We all like answers, when you find one for yourself, it’s a edifying
Looking at the paintings by Raden Salah in the national museum, I vexed why there aren’t artists like him now. Most of the artworks produced by him were fantasies of the, then kings. Attacking tiger, riding a horse, fighting a tornado etc. It is not surprising tiger attack and fight is such a common theme in his paintings, after all it’s for the kings.
Pablo Picasso, a so called legend of contemporary paintings. His paintings are worth millions now; at least 5 of the 20 most expensive paintings ever sold were made by him. It’s funny how he never enjoyed the wealth of his paintings; rather he died not having much.
The only few people who had copious amounts of wealth in 18th century and before were the kings and aristocrats, everyone else were in the same boat. Mind you, the world population was hardly 500 million back then, pardon my accuracy here, the figures are almost correct. There was little globalization, and nobody knew more than few miles more than their house.
People did what came to them, by that I mean most professions followed a lineage, from father to son or daughter. If the father was goldsmith, son would be so, if the father was a painter, son would be so. There was less competition. Goal was only to do well enough to make a living, and you had to be good enough to make a living out of doing anything. Singer, painter, carpenter, and farmer had to be pretty freaking good to make a living, especially if they were to work on king’s assignments. The kings liked to brag to others, so perfunctory was not an option. That led to ingenious skill in each field.
Of course, not everyone caught the eye, but the ones who did, continued to amaze. No interview, no biographies, no one really knows what they thought and why they did what they did. All we see is just interpretations. No one can tell, what was in the mind of Isaac Newton when he decided to try his hand in alchemy, the so called false science of turning anything into gold. Even a toddler will laugh at that idea, but one of the brightest minds in science did not think so. Nobody can tell what it felt like to be stabbed by the so called trust worthy associate in the case Julius Caesar. No one can tell why Alexander wanted to expand at the expense of his own soul.
There are only interpretations.
Fast forward, we live in a world now, where many times it is not the sincere artwork that pays the bill for its creator, but the most published one through the lop-sided media works, many of the works not even worthy of attention. The best code never makes any money; it’s the one that’s made famous through some viral or monopolistic scheme, which probably is a cheap stake. The best athlete may never compete because he/she does not fit into the class based system. When there are so many of every kind, why bother to do something different and threaten your existence.
All the accolades and the prizes were none but still the master pieces were created. Only if one can do that in a consistent basis, one may find another legend. There are many, they will continue to be. Just that the burgeoning population makes everything look small, and the fact that we have already seen so many things in such short time through the help of technology , makes everything look the same even though they are not. Extinction is one way to leave a mark or perhaps you should just be okay with the cheap stakes out there.