The art world’s obsession with youth may be fading. With prices for even facile works by emerging talents accelerating at warp speed, collectors hunting for greater substance are turning to artists who are pushing 80, and counting. Many of these game-changers- broke out in the 1960s and ’70s and were driven by feminist, racial, and gender-identity politics to alter every existing medium and invent a few new ones. By experimenting with nascent technology and unconventional materials that included their own bodies, they opened the door for much of the video, performance, and digital art we have today.
It's not just young whippersnappers who pop out classics! Sometimes it takes a lifetime of experience to produce works of art. These famed senior citizen artists, musicians, writers and otherwise creative dynamos didn’t let a few gray hairs stop them. Indeed, for several, success didn’t arrive at all until their later years.
Seemingly immune to ageist perceptions and traditional notions of retirement are artists. A historical look reveals that a striking number have been highly productive and turned out some of their best work late into old age.
One of the most widespread and persistent myths about creativity is that it is the domain of the young. So for example in surveying popular attitudes toward aging, the psychologist Dean Simonton observed that “Most conspicuous is the notion that creativity is the prerogative of youth, that aging is synonymous with a decrement in the capacity for generating and accepting innovations.”
So-called "late work" is often the most radical and the most mysterious art of its time, quite at odds with contemporary voices, and we have come to relish it for just this intransigence and non-conformity.
Essay by Leo Segedin
Having been an 'old', professional artist for 10 years - using age 70 (the proverbial 3 score and 10) as a dividing point, and being acutely aware of the impact of age on my own work, I began to reflect on how age affected other old artists For how many was old age, as some have claimed, the fruitful culmination of years of experience?
Born in 1760, Hokusai was a precocious but also long-lived artist who died at the age of nearly 90. From the age of 60 he engaged himself with new intensity in the mediums of print design, book illustration and painting.
As a new London show opens of late works by Willem de Kooning, who suffered from dementia, we look at other artists in old age and how their physical disabilities and cognitive decline impacted on their work.