The Laws of Nature

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Community Discussion ... Day 5

(right) sculpture by Andy Goldsworthy

We began Day 4 by considering Mark’s question: “If nobody likes a painting is it bad?”

Margaret started the discussion with the opinion that art, because it is a creative form of communication that reflects the thoughts of the artist, can’t be bad for that reason. However, one could find fault with the technical aspects of the work if it isn’t well executed.

Rhonda agrees with Margaret, and feels that judgment of another’s work is a sensitive issue because it’s so personal. However, she notes that the works of many artists were considered “bad” during their lifetimes but were deemed a masterpiece posthumously. Great point!

Dan brought up for consideration the works of contemporary pop artist Romero Britto, who has reached celebrity status and markets a host of products with his work on it. Dan ponders whether Britto is attacked because of jealousy over his popularity and financial success as well as his non-painterly style. That’s worth a second glance, because – as he points out – this is the converse of Mark’s question; Britto’s work is deemed bad because it’s popular.He concludes that popularity or salability are probably irrelevant anyway, and that very good art can remain undiscovered and, therefore, never communicate with others as the artist had intended. A sad conclusion, indeed.

Susan’s comment returns to an earlier question raised by Margaret about “serious” versus “fluff” work. She remarked that quick studies are more like fluff whereas a mature painting is well-considered and takes longer to produce (a.k.a. serious work). However, she values the look of spontaniety and struggles to keep that quality in her more serious work. I chimed in to say that we’re all saying the same thing: “good” art is authentic work. It all boils down to the artist’s intent.

Carolyn noted the way in which Kincaid’s work is produced and marketed. Mass production by laborers who copy his work with just one dab of paint by Mr. K. and a final signature is the result of what probably began as a sincere effort by him to produce meaningful art. As Carolyn notes, authenticity has been lost.

L.W. gave us an entirely new perspective on this issue because of her previous involvement in European/Asian oil painting imports. These works were the types used on the sets of theaters, films, and TV and sold for little money. Her conversations with the artists who produced these paintings revealed that at least one of the artists who relied on this form of income used a pseudonym on this work and his real name on his “real” work. This allowed him to support both his family and his talent (makes sense to me!). Like you, L.W., I believe that artists are entitled to make a living doing what they do best.

Celeste closed the day’s conversation with her mental weariness of repetition. So many works offer the same concept or mimic one particular artist. Trends occur and more sales occur because of them. So, she posits, if you produce a painting with no other thought than to sell it then it’s a “bad thing.” (lol)

This concludes our four day community discussion …. or, does it? Would you like to continue this? Typically, I review art theory books for discussion here. But, our conversation is just as good as many of these books so I’m willing to continue my role as a facilitator for your ideas if you wish. When the conversation wanes I’ll start reviewing books again.

If you wish to continue, either pick up one of the threads of a topic or propose a new one. So far, it’s been great!! Thank you.


Linda Roth said...

As much as I love thinking about art theories, I hate thinking about art theories. I think thinking and theorizing kills art--particularly if you like the artist/writer's work.
Books and thinking caps are best left outside the studio door. Inside, intuition rules at my house. This doesn't mean I vote against art theory discussions. I just think that we shouldn't take them home. Each of us knows what works best for us.

Dan Kent said...

Kathy, your reviews have been eye-opening for me. They have been an education. I have enjoyed and learned from the last four-day thread and agree that we should do this periodically (in between each review might be an idea), but I truly love the reviews and comments they generate.

Carolyn Abrams said...

I like Dan's suggestion as well. In thinking of the mass production artwork such as Kincaid maybe it is the saturation of that work that dilutes the original concept. It was probably very unique work in the beginning but by flooding the populus with it quite possibly it became overdone. just my 2 cents!

Anonymous said...

I've been following and enjoying the thread. I think Dan states my shared view.
Doing reviews provides a structure to grab hold of. I like that.

elena nuez said...

how interesting this blog, I'll stay around here and see if I learn something, thanks!
grt from Spain

-Don said...

I missed a great discussion. That's what I get for leaving town for the weekend. Oh well, I look forward to whatever comes next... I hope you had a very creative weekend.


Mary Paquet said...

I wish I had been here to chime in. Great discussions. I love the reviews that you do and an occasional open discussion such as this thread is very interesting.

Celeste Bergin said...

Charles Hawthorne said all artists should have at least one other interest ASIDE from art..because if you do not you will be a boring person (Hawthorne said it, not me). Alright...I propose this question: do you have at least one other passion/interest besides art? If yes...what is it?

Unknown said...

Hi Celeste - good question! Ben Shahn wrote a great essay on all the ways in which an artist should expand his/her world through education and life experiences. As for me, I used to be accomplished on the piano and played professionally for a little while (until arthritis set in). My second profession (other than art) was as a geologist - a discipline learned later in life. As for hobbies: sailing (used to live on a sailboat), kayaking, swimming, hiking .... you get the picture.

What about the rest of you?

Carolyn Abrams said...

I have spent many years having other passions. Well maybe they weren't passions but more like work or obligations. Art always seemed to take a lower place on the totem pole so recently i have decided (and had the choice) to focus on all things art. So now i am down to teaching occasional community art classes and doing my art as well as enjoying art "field trips". Without so many other "things" on my mind I'm not as frustrated and maybe not as "interesting" but definitely enjoying my art a lot more!!

Mark Sheeky said...

I suppose, logically, that a popular artwork appeals to average tastes. The best (and worst) things will not be average, so it's possible that a great artwork, as well as a terrible one, could be disliked by everyone.

Anonymous said...

Mark said: "I suppose, logically, that a popular artwork appeals to average tastes."

Uh... another YIKES! I've got to stop reading these comments. Average taste? Is that even measurable?

Come on guys.