Monday, January 3, 2011

Hope for the Cézannes of the World

Rush hour on the Interstate, South Street Philadelphia
There are two types of geniuses - conceptual and experimental - according to David Gelnson, an economist at the University of Chicago. Conceptual geniuses start with a clear idea of where they want to go and then they execute. Simple enough. Experimental geniuses, on the other hand, have imprecise goals and their procedure is tentative and incremental. They typically believe that learning is a more important goal than making a finished product. The French Post-Impressionist painter, Paul Cézanne, paved the way between 19th century Impressionism and radical 20th century Cubism, becoming a father to great artists such as Picasso. And Cézanne was an experimental genius - an artist whose paintings created in his mid sixties were valued fifteen times as highly as paintings he created in his youth. A bit of a late bloomer perhaps. And had some major perfectionist tendencies. But the point of the matter is that late bloomers build their skills through trial and error instead of judging their talents prematurely. Yes it takes years and years of dusting yourself off and getting back up and it also requires the right mix of supportive people, resources and incredible perseverance. Yet the end result is that much more beautiful because of the story behind the finished product. This is a good reminder for me right now because sometimes the process seems so long!
"Real focused work as mundane as it sounds is often what separates the contenders from the victors."
To know more, read one of my favorite authors, Malcolm Gladwell, and his book What the Dog Saw.

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