An Extraordinary Talent – To make peace with selling

While I studied history and philosophy at university, I met many people with a great enthusiasm for their topics. Many had in common a profound contempt for anything to do with money, or the economic foundation of a possible job. This was particularly striking in art history, where the fact that famous painters such as Rembrandt or Caravaggio had a studio with assistants, and didn’t paint all their works themselves, were frowned upon by some with almost moral disdain. The same would discuss Jeff Koons or Damien Hirst with absolute no reference to the market, or to any form of attention paid by the artist to how their works sold. Artist such as Mark Rothko, who did express that same disdain, were regarded as “purer” for that very reason. I was at that time a working student, which meant I worked 30% at a human resources department of a large company. As a consequence I saw both worlds from the inside, and didn’t share this unilateral view. Sometimes I had the impression that these fellow students needed to depict the commercial world as something so despicable, in order to legitimise their choice and the economic sacrifice they were ready to undergo for it, and to refuse the possibility that the mobbing, despotism and injustice they underwent in their own system could be worse than what was going on in the corporate world.
Later, I found some of these people in that very corporate world, in some staff function far away from the customer, or the production line. And many of them concentrated on doing something “good” or “interesting”, but shied away from the question whether it actually was what other people needed or wanted. And as a result, they tended to become more and more frustrated.