The figure of the artist does not exist anymore as an individual creative worker, but as an urban entrepreneur.
The urban revolution initiated a new social and economic stage in the evolution of society that led to the growth of neoliberal cities. Neoliberalism, in fact, has defined the trajectory of urban restructuring, turning cities into economically liberal conglomerates, highly regulated and organised by buildings and infrastructures, suitable for any kind of activity. This urban structure, though, evolves over time, through population, economic and lifestyle change, but also it varies depending on political norms and mobilisation (Storper, 2015).
‘It took the earth’s population thousands of years [early 1800s] … to reach one billion people. Then astoundingly, it took only about a hundred years to double the population to two billion in the 1920s. After that, it took a mere fifty years for the population to double again to four billion in the 1970s. As you can imagine, we’re well on track to reach eight billion very soon.’ (2013)
What Dan Brown states in his novel Inferno, is something to bear in mind, since there are many questions that could simply be answered by this affirmation. There are four broad influences on the provision of public goods: distance; divisions and borders; income level; but also density (Storper, 2015). Along with the growth of the world population, the demand of more needs, both real and ideal, grows with it.
The density of population, though, is [also] determined by the food supply which in turn is limited by natural resources, the techniques for their exploitation and the means of transport and food-preservation available (Childe, 1950). This means that the social surplus is not big enough to feed idle mouths.
This climate of overcrowding and urbanisation led economies to become more and more competitive and desperate, to push their workers to create more and more things to sell.
Creativity is now a term adopted by every organisation of every field. A linking bridge between economic growth and social prosperity.
Many cities right now are embracing this new fashion of spreading creativity within every working field, in order to create more jobs and public sustenance. Not all places, though, can be “creative capitals” and not everyone can be an artist in this economy (Haiven, 2012).
The figure of the artist, in the past, was conceived as artisan, then, after a while, turned into a genius in touch with the unseen, disentangling itself from craft and becoming a unitary concept with music, theatre and literature (Deresiewicz, 2015).
After World War II, art and the artist became institutionalised, and the genius became the professional (Deresiewicz, 2015), but also, artists started to enter the market covering places within the publishing, film and record sectors.
The idea of genius was, consequently, as glorified as the growing of the creative industries, and the rise of pornography, photography, and industrial manufacturing.
This is the first time in which the artist gives way to the figure of the entrepreneur, served as a work necessity for whoever wanted to emulate big names like Picasso, Joyce, or Stravinsky.
In our overcrowded, ultra-technological, globalised world, creativity has now become one of the only mediums aimed to the restoration of the economy. The majority or almost every corporation encourages their workers to see themselves as “creative collaborators”, whose purpose is to provide customers (once conceived as the audience) with the most valuable product that has ever been put on the market: the experience.
The figure of the artist, as art itself, has been victim or subject of many variations and revolution along the course of history. In an age in which everyone is and can be specialised in more than one discipline, there is no space for the artist to be an individual creative worker, as praised as the heroes of the past times, but only for a multiplicity of artistic identity: please welcome the creative entrepreneur.
Childe, G. (1950). The Urban Revolution. Liverpool University Press, 21(1).
Deresiewicz, W. (2015). The Death of the Artist-and the Birth of the Creative Entrepreneur. 1st ed. The Atlantic.
Haiven, M. (2012). Privatizing creativity: the ruse of creative capitalism. Art Threat.
Storper, M. (2015). The Neo-liberal City as Idea and Reality. Territory, Politics, Governance, 4(2), pp.241-263.