What Entrepreneurs can learn from modern Artists

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November 7th’s ArtTalk in Museum Ludwig permeant collection was another great event with lots of interaction and plenty of insights into Surrealism and the links between Creativity and Entrepreneurship. Taking the examples of three of the great and well-known Surrealists, Max Ernst, Salvador Dalí and Pablo Picasso, Karla successfully drew parallels between their long, diverse and successful careers and those of successful and well-known entrepreneurs.

Our first stop on our journey of discovery was the Max Ernst Exhibition. Ernst, from Bruehl near Cologne, was a pioneer of the Dada movement - a group that emerged from the disillusionment following the First World War who rejected conventional Art in favour of modern and surreal art, often inspired by dreams and alcohol. Ernst pioneered new methods of painting such as frottage and grattage. He was not only a painter but also a sculptor, graphic artist and poet. He constantly changed and evolved and tried new methods and mediums for his art. He is also one of the few artists that managed to be successful in both Europe and the US during his lifetime. He died a day short of his 85th birthday.


Next, we went on to explore Salvador Dalí, a Catalonian Artist, who like Ernst was a very prolific artist. He painted but also wrote, designed jewellery, clothes, furniture, sets for plays, and among many other things packaging for products. Karla produced a Chupa Chups Lolipop and we discovered that the designer of the wrapper was none other than Salvador Dalí. He was also very successful in the US and Europe in his lifetime and was very obsessed with money. Karla mentioned finding footage of a TV show in the US where Dalí was asked to produce a work of art with shaving foam which he did but to little success. He would have done anything for money even though he was highly successful and wealthy. He died four months before his 85th birthday.

Our last stop in this section of the Surrealist Exhibition was Pablo Picasso. Like Ernst and Dalí, he had a very long, successful and constantly changing career in Art. He started off very classically and developed through paintings, drawings, graphic art, ceramics, collages and sculptures. In this exhibition section, Karla asked us each to pick a piece from the Ceramic/Sculpture & Painting Annex Display, and to look at it for 3 minutes and then talk with a partner about what we felt looking at the chosen piece of art. Picasso was incredibly productive in his lifetime and worked until his death at 91. It is estimated he produced about 50,000 pieces of art in his lifetime. 


Following this we viewed abstract expressionist paintings by Bernard Schultze and Karl Otto Goetz. Both of these painters had long and successful careers in art. Schultze lived to be 90 and amazingly, Goetz, who lived to be 103, and who was blind in his final years, kept on producing art right up to the end of his life.  


Finally, we moved to a new display - the Museum Ludwig requested the Artist Nick Mauss to pick out pieces of Art from the museum’s collection and to stage a room to his choice of theme - Movement and Dance. He used diverse pieces to create visual poetry and create resonance between the various pieces of art which included paintings by Jasper Johns, Eric Heckel, Madame D’Ora, Horst P Horst, Jack Smith, Max Ernst and a slideshow by American film pioneer Carl van Vechten. Plus sculptures by George Brecht, Inge Schmidt, Lucia Fontana and works by Mauss himself on mirrored glass.

After all these wonderful displays, we gathered to reflect on what we had seen and to draw comparisons between artists like those we had seen and successful entrepreneurs like Richard Branson, Elon Musk and others. Common themes included constantly developing and discovering new techniques, trying and failing, love of learning, rule breakers, risk takers, passion, flexibility and never giving up.


Several of the famous artists above lived very long and successful lives so the question we can ask is whether being artists was so engrained in them that they just couldn’t stop or was this constant journey of discovering and change as artists the reason they lived such long and fulfilled lives….

Our challenge from Karla was to find inspiration from these great artists and to use it as inspiration for our own long and successful lives.

Thank you,
Karla, for another wonderful and inspiring ArtTalk!

Oonagh Sweeny