Exhibition Genius without Talent

16 Jul — 2 Oct 2011

de Appel Boys’ School


Eerste Jacob van Campenstraat 59
New Entrance at the Ferdinand Bolstraat! (around the corner)

(tram 16 or 24, stop Stadhouderskade)

We live in a world in which the boundaries between expertise and amateurism become increasingly vague and transparent. On the one hand it is as though user-generated content has a central place and anyone can make a contribution to the production of art and knowledge using channels such as Youtube and Wikipedia. On the other hand, according to the journalist Koen Haegens, we paradoxically live in a “casting society” in which it is important to demonstrate that you can achieve a particular level of excellence – just think of the popularity of programmes such as “So you think you can dance”, “America’s Next Top Model”, but also “The Apprentice”.

Generally speaking, citizens have become more articulate and worldly wise than forty years ago. They want to participate and make their own choices, rather than having a blind trust in the opinions and ideas of authoritative people or institutions. The expert and the specialist, like the (public) intellectual, have become minority positions. This has implications for various areas of expertise, and certainly also for the way in which West European society and the media view art and artists today.

Artists such as Joseph Beuys and Robert Filliou caused a stir in the 1970s with their “erweiterde Kunstbegriff”. Beuys maintained that “everyone was an artist”, and in the context of his project “La Republique Geniale” (Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 1971) Filliou made a number of conflicting statements about the genius that everyone has. In 2011 we see the relationship between concepts such as genius and talent, art and creativity, knowledge and expertise in a different way. On the basis of a broad range of contemporary and historical art practices, this exhibition explores in an associative way what the concepts of the “hobbyist” and “amateurism”, “layman and specialist”, “genius and talent” mean today from the perspective of contemporary art. One of the guiding principles is that anyone can look, but not everyone can create works of art.


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