettres translates to our Art Critics, those who support the art world by way of observation, and creating conversation.

Craze Starters and followers are the reason why we are finding owl imagery everywhere. We may find these people to be artists working in with graphic design and advertising, figuring out how to draw in an audience and selling to it.

1 comment:

Anna Gorman said...

This is really interesting. I think the art world has an obsession with categorization.* This is an interesting system because it's not so damn black and white, there's a spectrum of equally important kinds of artists, which I appreciate.

*Those who have a problem with it end up at SAIC.