Q: How do you deal with rejection?

Letter from MoMA to Andy Warhol

Letter from MoMA to Andy Warhol

A: I take the long view and try to remember that rejection is an occupational hazard that has plagued every artist throughout history. Even one of the most famous – Andy Warhol – had to endure innumerable rejections before his work was finally appreciated. So why should it be any different for my peers and me? Tacked to my refrigerator is a copy of a now classic letter, dated October 18, 1956. It reads:

Dear Mr. Warhol,
Last week our Committee on the Museum Collections held its first meeting of the fall session and had a chance to study your drawing entitled “Shoe,” which you so generously offered as a gift to the Museum.
I regret that I must report to you that the Committee decided, after careful consideration, that they ought not to accept it for our Collections.
Let me explain that because of our severely limited gallery and storage space we must turn down many gifts offered, since we feel it is not fair to accept as a gift a work which may be shown only infrequently.
Nevertheless, the Committee has asked me to pass on to you their thanks for your generous expression in our Collection.

Alfred H. Barr, Jr.
Director of the Museum Collections

P.S. The drawing may be picked up from the Museum at your convenience.

I especially chuckle at the P.S. as, surely, here we have one of the biggest blunders by a museum professional in history!

About barbararachkoscoloreddust

Barbara’s thoughts on art, the creative process, soft pastel, the inspiration she finds in travel, what it’s like to be an artist in New York, and other wisdom for artists as we travel our solitary and sometimes lonely roads.

Posted on July 27, 2012, in 2012, An Artist's Life, Inspiration and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Rose O'Donnell

    If I am convinced a piece is good, I keep trying. If it continues to be rejected I begin to look seriously at it and try to figure out if I’m missing something that others are seeing. Then I beat myself up and tell myself I’m a failed artist. Then I keep working out the same idea over and over until finally some judge, somewhere gives me a break. At which point I convince myself I am the next Rembrandt.

  2. What a great topic! It’s hard to be rejected, but I often tell myself that we wouldn’t have mountains without the valleys. I believe it was also Warhol who said, “Don’t pay any attention to what they write about you. Just measure it in inches.” This keeps me pushing myself further in my creativity, and unafraid of judgment.

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