Support Living Artists

By Xah Lee. Date:

Folks, there is a unnatural tendency that often a artist is appreciated posthumously. This, i surmise is significantly due to human animal's asshole nature. Basically, among males there is a strong power struggle. As a result, a man's art work is not valued by the quality of the art, but in part strongly governed by the power structure. Therefore, often, the quality of a work is appreciated only after the artist is dead — no longer a threat to his peers in power.

(women in general do not compete and in the few cases they did, the weaker sex invariably seldom had a chance to surface in the power lattice.)

If fact, we are all accustomed to it. For example, posthumous anniversaries, memorial reserves, posthumous publications, dedications, beatific eulogies. Often by the time we became aware of a work only to associate it with a dead author.

Such situation we see in all sort of fields in art history. Writing, music, painting, sculpture… In these fields it is most observable because they are fields that have existed long enough for us to see.

This situation must be stopped. Or, as a artist, we must stop it.

To stop the power struggle nature and underhand sinisterness of men is near impossible. However, the existent law and tradition that maintains the copyrightness of a work long after the death of the author, is probably harmful to artists on the whole. Such a law has the effect of delaying the appreciation of the artist. On the surface such law gives “right” to the author, but effectively preventing whatever the author might have deserved for his work while he is still alive.

one might argue that such prolonged copyright benefits the author by benefiting his immediate survived-by family or friends. This may be true for some. However, the argument is no stronger than if we can promote worthwhile artist while they are alive, as great number of them die without knowing their worth. Meanwhile, abolishing such law or shorten significantly the after-death “right” will also promote the livelihood of art communities.

i'm writing this because i want to promote the appreciation of living artists, and decrease or abolish the unbalanced reverences we have today for artists who are dead.

Please think about this. If you agree, spread the idea.


PS a artist may declare his work public domain after his death in his will. It can remain debatable about the exact effect of copyright law after a artist's death. Nevertheless, the message in this essay is effective: try to support art from living artists.

See also: Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence.