The role of the helper


People will probably not admit them in public, but I have run into a lot of complaints about Gregory Crewdson, which has always surprised me. Whenever I press people to tell me what it is that bothers them, inevitably I am being told about how he employs so many people to do his work. There is an interesting article about this complex here. I have to admit, though, that to a large extent I do not understand what the problem is.

Leaving the treatment of the assistants aside (who clearly deserve to be treated and paid well, which sometimes might not be the case), if you look at the history of art, having assistants do at least some of the work used to be quite common. Renaissance painters would have assistants paint the less interesting parts of their paintings, say.

And there is more, because if we were to take the whole philosophy of “the artist has to do all the work” to an extreme, no photographer could have his/her film scanned and spotted by someone else (this photographer certainly is doing it himself, even though the sole reason for that is simply monetary). Photography appears to still have many perceptions about its nature built in, which are somewhat unrealistic if it wants to have a role in the world of arts (needless to say, as the article linked to above shows, the problem also occurs in sculpture etc.).

I would agree with Mrs. Deane, though, that mentioning the helpers/assistants would be nice. In the case of Gregory Crewdson that is being done, though: At the end of the book that I just looked at the other day, there is a full listing of the crew.