In 1988 Morris Katz obtained the World Record for being the fastest and most prolific painter in the world. Katz popularized his instant art, creating paintings in mere seconds applying oil paint with only toilet paper and a palette knife. Recently, artists have questioned the traditional notions of who art is for and what gives it value. A new wave of celebrity artists emerged in the second half of the 20th century, gaining an audience by making art more accessible to the general public. For centuries art had been presented more or less exclusively to insiders, and its merit was, as a result, judged only by those prestigious enough to view it. However, public media has made it possible for unconventional artists to make an instant connection with their audience. Through Katz, I examine how a celebrity artist can give value to their work by establishing a connection with the public. This is evident through Katz’s many television appearances, live studio performances, and direct communication with his audience. The complete transparency of process for Katz, and artists like him, created a new means by which artists and their art could gain value. I show how Katz achieved status by using media and performance to gain public appeal, as well as developing a distinct gimmick to differentiate himself from the conventional artworld, and from other speed artists too, thereby transforming how the commercialized artist can popularize themselves to gain worth.
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Wahba, Gabriella, "Speed Artists and Value Production" (2022). Research Days Posters 2022. 47.