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Albrecht Durer, Melancholia, 1514. Eugene Delacroix, The Lion Hunt, 1854. Genius is the talent (natural endowment) that gives the rule to art. Since talent is an innate productive ability of the artist and as such belongs itself to nature , we could put it this way:

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Genius is the talent (natural endowment) that gives

the rule to art. Since talent is an innate productive

ability of the artist and as such belongs itself to

nature, we could put it this way:

Genius is the innate mental predisposition through

which nature gives the rule to art


Kant’s genius is defined by four criteria

1-“a talent for producing that for which no determinate rule can be given,” so “consequentially originality must be its primary property”;

2-“since there may also be original nonsense, its products must also be models, that is., exemplary,” and “must be fit to serve as a rule for the judgment of others” even though they themselves cannot be derived from any such rule.

In other words, the work is recognizable s a work of genius because it is perceived to be so.

3- “genius itself cannot describe or indicate scientifically how it brings about its products, and it is rather as nature that it gives the rule. That is why, if an author owes product to his genius, he himself does not know how he came by the ideas for it…”

4- “Nature, through genius, prescribes the rule not to science but to art, and this is only insofar as the art is to be fine art.”

you can’t deduce how to make a work of genius, it has to come through the making


The autonomy of a genius spurs the autonomy and inclination of another’s genius…..

In collaboration this process is consolidated into one work!


When we look at a work of art, or design, or writing, which has been made through genius we feel it, intuitively to be good, because it gives us a sense of freedom, either in a feeling of it, or in that it instigates thought and free thinking (and our imaginations). And this intuitive feeling, of being in the presence of a work of genius, is said by Kant to help shape our judgments of taste.


Rob: It’s hard to pinpoint what it is that we’re experiencing as painters, versus a singular painter. As a singular painter you might work from reference points, you might work from a grand idea. In our situation, that grand idea may be just a word, or a phrase, or a conversation that we’ve had with one another. We can’t walk in here and go, “This work’s about this today.” It organically changes.

It’s not an “I.” It’s a “we.” It’s almost like its own third person in a way. And when the paintings leave here they become little statements on their own.


Matthew Collins and Emma Biggs, Primitive Methodist, 2008

“The work is not a picture of modernism, or a pastiche of it, it is an exploration of local relationships with the aim of creating a synthesis of differences. “



Genius beyond identity

Inclusive systems of collaboration


New New Babylon, MckenzieWark and Ali Dur


One of the reasons we stopped painting is because of the

question of authorship. The paintings documented how we

made our art. There were always two of us in the piece and

the third was the viewer who painted. Working as a

collective of three was a conceptual declaration. By

eliminating painting we stopped being three and became

one author