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An artist's brain , etching by Daniel Chodowiecki

In the visual arts , applied arts , performing arts as well as literature (authors) and music, creatively active people (composers and performers ) are now referred to as artists who produce products of artistic creation called works or works of art . The sum of all works by an artist is called his work .

In the context of German intellectual history , on the other hand, being an artist is not just a profession , but a human form of existence. For Goethe and Schiller , the artist was the epitome of an educated person. This philosophical view runs like a red thread from the classical period to Wilhelm von Humboldt , to Thomas Mann and many others. The general social reduction of the comprehensive concept of the artist as a creative, educated individual of the art of living to the sole professional title only took place in the last century.

Today's job description

The distinction between artistic activity and handicrafts and handicrafts is fluid. The degree of originality of an artistic idea, a draft, an execution or a representation can be decisive. Likewise, the limit to "useful" technology is not always clearly identifiable.

Apart from purely freelance artists, clients for artistic work are, besides private individuals, often government agencies, churches, companies or patrons, in some cases through sponsorship awards and grants . In addition, the artist can also be permanently employed (directors of the theater, professional musicians, historically also the court painter ).

Clients who do not respect artistic freedom often demand that artists meet religious or political requirements and accept iconological and fashionable interventions.

Legal definition in Germany

The artists' social insurance law in Germany stipulates:

“Artists within the meaning of this law are anyone who creates, practices or teaches music , performing or visual arts . A publicist within the meaning of this law is anyone who works as a writer , journalist or other journalist or teaches journalism . "

- § 2 Law on Social Insurance for Self-Employed Artists and Publicists

The law is based on typical job descriptions: a graphic designer or musician is an artist, a cabinet maker is a craftsman. The German social welfare fund for artists names four professions that receive their services: visual arts, performing arts, music and words . Visual communication and design are counted among the fine arts. Writers with or without an artistic claim are journalists in the field of spoken word. The sales tax rate for artists and freelancers in Germany is 7%.

Legal definition in Austria

The term is defined by the Artists Social Insurance Fund Act :

“Artist within the meaning of this federal law is anyone who works in the fields of visual arts , performing arts , music , literature , film art or in one of the contemporary forms of art due to their artistic ability within the framework of a artistic activity creates works of art . "

- § 2 (1) Artist Social Insurance Fund Act

Legislation understands the term openly through the formulation "contemporary forms" and is generally very work-oriented:

An artist is someone who creates art .

According to tax law , artistic activity is "always given when a personal, self-creative activity is developed in a comprehensive art subject based on artistic talent ." The term self-creative applies to musicians , conductors , actors and directors and visual artists also to reproductive activities as artistically extended. Furthermore, paragraph 2 of the Artists Social Insurance Fund Act adds:

"Anyone who has successfully completed an artistic university education has in any case the artistic ability to carry out the artistic activities covered by the university education."

This means that those who are professionally trained as artists also fall under the term artistic activity , which in particular includes teaching .

Income tax law an artist both in the context of an employment relationship (can workers ) be active and independent , and then expects generally works contract basis from. In terms of sales tax law , the term is relevant in that freelance artists in Austria only charge 10% sales tax.

The painters Molly and Helene Cramer in their painting school 1900


Often the degree of aptitude to be an artist is stereotypically measured on the basis of an education; Art in the classical sense is more likely to be taught in a course of study at universities or art colleges, while commercial, pragmatic aspects of art are more likely to be taught at technical colleges . More broadly, however, training as an artist does not play a role; There are numerous autodidacts in the art scene who value not having any training. Who is seen as an artist depends crucially on the prevailing or individual concept of art .

Psychological properties

Through psychological creativity research, artists are in terms of numerous characteristics such as z. B. cognitive characteristics and personality have been investigated.

See creativity # The creative person

Artistic professions

Typical art professions by art subject are:

Self-image of visual artists in historical change

Using self-portraits since the Renaissance, it is possible to trace how the status of painting artists, their attitudes towards society and towards themselves have changed over the centuries. While until the end of the Middle Ages the visual artist was by name unknown artisan, he then initially showed himself reluctantly in assistenza , like Botticelli or Dürer , one can demonstrate the changing self-image up to the present day, that after the introduction of the concept of genius and the Divino artista in the course of the Renaissance, the following baroque self-confidence up to Vincent van Gogh, giving way to critical self-examination full of doubt.

Contemporary artist

In contemporary art , artists who are recognized in the international art scene cannot be reduced to traditional art fields. Their role changes through interdisciplinary approaches, through references to humanities or scientific knowledge, through new art forms in new media, see digital art , and through constant changes on the art market and in the art business . Literature, film, music, theater and visual arts merge into one another in new media and the boundaries between “pure art”, L'art pour l'art , committed art and art commerce are permeable.

Which works and artists are coveted on the art market depends on many factors. It is not always artistic and art-historical qualities alone that are decisive. The media representation of the artist and his art can have a strong influence on the appreciation. That is why artists often work in conjunction with professional intermediaries such as art dealers, gallery owners and cultural managers. The name of an artist can become a trademark in such marketing contexts and his media presence can become capital. The orientation towards well-known artist names and their constant mentioning (English: namedropping) is therefore one of the peculiarities of the art business, similar to the star cult in music. On the other hand, there is the ideal of viewing works of art with an open mind and discovering an artist based on their quality.


The artist's critic is the art critic . The most fundamental critic of the artist is the artist colleague because of the expertise, but also as an expression of competition.

See also


  • Kürschner's Handbook of Fine Artists Germany, Austria, Switzerland , 2 volumes (editor Andreas Klimt), 2nd volume, de Gruyter Saur, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-598-24737-8 (with biographical data, address, teaching activity, exhibiting Galleries from 6,700 living visual artists, among others: painting, graphics, sculpture, book art, action and media arts and (a selection) architecture, photography and handicrafts).
  • Oskar Bätschmann : exhibition artist . Cult and career in the modern art system . DuMont, Cologne 1997.
  • Stefan Borchard: heroic actor. Gustave Courbet, Edouard Manet and the legend of the modern artist . Berlin 2007.
  • Alessandro Conti: The Artist's Way. From craftsman to virtuoso . Wagenbach, Berlin 1998.
  • Anne Marie Freybourg (ed.): The artist's staging, JOVIS Verlag, Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-86859-031-9 .
  • Ernst Kris , Otto Kurz: The legend of the artist . Frankfurt am Main 1995 (latest edition).
  • Wolfgang Ruppert: The modern artist. On the social and cultural history of creative individuality in cultural modernity in the 19th and early 20th centuries . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1998.
  • Martin Warnke : The court artist. On the prehistory of the modern artist . 2nd edition Cologne 1996.
  • Olaf Zimmermann, Gabriele Schulz: dream job artist . Education and Knowledge Verlag, Nuremberg 2002, ISBN 978-3-8214-7618-6 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Artists  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Interview with Schiller. ( Memento from June 11, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) In: . Retrieved June 4, 2013.
  2. Schiller: "The Artists" poem, 1789 . Retrieved June 4, 2013.
  3. The most important information about artists' social insurance in brief. (PDF; 225 kB) Information sheet from the Artists' Social Fund. Archived from the original on February 28, 2013 ; accessed on March 6, 2019 .
  4. ^ Artists, media professionals and their taxes. In: Kü Archived from the original on May 15, 2014 ; Retrieved June 4, 2013 .
  5. Tax and social security law for artists. FAQ's - right now! Basics for artists / tips for artists. (No longer available online.) In: kultur steiermark. Kultur Service Gesellschaft Steiermark, State of Styria - Office of the Styrian Provincial Government, archived from the original on January 2, 2015 ; accessed on January 2, 2015 .
  6. Quantschnigg / Schuch: Income Tax Handbook . Vienna 1993, p. 829 ff . Quote: Artistic activity - commercial activity. (No longer available online.) In: FAQ's. Kultur Service, Land Steiermark, archived from the original on January 2, 2015 ; accessed on January 2, 2015 .
  7. VwGH November 14, 1990. 90/13/0106, cit. ibid.
  8. Not self-employed - self-employed. (No longer available online.) In: Kultur Service, Land Steiermark, archived from the original on January 2, 2015 ; accessed on January 2, 2015 .
  9. VAT rate. (No longer available online.) In: Kultur Service, Land Steiermark, archived from the original on January 2, 2015 ; accessed on January 2, 2015 .
  10. ^ Gregory J. Feist: A Meta-Analysis of Personality in Scientific and Artistic Creativity . In: Personality and Social Psychology Review . tape 2 , no. 4 , p. 290-309 ( ).
  11. cf. Klant, Schulze-Weslarn, Walch (ed.): Basic Art Course 1. Schroedel 1988. pp. 8–9