Stuart Horodner’s new book, The Art Life, is not exactly an art book, not exactly career advice, not exactly a guide to creativity, and not exactly a dictionary of quotations: but it’s a combination of all those things. In 12 chapters and an introduction, Horodner’s preface lays out the trajectory of his own career (he’s now the Artistic Director of the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center), and in the introduction, he says that the “various opinions revealed within these pages might serve as a compass for orienting yourself as you deal with the practical and philosophical matters that shape every art life.” That is, not just artists but everyone involved in the various branches of the art world. He also states explicitly that this is not “a guide to professional practices. It will not tell you if or how to approach galleries or where to apply for funding.”
Instead, the book is an informative and entertaining tour of various aspects of the art profession (from Motivation through Community, Audience, and Success, to mention only four of the 12 topics) through the eyes and minds of various various famous and not-so-famous participants in the field. Some comments are short, some fairly long; some are about an artist’s or professional’s own experience, some about an influence, some about the daily or exceptional processes and events that characterize contemporary (and earlier) art (across all disciplines). Some contributors are sincerely offering advice and some are offering striking or humorous insights that are more about attitude or philosophy than career.
It’s tempting to start offering quotes from the book, but opening the book at random, there are quotable comments on every page. Perhaps a quote from artist Leon Golub sums everything up: “There are three things: your work, your livelihood, and your personal life. If any two are going well at the same time consider yourself lucky.”
The Art Life: On Creativity and Career
by Stuart Horodner
Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, 2012. 183 pages, 34 color and 6 black-and-white illustrations, $25