The Laws of Nature

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Value of Art

The value of art is a hotly debated topic, and one that directly affects us as artists. We can view the value of art as being both its monetary value and its value to society. During this week, I've been sharing with you ideas from Ben Shahn's book "The Shape of Content" because I find that his analyses are important to me during this period in my career as an artist. Here's what Shahn says about the value of art:
"It is not the degree of communicability that constitutes the value of art to the public. It is its basic intent and responsibility. A work of art in which powerful compassion is innate, or which contains extraordinary revelations concerning form, or manifests brilliant thinking, however difficult its language, will serve ultimately to dignify that society in which it exists. By the same argument, a work that is tawdry and calculating in intent is not made more worthy by being easily understood. One does not judge an Einstein equation by its communicability, but by its actual content and meaning." Once again, we return to the intention of the individual artist in order to give value to the work. How many of us paint in order to reveal our relationship with this world, and how many paint only for praise/fame and income? If I read Shahn's idea correctly, it looks like we artists are directly responsible for imparting value to our work.

9 comments:

Dean H. said...

I find your work and thoughts to be fascinating! I have happily become a follower.

Lisa Palombo said...

Love your" All Cracked Up Series" WOW! Thanks for stopping by my blog. Happy Painting!
Lisa

Sheila said...

Yay.. Dean H. found you. Another quick thinking point. I just finished watching the documentary, "My Kid could Paint That". Talk about controversy. I actually was disheartened after viewing it.

Kathy said...

Hi Dean, Lisa, and Sheila:
Thank you for reading my blog and contributing your comments! Sheila, please tell us more about the "My Kid Could Paint That" documentary. What points were raised? I'd love to hear more...

susan hong-sammons said...

okay I can buy most of what he said but what about the final visual result? It can't just be about good intentions can it? Speaking of which, I assuming you painted these eggs and shells. Love it. Love the design, love the various textures, love the play between abstraction and realism = an interesting captivating painting which makes me come back over and over again

Mark Sheeky said...

Interesting post. In my experience very few artists paint for money or fame... even hobbyists put the painting before idea of selling it. When reading biographies of artists, there seems to be a point when an artist becomes famous and them he paints for money. A trap to look out for... :)

Kathy said...

Thanks, Susan for commenting on my blog and for your generous assessment of my work. I think you make a really good point about the quality of the finished project, and agree with you that this counts a great deal! The intent of the artist is fundamentally important, in my opinion, but the quality of the work mustn't suffer.

Kathy said...

Mark,
Thanks so much for your comments. In fact, I've met any number of "budding" artists who paint seascapes, or barns, or covered bridges (etc) because they can make a quick buck on it. Look at Thomas Kinkade, for instance! I'd like to think that few people sell their souls in this way, but I see it all the time at art fairs.

Kathleen Weber said...

Hi Kathy, interesting stuff! And thanks for visiting my blog. I agree, we've all seen enough covered bridges to last a lifetime, but people do keep buying them... They're easy to understand; people don't want to struggle with art, they just want to enjoy it.