In Harold Bloom’s The Anxiety of Influence (1973), the writer discusses the historical pull of precedents for poets and other artists. It is often by looking at what came before us that we learn to create, but it also creates an anxiety about being derivative. That tension is at the core of the creative process.

A clip from a 14-minute video by Brooklyn-based artist Lars Kremer, “Anatomy Lessons” (1994) hits on that topic with a poignant simplicity. The artist tries to fit his body into the outlines of 16 Old Master drawings with a jittery energy that points to the absurdity of the task while demonstrating that the visual “truth” of the anatomical sketch is often elusive.

Kremer’s video also brings a very contemporary anxiety of performing as an artist and subject simultaneously in a culture that expects the artist to be an outsider genius who speaks with a universal language that transcends culture and place.

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Hrag Vartanian

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic. You can follow him at @hragv.

One reply on “The Anxiety of Fitting In as an Artist”

  1. Just saw the video in a show in Bushwick. It’s great. I was mesmerized. And it’s ridiculous and hilarious too. The show’s cool too, well-curated. Called “A Variant Form of Lust” at Fine and Raw, right off the Morgan stop. I think it’s up for another week or so. Taj Bourgeois has an enormous installation there, with hundreds of super wacky photo concepts. You should see what he does with his body.

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