Mark Staff Brandl
I would like to introduce an exciting artist to all my readers who have an interest in the world of arts and humanities. His name is Mark Staff Brandl, and he has a Ph.D. in Art History. He is also known as Dr. Great Art and an essential voice in the world of arts.
Mark Staff Brandl is most well known for his self-labeled “Mongrel Art“: hybrids of installation and sequential paintings and drawings, which occasionally incorporate lectures as performances.
Dr. Great Art background
His newest project with performance lectures and podcasts he calls “Dr. Great Art.” He was born in 1955 near Chicago, where he lived for many years. He has lived primarily in Switzerland since 1988. He studied art, art history, literature and literary theory at the University of Illinois, Illinois State University, Columbia Pac University, and received his Ph.D. in Art History magna cum laude from the University of Zurich in 2011. He is an associate professor of art history and painting at the Kunstschule Liechtenstein. Brandl is active internationally as an artist since 1980, has won various awards, had many publications and had numerous exhibitions. His shows include galleries and museums in the US, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Egypt, the Caribbean; specific cities include Paris, Moscow, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. As a critic, he has been a contributor to London’s The Art Book, Sharkforum on-line, a podcaster for Bad at Sports, Theory Editor for Chicago’s Proximity magazine and a Contributing Editor for New York’s Art in America. He is also the curator of The Collapsible Kunsthalle and the Kunstgrill in Zurich. Works of his have been acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Victoria and Albert Museum in London, The Whitney Museum in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the St. Gallen Art Museum, The Thurgau Museum of Fine Art, The E.T.H. Graphic Collection in Zurich, The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the International Museum of Cartoon Art, the Art Museum Olten and others.
Dr. Mark Staff Brandl is active internationally as an artist since 1980, has won various awards, had many publications and had numerous exhibitions. He was born in 1955 near Chicago, living there for many years. He has lived primarily in Switzerland since 1988. He studied art, art history, and metaphor theory at the University of Illinois (BFA), Illinois State University, Columbia Pac. University (MA), and received his PhD. in Art History magna cum laude from the University of Zurich in 2011 in Art History.)
I had the opportunity to sit down with Mark for an interview. Here are my five questions.
Who is Dr. Great art for?
“It is for everyone who is interested in visual art, form the complete beginner to those well-educated in art history. The only requirement is that people truly desire to learn more about art and art prepared to do so in a rather fun way.”
What is your mission with Dr. Great Art?
“In my these performance-lectures and related installations and podcasts, my desire is to take viewers and listeners on fascinating journeys through art and its history. Entertainingly, yet educationally and aesthetically I analyze, underline, and discuss the reasons why a work of art is remarkable, or through entire eras, or indeed through the entirety of art history. The “Dr Great Art” project is about devoted seeing, which is more than merely glancing at art.
“I stand for an understanding of art in which art historical knowledge and aesthetic pleasure merge into a new artistic experience. My Performance-Lectures are art themselves, as well as informative and fun, especially as they occur on and within paintings and painting-installations custom made for the pieces.”
What is the audience taking away from your events and podcasts?
“I hope that they become excited about learning more about art and art history, and realize that this need not be boring. Indeed the opposite, that it can be passionately electrifying.”
Why is art so relevant in contemporary times?
“Art is always important, as it vitally mirrors important human concerns while questioning as well as celebrating our beliefs about life. Art history is, or can be, exciting, fun, and even a relevant source of analogies to contemporary life and art. It is crucial to know history as personal empowerment for artists, other artworld denizens, and interested viewers: to test the present with the often surprising facts of the past, to note how and why “official” history has often changed, in order to put temporary claims of omniscience into perspective; and to discover one’s own personal, vital artistic ancestry and realms of interest; and finally, in order to value it, but also criticize and change it. It is friendship and conversation with the dead and the living, to paraphrase philosopher José Ortega y Gasset. Art History encourages humanity and sympathy by teaching about our own and other individuals’, cultures and times through their highest visual artefacts. Historia est vitae magistra, (History is the tutor of life), wrote Cicero.”
What is your advice to young students wanting to pursue a career as an artist?
“That is a difficult question, and one I must answer regularly. There is no “golden key” to solve everything. Now is even a rather bad time to become an artist. The vast majority of those going into art quit within ten years of beginning. After that, the vast majority of the remaining never make enough income from art to even have a meager existence. And it is getting worse. But then, our economies are collapsing in general anyway.
The main thing is that becoming an artist is a bad idea; that is the hard truth. Only become an artist if that is your greatest desire and addiction. If not, become a very interested art aficionado, have fun interacting with it, learning about it, while having another profession that enables you to live well and still has “head and heart space” for art. We need many more such people than we need artists, curators or the like. You can be very artistically creative in other related fields, and even in ones not seen as related to art, — you can bring your artistic flair and creativity to bear on these as well.
Follow your heart, be passionate. Do NOT go into art because you think it will be an easy road to success. It will be a very difficult one. The art world, among other things, is sexist, racist, classist, cliquish and dominated by a small group of rather small minds. However, the “real” world is bigger than that small art-village. Get involved with art, no matter what you do, support your local creators, and help expand the wannabe-elitist artworld. Come to Dr. Great Art, learn, get excited, create mental and real space to use creative thinking to improve the world.!”
Thank you for the interview, Stephen!
Thank you very much for taking the time to participate in this interview and looking forward to your next exhibition and podcasts.