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SpellbinderEntertainment
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Magic is an Art!

Magic is an Art-Form.
Therefore, Magicians are...Artists.
Period.

This is not considered, nor made reference to, very often.
Few magicians feel very comfortable confronting this.
The very concept may very well overwhelm us.

But among the Fine-Arts, Magic is (or should be, or can be) one of them.

Yup, I’m saying right up there with paintings of Monet and Renoir and operas of Verdi and Puccini, even the Plays of Shakespeare.

Of course, OK, let’s get real here...

A one brief tour of YouTube Video offerings found under a “magic” search, or perhaps a visit to a magician’s convention or local club, will convince you that it’s in NO way-shape-or-form an ART...nor, with all the garbage and ego-driven acts out there, could it ever be.

But that is just not true...
Look at this list of ten examples of living magicians who know they are Artists producing Art:

-Jerome Murat
-Andrew Goldenhersh
-Kostya Kimlat
-Robert Neale
-Tina Lenert
-Christian Chelman
-David Parr
-Jay Scott Berry
-Dirk Losander
-David London

...and perhaps, you could add another ten purely magical artists to this...

But not a lot more--
We’re not talking commercially successful, or coolly-hip, or majorly famous,
we’re talking consummate, consistent, charismatically magical artists of today.

I believe there are a number of qualities which bring Magic to the state of Art:

Number One for me is succeeding in making magic...MAGICAL in nature.
Much magic seen today is anything but wondrous, enchanting, or miraculous.

The Number Two - quality; is that of polished, professional-quality theatrics.
As a performance-art, magic shares the same theatrical qualities and needs in common with plays, operas, musicals, ballets, and other performance-based artforms.

This means they need motivation, scripting, staging, flow, emotionality, acting, and direction, as well as production values and artistic design.

And Number Three in my list of qualities is having purpose, meaning, or significance, as the performance relates to human life.

When a well-prepared and rehearsed piece of magic is performed with a specific idea or intent behind it, by an imaginative, disciplined, and skilled performer, the result is as entertaining and emotionally-satisfying than anything you’d ever find in a museum or concert hall.

But first, as “magicians” we must realize there can be MORE to our magic than “moves” and “patter”...we must admit we are potentially “artists” and approach our Work with that mindset.

Study of the other performance arts and the history and modes of our own is necessary, along with much more creative effort and hard work, as well as building a team of other artists skilled in writing, directing, and production to support our vision as necessary,

One of the problems with magic today is that it is seen as a solitary pursuit. We think we can, or have to, produce something wonderful all on our own.

The Performing Arts by nature cry out for collaboration!
There are just too many aspects to an entertaining performance to be mastered by one lone performer.

There is much we can learn from the worlds of theatre, fine art, music, and dance,
and all these can be seamlessly integrated into our acts to make our magic far more Magical in nature and design.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if even half the magic videos on YouTube were stunningly beautiful, amazingly skillful, and astoundingly enchanting little pieces of a theatrical nature...rather than under-rehearsed, clumsy performers, stumbling through some standard card trick or illusion, stuttering meaningless words, and unsure of his next movements?

I believe we can strive to be SO much more than we are if only we participate in supporting one another as practicing Artists...and demand and expect ONLY the best from one another!

Magically,
Walt
Andy the cardician
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Walt,

A great post... You certainly spend some time thinking about this. I do share your view.

This brings me to a simple question.
How are magicians actually classified by the tax-bureau?

Andy
Cards never lie
Bill Palmer
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I don't believe that ALL magicians are artists, any more than ALL musicians are artists, and everyone who has a set of paintbrushes and a canvas is an artist.
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magicmanci15
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FITZKEE!!!
karbonkid
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I'm going to have to echo the same sentiment as Mr. Palmer. I love your ideals of how you feel magic should be, but the nice thing about magic and, say, art, for example, is that different things are considered magic and art.

My 5 year old can scribble on a paper. If I frame it and put it up and call it art...guess what? It is. It always will be. The same way Bim-bop the clown is a magician, and Mr. Howdie-do-dat is a balloon sculpture that does "magic", too.

So, none of these people subscribe or aspire to your artistic model. Are they artists, too?
Jonathan Townsend
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Quote:
On 2006-12-15 03:13, magicmanci15 wrote:
FITZKEE!!!


At least he wrote some things that, at first read, are encouraging folks to explore art. But after you read some works by actual artists and learn some art history, the guy reads as odd. In my humble opinion. If you want to test that opinion, ask Pete Biro, who knew the guy and watched what happened when he tried to apply what he said was true. Hint...there is no excuse for NOT getting lots of real theater input when you do a theater production. Think about the Henning play Merlin as a more recent example. Smile
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tommy
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Art is not a 5-year-old scribbling on paper, if you ask me. There is a technical side to any art, and magic is no exception.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
bishthemagish
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Magic as art - where does the science of magic end and the art of magic begin? A good question. In the book "Illusion Show" by David Bamberg (Okito's son), he writes about how his dad put together his floating ball and then worked out the routine.

With this adventure, David Bamberg writes how Okito got all sorts of things together, then came up with the construction of the ball, and then the technique of how to make it float.

Then, after all that, he rigged it up in his living room and started to work out a routine. When he did this, David Bamberg writes Okito turned to him and said, "Now the art begins."

I always find the story of the Bamberg family very interesting because of the years and generations that they spent in the golden days of show business. David Bamberg had two plays that were stage plays that featured magic illusion in the plot. One was called "The Devil's Daughter" and one "Death Seat". Plus, he wrote and starred in several movies that had a plot and magic as his stage persona "Fu Manchu".

It is my opinion that the art may begin at the point the magician is working out the routine - but it ends, in my opinion, only after the routine is performed in front of an audience, completing the circle.

If some magicians are artists? Can or must an artist paint 1000s of paintings before painting one that can be called art? To me, art being subjective - art should somehow connect with an audience and be appreciated by an audience, but not necessarily understood by the audience. Perhaps to be displayed before an audience in order to complete the circle.

If I were asked where magicians fail as artists most often today is that few display their work in front of an audience as art in the way of a "performance" and only show off the tools and techniques that they claim to own or perhaps use.

To me, magic is an art and a craft and a science, but it reaches it's highest artistic level only when performed before an audience. After the routines are honed over a long period of time over many performances. After the homework of writing, rehearsing, and so on!

Just a few thoughts.
Glenn Bishop Cardician

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Jonathan Townsend
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Quote:
On 2006-12-15 10:43, tommy wrote:
Art is not a 5 year old scribbling on paper, if you ask me. There is a technical side to any art, and magic is no exception.




Don't tell that to W. A. Mozart.

But at least in art, the exceptions to rules can be happy.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
karbonkid
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But what if you didn't know a 5 year old scribbled on it? Would you be able to tell my daughters drawings or any child's drawings from that of the Russian artist Paul Klee? Are a cave person's drawings considered art? Yep. Can my 5 year old do better drawings than that? Yep. So yes, Tommy, it is art. It doesn't meet your definition, but, that does not mean it is not art. Countless artists over time have tried to defy this definition over time, Marcel Duchamp, Rene Magritte, etc.

I find magic in the same light. No one, and I mean no one, can down play the power of magic performed by clowns, jugglers, hack magicians, manipulators, escape artists, etc. because magic has a definition so broad, like 'art' does, that it cannot be encapsulated. Everything becomes art. Everything becomes magic. Everything becomes a performance.

How someone sets that up for themselves as one thing. Telling people that they need to aspire to what works for you and your definition (as Mr. Spellbinder has)is completely different.
Suppo
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Still think it was a good essay. To satisfy everyone who posts here, it would have to be a thesis.
SpellbinderEntertainment
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Bill,
Re-read my post.

I never said, or came close to saying,
all magicians are artists,
nor will they ever be.
Most are not artful, or even mindful of art.

I did say it is what Magic (big M) should strive to be... Art,
and if magicians support one another in this goal,
we can move forward towards art in some form,
and away from the prevalent YouTube garbage.

True buying a penny –flute does not make you a musician,
nor doing paint-by-number make you a painter,
yet many magicians seem to practice that way.

Now, maybe this thread can get back on track?
Thanks,
Walt


Posted: Dec 15, 2006 12:56pm
---------------------------------------------
Thank you Bish!

Okito is one of my heroes.
His work on the ball is a perfect example.

Art is NOT exclusive from sweat and tears,
that is part of the process.

Okito developed the TECHNICAL expertise.
He brainstormed creatively to full a vision
He used trial and error to build on his ideas.
He EXPERIMENTED, failed and tried again.
He MASTERED his working for the ball.

Then (as he saw it) the Art developed,
at least the art the audience saw.
the movement and chorography,
the music, costume, and lighting,

Everything together,
from eh first glimmer of creation,
to the trial and tears,
to his magical expertise,
to the beauty on stage,
conspired to create true ART for this.

And Okito’s ball is talked about to this day!

He would practice in a new theatre,
dressed head to toe in white,
in full bright white light,
and only when the method could not be detected,
under those circumstances,
would he begin a dress rehearsal of the routine.

No matter where we fall in the range of art,
we can try to move slowly up the scale,
or just buy tricks and do them the next weekend.

Thanks again!
Walt
karbonkid
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Walt,

While I don't think the topic, at all, strayed at all with the last few posts from Bill's onward, as when you stated:

"I never said, or came close to saying,
all magicians are artists,
nor will they ever be.
Most are not artful, or even mindful of art."

I want to quote you here when you said:

"Magic is an Art!

Magic is an Art-Form.
Therefore, Magicians are… Artists.
Period."


Am I misreading something? If so, please clarify.

I'm not saying, as SUPPO would have you feel, that you need a thesis to satisfy every one cause you don't. But when you make declarations, you need to consider things bigger than yourself...and if your 'view' of magic is scouring youtube for videos that have 'magic' in the description and that somehow equals the status of magic, I think you are on the wrong track...or at least using the wrong example to prove your point. Had you used performers you had the pleasure of viewing in the last few months, and then making these statements, I might tend to agree...maybe. As then again, that could be relegated to your area.

I actually beleive a lot of what you are saying, and for me, that is exactly how I treat my magic. I have done so ever since I read John Carney's forward in Carneycopia about magic being 'High Art'. It's nothing short of inspirational and, if you haven't already, go find it and read it. As much as I love the theory of magic as high art, and as much as I strive for that model, I don't expect 'everyone' to do so as well. Actually, I'm kinda glad that they don't. I like going into situations where people have seen bad magic, or hacks, or what-have-you...because I know that I'm going to change that viewpoint. Henceforth, I don't feel that everyone should subscribe to it. It takes a LONG time and A LOT of study to get to the point where you can see magic as 'High Art'. Are all the youtube magicians and club members are on their way to that model? Maybe. Maybe not. I just know that I do my part when I can. Live by example and hopefully others will follow.
SpellbinderEntertainment
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Hi Karbonkid,

If
Magic is an Art,
Then
Magicians are Artists.
That's the If/Then model I began with.

This is however the "ideal"
And most magicians were never told that magic is or can be art.

Then I took off from that point (I know it was a long read).

So we have untold bad examples of magic on YouTube and everywhere.
I listed ten contemporary magicians who I believe DO make Art.

These ten, and any others you may add,
set an ideal, the example if you will.

In the whole context of my post I was saying that Magic is an Art.
The unfortunate reality is that so many of us magicians are not artful.

"High Art" well that's even one step above what I could wish for.
I think my list of ten reach that level in most of their work though.

If a fish says said to you
"I can't breathe, something must be wrong here".
You might say
"Hey, you're a fish, you need water, you can breathe there".
The fish could reply
"gee thanks, so that's it, I'm gonna look for a pond".

Well, it's a start for the fish to live a new life, a stronger life,
same thing... I'm trying to say:
“Mr. Magician, you are part of an Art-form.”
Maybe some few will answer:
“Wow, never looked at it like that,
think I’ll take a class, read a book, find a director.”

I mentioned in another thread, it does not have to be classical art,
Hip-hop can be art,
modern art can be art,
just honor the effort and work that art requires,
and then make the art your own.

The old magic catalogues lie…
art is not fast nor easy,
just read Michelangelo’s bio for starts.

Thanks, Walt
bishthemagish
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Quote:
On 2006-12-15 12:56, SpellbinderEntertainment wrote:
Thank you Bish!

Okito is one of my heroes.
His work on the ball is a perfect example.

Thank you spellbinder - Walt for the kind words. I am a fan of Okito and the whole Bamberg family of 5 generations of magicians. It is interesting that Tarbell 5 has a lot of great information on the Bamberg clan.

I am also a fan of the book Okito on magic and consider it one of the great reads of magic theory and some of his best effects are in that book. Plus there is great information about Malini - L'Homme Masque and others.

One of the interesting things in the book was on attitude page 16, There was a difference in attitude. One way of putting it that the old masters created magical illusion, while the magician today seeks only to create the illusion of magic.

Very interesting thoughts on the attitude toward the art and theater of magic.
Glenn Bishop Cardician

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tommy
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Bish

I don’t think science stops somewhere, then art begins but believe, and I am pretty sure, they go hand in hand. That is you can’t produce art without science. The technical side of magic is a vital element to the performance of art in magic. I am not sure I can explain clearly how I see it, but lets say that, the art is the imagination and ideas on one side and the technical side is the ability and skill to display them. Art is not one or the other but both together. Separated , one would just be an idea and one just juggling. Vernon for example, not just came up with great ideas and used his imagination but also had the technical ability to perform them and that together made him an artist. There is more to it than that but roughly speaking that is. Art should be systematically constructed and all worked out and thought through. It’s not mindless scribble.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
Suppo
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Sorry, degrees are all in business, no art background, but isn't art partly about transferring or stimulating emotions?

Maybe art is the use of science to bring out the emotions in your audience? An artist then would use a medium, in this case the science of magic, to transfer or stimulate emotions in his audience? I was reconciling this to the musician or the painter as well.

By the way, be gentle when you rip this thought apart. It has been a rough week at work...
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Quote:
On 2006-12-15 11:04, karbonkid wrote:
But what if you didn't know a 5 year old scribbled on it? Would you be able to tell my daughters drawings or any child's drawings from that of the Russian artist Paul Klee? Are a cave person's drawings considered art? Yep. Can my 5 year old do better drawings than that? Yep. So yes, Tommy, it is art. It doesn't meet your definition, but, that does not mean it is not art. Countless artists over time have tried to defy this definition over time, Marcel Duchamp, Rene Magritte, etc.

I find magic in the same light. No one, and I mean no one, can down play the power of magic performed by clowns, jugglers, hack magicians, manipulators, escape artists, etc. because magic has a definition so broad, like 'art' does, that it cannot be encapsulated. Everything becomes art. Everything becomes magic. Everything becomes a performance.

How someone sets that up for themselves as one thing. Telling people that they need to aspire to what works for you and your definition (as Mr. Spellbinder has)is completely different.


Paul Klee was Swiss.

When you define and categorize you need to look at the implications of your definitions and your categorizations. If you say
"Magic is an Art; therefore, Magicians are Artists," you are, IMHO, being too broad.

If you say "Magic is an Art; therefore, magicians can strive to be artists," I think you have come much closer to the mark.
"The Swatter"

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SpellbinderEntertainment
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Suppo!

How very cool...
Great thinking even if you had a hard week <grin>.
Thanks!
Walt

Suppo said in part:
>Maybe art is the use of science to bring out the emotions in your audience?
>An artist then would use a medium, in this case the science of magic, to >transfer or stimulate emotions in his audience?
>I was reconciling this to the musician or the painter as well
bishthemagish
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Quote:
On 2006-12-15 15:57, tommy wrote:
Bish

I don’t think science stops somewhere, then art begins but believe, and I am pretty sure, they go hand in hand. That is you can’t produce art without science. The technical side of magic is a vital element to the performance of art in magic. I am not sure I can explain clearly how I see it, but lets say that, the art is the imagination and ideas on one side and the technical side is the ability and skill to display them. Art is not one or the other but both together.

Right on Tommy. When I posted where does the science stop and the art begin I was drawing a line between the science and technical side of magic and what in my opinion takes magic from just being a demonstration in science to being a performance art.

Some could argue that science is an art form all by it's self and also could be a theater art when science becomes a demonstration. To me a magician may use science but the overall goal is to make the magic illusion look like it was done by magic.

A few days ago I watched the “Mad Magician” with Vincent Price. This is a movie about a magician and he invents illusions and works for a magic manufacturer. He wants to get out there on the stage and when he gets his big break with a sawing illusion his boss at the magic company shuts the show down. Besides lots of neat magic used in the background of the film. The Vincent Price or in the story Gallico the great is rehearsing the music with the band in the opening part of the film.

He say’s something like “Magic is the science” of the art of illusion.

Others have said magic is nice indoor work if you can get it.
Glenn Bishop Cardician

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