David Byrne is best known for being the lead singer of the Talking Heads, but he does interesting things in lots of formats. He’s made movies, painted, done stage shows. The money from his music has allowed him to live a fantastic life where he can create what he wants.
He has kept a regularly updated blog for years where he comments on current events, talks about what he’s working on and just observing life around him. I like his writing and perspective.
My favorite entry of his was from last year. He was writing about outsider art. I enjoy outsider art, but I often have had to defend my enjoyment of it. Some people think that you can only enjoy outsider art in an ironic way, not for what it is. Someone once told me that my buying a Daniel Johnston album was just me making fun of him.
His entry help me clarify how I felt on the issue. Here’s a bit of it:
…what is sanity and does being functional make you a better artist? Full disclosure: I don’t think so — but then, I think a stain on the sidewalk or a blob of construction insulation has the equal value of some Picassos.
Functional to me is the key word. Not sanity. Many “sophisticated” and successful gallery artists are quite mad, lost in their own worlds and emotional wrecks — but they do know how to navigate the shoals and reefs of the art world. Well, a bit. They can compose and posture themselves sufficiently to get by, to talk the talk and walk the walk… though they also might be drooling drug addicts and conversational incompetents. Some of these observations come from personal experience — art dinners and openings.
I’m not sure I know anyone, anyone at all, who is completely sane. Sure, I know plenty of people who play the sanity game with skill and daring. Their masks of having it together are well secured and they don’t spit out profanities or stare goggle-eyed into space. But they are mad, too, though maybe, I’ll admit, to a lesser degree than the poor souls who can’t help but constantly express themselves visually.