From Picasso to Beeple: artists as pioneers

By Jan Dalle

To be considered a pioneer, as an artist, used to spell trouble. Turner and Monet were mocked and derided before they were first accepted, then lionised: many other groundbreaking artists spent their lives as outsiders, and did not even live to see their own success. Van Gogh is the most obvious example, but there are countless earlier cases, especially among women artists across the ages.


Each time an artist has been considered dangerously, unacceptably, even offensively original or daring, it’s always been for the same reason: they are pushing boundaries — of form, material or taste — beyond what the reigning aesthetic is ready for. Time has usually sorted it out, in the case of true and fine talents. But being a pioneer in one’s own era has never been an automatic guarantee of quality or durable interest, and time also deals firmly with the outlandish but untalented, steering them neatly towards history’s dustbin.

March 21, 2021