BoredStiff wrote:By your rather limiting criteria, Dickens' work cannot be art. Almost everything he wrote was done so for one reason only: to make a buck. (Technically to make a buck so he could support his addictions). That beautiful prose at the start of a Tale of Two Cities? It is that way because he was paid by the word, and tried to stretch everything out.
Of course, I think Dickens is an artist. But as we all know, it isn't art unless it meets the three strict criteria of "Art" 1) there is no commercial intent; 2) it gets the Adder seal of approval; 3) From up high on mount Olympus, Adder doth spake that the doodles before us mortals is, in fact, considered "art" and we are allowed to like it.
A real artist creates art because they have no other choice. It could be argued that Dickens was such a good writer that not even greed could prevent him from making a masterpiece. Back then, let us recall, there was much more respect given to people who were intelligent and creative and artistic, so while Dickens may well have known that his work was a cash cow, he also likely knew that the better his work was, and the more quality it had, the more copy he would sell.
Nowadays, quality is actually a deterrent to popularity, so most of what gets the big bucks doesn't have a shred of effort put in. Unless you really want to say that someone like Ramy is a true artist because back in a fully different era, some people made lasting and vital art for pay. That is simply not the case in our time. Unless you want to argue that you can also let your kids run around unsupervised, because you did that back in the 50s. It's a different time with different rules, and the current rules state that the less quality you put in, the more profit you'll make. Look at some of the biggest works of literature now: The DaVinci Code? Harry Potter? Twilight? Not a one is really respected for being a shining beacon of phenomenal literature. But Dickens is. Because he was from a time when art had worth. I'll call it the pre-Warhol era. I think any time a person is considered an artist of high calibre for painting a campbell's soup can is a very logical place to pin the true decline of art into something for sale and not something to put anything into.
I can't believe someone like Dickens or Shakespeare, who both were indeed writers as a profession, and ergo got paid to write, didn't have that art in their blood regardless of how their income came in. And I also can't believe anyone can't see the difference between the work that came out of commissions from that age (as if the Medici family didn't commission half the Renaissance!) and what passes for art for the sake of a paycheck now. Back then, you couldn't be hired as an artist unless you WERE one. You think DaVinci would be a familiar name today if he'd used stock frescoes?