Artful Aging

When do people hit their stride professionally? A historical look at the arts reveals that many artists have been highly productive and turned out some of their best work late into old age, including artists Michelangelo, Titian, Monet, Matisse, Picasso, O’Keefe, and Bellini. Author Thomas Dormandy wrote in his book, Old Masters: Great Artists in Old Age, that, “all the case histories point in one direction – the extraordinary flowering of artistic genius in old age.” He explored the powerful inner shifts in old age that propelled many artists to new heights, whether it is Monet who painted his “Water Lilies” when he was almost blind after cataract surgery, or Matisse who invented his paper cutouts in his last years when he was confined to his bed and a wheelchair. Dormandy rejected the rather attractive idea of creativity as an antidote to physical or mental decline. It’s an old-age thing. You become better with age according to artist Faith Ringgold, an 80+ year-old artist. She claims it is something one has a passion for and does. She adds that many women artists don’t receive acclaim before 60, in contrast to the mistaken notion of some young people today who feel that they’re supposed to be successful right away. Artist Michelle Stuart, 80+ as well, agrees with Ringgold, that experience counts. “Experience certainly gives you insights into things that you didn’t have in your earlier years. You’ve made more things, you’ve honed your craft, you’ve experienced more books, and you have experienced more criticism or praise. You don’t need to worry about what people think. There’s that kind of freedom.” Summing up their age-old thinking: You don’t have to succeed and you don’t have to be famous. You don’t have to be obligated to anything except that development of the self, and that’s a comforting thought! From: “You Become Better with Age,” ARTNEWS,

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