In terms of age, most people are somewhere between young and old. Almost everyone wants to grow old eventually and thus logically move toward old. Whether they also want to be old is another question: "Everyone wants to become old, but no one wants to be," it is sometimes said. Being young is still the norm. 'Young' is mentioned in the same breath as 'innovative', as if they were synonyms and as if the opposite were also true: 'old and conservative'.

They are clichés that are sometimes true and sometimes not but are not valid as a general rule, even though they are often acted upon as if they were.

For visual artists, it seems as if age plays a different role in their lives, as if the line from young to old takes different turns for them. They often continue to work well beyond retirement age, continue to develop themselves and their work and remain open to deepening their artistry. There are, of course, other professions for which this applies; perhaps it applies to everyone who enjoys what he or she does - and is healthy in body and soul - artist or non-artist.

The aging artist is in the spotlight, as evidenced by Leo Delfgaauw's essay that the Mondriaan Fund published earlier this year. The essay is well worth reading and provides enough material to think about. What does it mean to grow old in a world where being young is so highly valued, where you have to be secretive about your age from the age of 30, and where you occupy a marginal position on the labor market once you are over 50? What does it mean to grow older if, as an artist, you leave behind a lifetime of work and perhaps have not yet finished working? Are you still full of new ideas or just want to pass things on to new generations? And what does it mean for a career in the arts that most art awards are for young artists?

Being young carries a promise, and it can be more attractive than reality. That promise may be fulfilled as we grow older; it may not. Everyone wants to grow old; no one wants to be. While the climbing years bring many positives. Patience replaces restlessness, knowledge gradually takes the place of curiosity, wonder makes room for insight, and depth takes over from renewal. Experiences can be passed on and all that 'peace and wisdom' not infrequently leads to great heights.

Young and innovative is good and okay. Old and deepening by definition seems a bit boring. It is time to question that cliché and to include 'inclusiveness' not only in terms of cultural background and gender, for example, but also in terms of year of birth. And if, at the end of the day, everyone counts, we don't just want to be old, we want to be.

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