How do artists become famous?

On Yahoo, they had a boy who is being compared by some to Picasso ( I’ve always wondered how artists such as Picasso, Dali, Warhol, Da Vinci, became famous? I only know their basic histories, but how did they become well-known? Their art are considered masterpieces, but how do we know that some obscure artist name Rudy, with art hidden in the attic, didn’t surpass them? Better marketing?

Sometimes it’s because they are discovered by someone who owns a well known art gallery or someone who works at a famous art museum.

Here’s an example from music - the brother of a college roommate of mine had a hit song . He played a song he recorded at a disco where he worked and a producer for Madonna heard it and liked it and got him a record deal. I think similar things happen in the art world.

Patrons mostly

If you can’t BE a great artist, or opera singer, or ballet dancer or whatever the next best thing is to DISCOVER an artist who IS a great artist or singer or whatever.

If you were Picasso or Dali, it helped to be in Paris, the art center of the world at the time, (in Warhol’s case, New York City in the 1950’s and 60’s was close enough) and draw attention to yourself by being eccentric. It also helps to have studied under an already famous artist, to get yourself a famous patron (like DaVinci and the Medici AND the Borgia families), for your work to be the foundation of an entirely new school of art (Picasso’s cubism) or at least controversial or outrageous (Dali and Warhol) so that opinion is polarized on whether you’re a genius or a fraud.

A little self-promotion helps, too. Some guy named Rudy might have been better than DaVinci, but his work is still in his attic, rather than adorning the altar of the Chapel of St. Bernard in Florence.

Well if you were Picasso it helped that people already thought you were a genius when you were 14 or so.

Dali was a very enthusiastic self-promoter and would do anything to get and keep his name in the public eye. He did deliberately scandalous things (e.g., Un Chien Andalou) to get newspaper space.

But, OTOH, Van Gogh was completely unknown when he died. But as tastes evolved, people discovered his art. Cutting off his ear was also a good career move – it made him a memorable name, even if Van Gogh didn’t intend it in that way.

In general, though artists become well known because the public sees their art and is impressed by it. In some cases, this happens while the artist is alive; in others, it’s after their death. Some massively popular artists lose their reputation over time, while others are rediscovered and slowly become known as among the best (and may lose their reputation, too).