The New York TimesThe New York Times

Why is a day job seen as the mark of an artist's failure?

By Travis Diehl

08 Mar 2023 · 6 min read

Editor's Note

With the myth of artistic meritocracy, we are led to believe that true talent will be rewarded—everyone else just can’t be that good. Travis Diehl, writing for the NYT, rejects that conclusion.

(Critic’s Notebook)

There’s a scene in the 1996 movie “Basquiat” where the incandescent young painter (played by Jeffrey Wright) has a handyman gig at a gallery. Willem Dafoe, making a cameo as an electrician, climbs down a ladder and delivers the immortal line: “You know, I’m an artist too.”

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