The Arts Society The Arts Society

A Member Society of THE ARTS SOCIETY


I Am a Genius: Artistic Identity and the Changing Status
of Artists

Lecturer: Linda Smith

This lecture looks at the idea of artistic genius.  It traces the development of the familiar stereotype of a tortured and misunderstood melancholic from its early appearance during the Renaissance, down through the carefully-managed Bohemianism of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, to the international celebrity status achieved by a few artists today.  The evolution of this type of persona is discussed in the context of various factors, including the usual suspects of class and gender, but the key issue is how art and artists have been regarded and valued in society.  How and when did artists stop being craftsmen paid by the yard and become superstars, and why did we let them get away with it?