Watch responses from magicians Franz Harary, Mac King, Gay Blackstone, Lawrence Hass, David Penn & Richard Wiseman answer if magic should be considered art.
Do you think magic be considered art? Seem bizarre to me that music, ballet and photography are labeled art, but magic is not. What do you think? Recently, I asked "should magic be considered art" to 6 top professional magicians and educators in Las Vegas at Magic Live Magician Convention.
I am a magician; I'm biased. Most of my friends are full-time magicians, they are biased too.
I got a chance to chat with the one and only Richard Weisman, Psychologist, magician, author and speaker. He is the author of 59 Seconds: Change Your Life in Under a Minute, and Moonshot: What Landing a Man on the Moon Teaches Us About Collaboration, Creativity, and the Mind-set for Success.
Gay Blackstone is a cornerstone of magic's past and future. She is the Executive Producer of CW Networks hit magic show Master of Illusion and touring production with the same name. She was also wife to the late, Harry Blackstone Jr (wiki)
David Penn is a magician, illusionist and magic creator. He performs the full spectrum of magic from close-up to stage illusions. I also chatted briefly with Mac King, but Franz Harary gave the most insightful response that every magician should read.
His passionate answer can be seen below. I think some of his ideas may surprise you. I also think he's right.
I really enjoyed meeting Lawrence Hass at Magic Live! He is a renowned educator of magic and Dean of Jeff McBride's Mystery School in Las Vegas. Lawrence shares one of the most poignant ideas facing the future of magic as an art form.
(Are you attending Magic Live 2019? Want to do a little reporting? We'll include great topics or footage on an upcoming podcast. Connect with me here in the comments)
6 Magicians respond to the question:
Should magic be considered art?
1. Richard Wiseman
Richard Weisman: I'm professor Richard Weisman, Psychologist. I've a magician since I've been eight or into magic since I've been eight. And it's been, it's been that, so that's 10 years now. I'm just 18 years old, but it's been a very tough life. Um, but uh, yeah, that's what I've been doing!
Depends what you mean by art, really. I think that compared to lots of things that other people do, that's called art, then magic should be considered art.
But it does mean we've probably got to raise the bar a bit and take ourselves a bit more seriously in some ways, and actually continue to innovate not only amongst ourselves in terms of method, but in terms of effect. In terms of presentation, because that's the bit I think-- we're great for method, in terms of innovation, not so much when it comes to presentation.
That's I think, where we need to focus, if we're going to be consider artists.
FOLLOW: Richard Wiseman | https://richardwiseman.wordpress.com/
Psychologist | Author and Speaker | Creative Consultant | Magician
2. Gay Blackstone
Gay Blackstone: Hi, I'm Gay Blackstone. In the magic world. I was married to the late Harry Blackstone Jr and for many years I was the one who was shot out of the cannon, cut in half by a giant buzz-saw, and turned into a tiger.
I did all the fun things of the show, while Harry just stood there and went "Ta Da!"
Magic is art. Magic is thing that keeps the world going and without magic, there is no art. There's no world. There is no happiness because it is the miracle that keeps us all together. You don't realize that magic is everywhere around us. It's the sun. It's the moon, it's life itself. Magic was everywhere and it's definitely an art.
FOLLOW: Gay Blackstone | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gay_Blackstone
Television Producer & Director | 2007 Hollywood's Women of Distinction | Past-President Academy of Magical Arts | Spouse late Harry Blackstone Jr.
3. Franz Harary
Franz Harary: Hi, I'm Franz Harary. I am a working professional illusionist for the last, 'bout a hundred years now. And the question was brought to me, is magic an art? And the very idea that I would even hear that question kind of wants me to take a staple gun and put it through my brain. It makes me crazy. The problem we're facing as magicians, as anyone in the magic community, is that if you look at the rest of entertainment, if you'll look at the rest of art, to be a singer, dancer, actor, a playwright, a composer, anything, you need some modicum of talent. And that talent is either going to come naturally or most often it's going to come through training. Problem with magic is because of how it is perceived in the eyes of the audience. The most important element of magic is the secret.
Well, the secret comes not from the performer. Unfortunately, and we can talk about that, but rather from the designer. From the inventors. So, you've got 100 guys out there or more making a bowling ball appear, or you know, 500 guys floating a table and another 500 guys floating a table that they've ripped off from Losander. And there's so much of that going on there that it's become a big blur. You look on America's Got Talent and you see guys doing tricks that they bought online or at a magic shop. Probably rehearsed that afternoon, and now they're on America's Got Talent fooling what is supposedly the representation of, of you know, of the USA. And it's nuts, and it's getting worse. I was just talking to Mike Michael's, a great illusion builder, he's selling a helicopter appearance for around $15,000. And we talked about the fact that all you need today is $15,000, and you've got the helicopter. Go out and get yourself some cards printed and a website and boom, you are an illusionist.
So, the entire industry is completely out of whack. It is so corrupt. It is so distorted. There was a time when what it meant to be a magician was to be an artist. Keller, Blackstone, Houdini, Thurston, all these guys; they invented magic. And in inventing magic, they communicated their human experience. If you look at Houdini, Houdini's entire message was the suppression of immigrants during the turn of the century. You know, it is the communication of the human experience and that is what art is. Problem with magic. All that's been poultice shit. It is so gone. It's a bunch of guys copying Criss Angel and David Copperfield and Lance Burton. You pick one and you find their music and you find their costumes, and it's just the clone. Now, I've heard many, many art-- by the way, you can tell you hit a button with this question! I've heard many, many arguments from people about, "Well, why do you need to invent your own stuff?
Why do you need to be original? Why does it count?" And the fact is you can make a living buying somebody else's stuff and doing it. But if you're an artist, it's like being a karaoke singer. I can tell you I would, I would shoot myself rather than doing somebody else's stuff. I was forced to do an origami, great trick, but I was forced to do it a couple of years ago. I just wanted to die. You know, it's-- if you are an artist, the idea of painting someone else's picture by number makes you frickin crazy. And yet that is what the majority of magic is. The reason that the question was even asked "Is Magic Art," is because the community today is so fantastically misguided. Anybody you speak to, 80% of those people are going to look at magic as a craft to be perfected rather than an art to be forwarded.
And so long as there's this massive gap, this massive, this-- this abyss of understanding of what 'Art' is and how magic fits into it, we're screwed. So, the best I can tell you is if you're a magician, if you want to be a Magician, you absolutely must be doing your own stuff. And it must come from your experience; from your heart. Nobody cares about the magic that you are doing. Nobody cares about Copperfield because he vanished the Statue of Liberty. They care about that because of COPPERFIELD. When you go see any magician in Vegas, if they're good, you don't walk out of the theater going, "Oh, WOW. Did you see the thing where he did with the balloon? Then the card and the blah, blah, blah." You say, that's a really nice guy. I want to take him to dinner. I want to have lunch with that guy.
That is the end goal to what we're doing. Our job as magicians is to communicate that experience and to make the audience connect with us, and hopefully grow from our performance. And that's never going to happen if you're doing the same crap like a thousand other people are doing. So, is magic and art? Yes. Unequivocally it is. It is an art just as every other entertainment, performing art and fine art is. The problem is this entire community has been so grossly confused for so many years and it's continuing on that I don't know where it's all going to lead. I suspect in the next five to 10 years there's going to be a lot of weeding out of a lot of hacks that that did nothing more than take their rich uncle's money and buy a bunch of props. And when that happens, then we've got a shot at going back where we are. Until then, there was just a small pocket of guys in our community that are genuinely artists. You can identify them simply by looking around at who is inventing stuff, who is creating this stuff, who is, who is producing new magic. Producing new product, and in so communicating their experience. They're out there. But you got to look. I'm Franz Harary.
FOLLOW: Franz Harary | Internationally Acclaimed Illusionist | https://franzharary.com
Magician, Illusionist, & Magic Inventor
4. Lawrence Hass
Lawrence Hass: I don't have this high Falutin definition of what art is. I've taught aesthetics for many years. I think people kind of psych themselves out of the word. Art is really the use of material things to creatively express yourself in the world.
And of course, magicians can do that. I don't think the question really is 'Is magic art?' it 'Is your magic, good art or inferior art?' I think that's the thing magicians have to work on is making better art.
My name is Lawrence haas. I am the Dean of The McBride Magic and Mystery School in Las Vegas.
FOLLOW: Lawrence Hass | http://www.lawrencehass.com/
Magician, Speaker, Author & Teacher
5. David Penn
David Penn: David Penn I've been a professional magician since 1992. I think anything that evokes a feeling in somebody that, leaves them considering what they just saw, or experienced, or heard, can be considered art. And I think magic attacks the senses on so many levels. I think it has to be art. Right?
FOLLOW: David Penn | https://davidpenn.co.uk
Magician, Illusionist & Magic Creator
6. Mac King
Mac King: I dunno
FOLLOW: Mac King | Las Vegas Comedy Magic Show | https://mackingshow.com
Magician & Comedian | Magician of the Year" by the Magic Castle
The opinions seem to be unanimous: magic is art, but the community needs to raise the standards. Who do you agree with most?
What do you think? Leave a comment.
Are you a student of magic? Join a community Magicians Masterclass
Are you a fan of magic? OWOW Magic Festival Ontario, Canada
HAVE YOU SEEN THESE YET? MAGICIAN'S TALKING MAGIC