BOOK REVIEW: The Organization and the Artist: A Book Review Essay

by Douglas Fox



The article focuses on the book "The Awkward Embrace: The Creative Artist and the Institution in America," by Joan Simpson Burns. Stereotypes of creative artist and an organization man are so different that many would argue that there would always be colossal conflict and a communication chasm between the two. A solitary artist, who resists any kind of fetters on his imagination, is not a natural partner for the bureaucrat, who invents and implements restraining rules and regulations. Yet artists are dependent on organizations for the display and sale of their creations. The study presented in the book is not an endeavor in social science research, but rather an impressionistic foray. This fact does not mean that the book was foredoomed to failure. It could have been far more valuable than a mechanical survey replete with table after table of stupefyingly marginal data. This book fails because of the relatively arbitrary and unclear focus of the inquiry. If this reanalysis were of the same quality as the reporting in the book, it would be a landmark study, a milestone in the field.

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