ART HISTORY MINOR: The 10 Commandments of Art

Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments (1956)
Let me first apologize to any readers who were not raised in Judeo-Christian religions, or no longer identify as such.   Other working titles were 'Hammurabi's Code of Ethics for Makers of Graven Images' and also the 'Magna C-art-a'.

ONE: 'Thou shalt have no other Jobs before Me.
Art is a job sometimes.  TOUGH.   Artists wait tables, raise kids, battle illness and whatever else life sets in front of them.  To put art first in your life is difficult or impossible for most.  At some point you have to continue making work in some consistent capacity to still consider yourself an artist.


Moogie the Art Dog a.k.a. Shaun Belcher
TWO: 'Thou shalt not make for yourself a piece of crap--any likeness of crap that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.'  
Just don't make crap.  No, just no.  It wastes everyone's time.

THREE: '
Thou shalt not use artspeak in vain.
Maybe the metonymy of your Gesamtkunstwerk is too esoteric, or maybe you're just too insecure to use normal people words.  If you can say it in two syllables and in your native tongue, please do so.
Post-script: esoteric is just a confusing word for confusing.  Quit it.

FOUR: 'Remember the museum free day, and keep it holy.'

Galleries and sculpture parks are almost always free, and museums usually have a free day.  Look up when they have free programs and go to them.  It's surprisingly cheaper to know the arts scene than the music scene, theater scene, opera scene, or any other scene that requires tickets.  There's no excuse.



Sucklord's spoof of Jerry Saltz, from Bravo's Work of Ar
FIVE: 'Honor your curator and your art critic.'
It's easy to get upset about the so-called "guardians" of culture and the power they wield.  Curators and critics aren't "guardians", they're investigators.  They have a job to do; and you, as an artist, aren't likely to change how they do it.  Before you even think you know what they're about, r
ead their writings and go to their shows, talks, etc.  And in the end, you don't have to agree with them; but don't overcompensate by dismissing them.

SIX: '
Thou shalt not murder.
That's an easy one.

SEVEN: '
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Should be an easy one.

EIGHT: 'Thou shalt not steal (without giving proper credit).

If you like someone's work, say so.  And if you are inspired enough to make work that even remotely resembles it, definitely credit them.  It's better to come off as the artist who knows a lot about others' art and gives them credit when due, than to seemingly pull ideas out of your ass.  Everybody has a source inspirations, acknowledge them.  It makes you look smart.

NINE: '
Thou shalt not bear false witness against your neighbor.'
I think this means don't gossip.


Jeff Koons, from Made in Heaven series, with wife Cicciolina
TEN: 'Thou shalt not covet Jeff Koon's house; you shall not covet Jeff Koon's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is Jeff Koon's.'
Haters gonna hate.  Some artists are rich, but would it make you feel better if ALL artists were poor? Face it, certain work is more profitable than others and certain artists have a better starting point than others.  So start where you're at.  Do whatever is the next step for yourself.  And don't covet or hate on others, just make your work you do because it's what you want to do.

I'd like to thank Brett Johnson (a professional comedian) who helped edit this.