Artistic Freedom? I'm Against It.

Art is too important to be left to the discretion of artists. This goes for the whole gamut of art, including literature, visual arts and architecture. We put up with a lot of awful crap because we don’t want to be seen as ignorant philistines. Maybe it is time us ignorant philistines stand up for ourselves and take art back from the self proclaimed professionals.

Artists controlling their art is a recent phenomenon and it has not been a good thing. Great art resulted from the creative tension between what artists wanted to produce and art patrons agreed to pay for. Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo and Raphael (the artists not the turtles) all worked for money and produced their art on contract subject to approval. Art was better then. It remained good as long as it remained subject to the judgment of non artists and went off the tracks when it started to be funded by government bureaucrats and artists stopped being accountable to the end users.

Architecture is a large and public form of art that illustrates this monumentally. From about 1930 to about 1970, architecture worldwide sucked. There were some exceptions, but worldwide buildings all started to resemble big boxes or unliveable angles. People were just distractions to the artists. I lived in Brasilia a while back. It is an unpleasant place to live (at least the monument parts), but artists and architects love the place. Nobody wanted to appear uneducated so they allowed the world's cities to be covered with unattractive blocks and unpleasant buildings.

The same goes for visual arts. As a talent free individual, my simple test for art is that if I think I could do it, it is not art. I can draw cubes, install bathroom fixtures poorly and I can toss paint at canvas, so I figure those things are not art. I have nothing against someone calling such things art. I just don't want to pay for it.

You know where real art is being created today? At theme parks. Theme parks create an experience. That is what art does. You may laugh, but think about it. If you have been to Rome, Venice, Paris or London, you know that the parts of those cities people come to see were created essentially to amuse the elites and the amaze the hoi polloi. This does not mean they did not strive for excellence; it only means that the artists were not free to indulge their narcissistic proclivities

Places like Disney World or Busch Gardens work hard to create a unique experience for their customers. The work of hundreds of artists goes into creating these experiences. I think that is more impressive than some clown who submerges a cross in urine or stacks a bunch of colored bricks, but I am just a philistine.

Posted by Jack at May 21, 2006 1:43 AM
Comments
Comment #149825

Artistic freedom? I’m for it.

Posted by: Tim Crow at May 21, 2006 2:13 AM
Comment #149826

Tim

When you buy a house, if you can afford it, do you just take what the builder wants to make? Don’t you have a right to choose?

An artist, like anyone else, can do what he wants if he pays for it himself. But if I buy a house, I want it to be the way I want it, not the way the artist says it should be. Why is his judgement better than mine?

I used to be in a position to hire artists. I told them what I needed. They often complained about their freedom and I told them that I respected their freedom as they respected mine. They could make whatever they wanted, but I would only pay for what I liked.

Posted by: Jack at May 21, 2006 2:17 AM
Comment #149829

Jack, are you running for KIng?

Posted by: gergle at May 21, 2006 2:37 AM
Comment #149830

You cannot run for king.

I am being anti elite. Let people decide what they like. Why should an artist dictate what you like?

Posted by: Jack at May 21, 2006 2:49 AM
Comment #149833

House building isn’t fine art. Obviously, if you want a house built and you hire an architect, you have first say in what you want. If the architect doesn’t want to do it, get another one.

In fine art, you are still in the driver’s seat. If the art offends you or isn’t your cup of tea, turn it off, walk out, leave. What’s the problem?

Posted by: Tim Crow at May 21, 2006 2:55 AM
Comment #149834

Critics - Artists who cannot create their own art.

Posted by: Aldous at May 21, 2006 3:01 AM
Comment #149837

An artist of the nature you complain about might ask: can you conceive it?

Anyway, great art creates questions and ideas about not just aesthetics, but about all the things of life. There is no doubt that the Sistene Chapel is not about entertainment, as a matter of fact, with one wall primarily about the state of the soul in death, it’s about a little bit more than a roller coaster tends to be. On the other hand, who knows what spurs a great thought?

Perhaps the cross in the urine after all…

Anyway, enjoy your art, and let others enjoy theirs, and if the US taxpayers pay for some of it, know they pay much much much much much much much much much more for the war in Iraq…

Posted by: andrew at May 21, 2006 3:22 AM
Comment #149841

I’m typing this naked. That’s my artistic statement.

Posted by: gergle at May 21, 2006 3:41 AM
Comment #149842

And what an image it conjures….:-)

Posted by: Tim Crow at May 21, 2006 4:08 AM
Comment #149846

This guy was in line to kill Socrates. “Duh, all he does is talk and I can do that.”

Posted by: nutty little nut nut at May 21, 2006 4:41 AM
Comment #149848

Ah, the thought police intrude into another area of our lives. i assume you would prefer that the administration be allowed to vett all forms of creative expression before it is allowed into the public square. So you would have us all enter the world of never-never land for our cultural education.

Posted by: synecdoche at May 21, 2006 5:18 AM
Comment #149851


Jack. You will have a hard time getting an argument out of me concerning much of what passes as art these days. However, I don’ think the architecture part is quite so cut and dried as you make out. Take the empire state building, I think it is a far better looking building than those two ugly boxes we called the world trade center. And, modern houses, hire an architect if you will, you will still have a ugly box. How did the song go, somebody put up a bunch of boxes and Jesus people bought them. Every time I see a piece of junkyard art sell for tens of thousands of dollars, I feel stupid for not going straight to the junkyard.

I am still in favor of government funding of the arts. Perhaps we could have a compromise. The government gives an artist a stipend while he creates his art. The artist sells his art to whoever is willing to buy it and then the artist reimburses the government. If the artist cannot sell his art then perhaps the artist should consider becoming a house painter.

Posted by: jlw at May 21, 2006 6:08 AM
Comment #149853

Art is about as defineable as intelligence, imagination or the soul. Only fools try. If you don’t like something, don’t look at it. Besides, the art world is as much a free market as any. If the works that you so readily you dismiss are simple ideas you could have come up with on your own, why do they have so much value? Why isn’t the market flooded? Why aren’t you filthy rich from your sales? So quick to judge. Shame on you.

Posted by: ray-ray at May 21, 2006 6:56 AM
Comment #149855

“I’m typing this naked. That’s my artistic statement.”

: >..? Me Too! - Wow this feels just like my favorite chat room!

Posted by: tony at May 21, 2006 8:16 AM
Comment #149857

This art discussion hit our city (Raleigh) about 10 years or so ago. The city purchased the “Time & Light” tower from a near-death artist. (It turned out to be his last piece.) Some people loved, many people hated it… it wasn’t “pretty.”

First - this art lives on the most industrialized road in Raleigh. Why would anyone put an “pretty” piece of art there?

Second - it looks like anything other than art… maybe some solar paneled something or other… It’s got amazing color when the light hits it just right, but it’s very functional.

Third - everybody has an opinion about it. People loved it, people were pissed… no matter what your opinion of the tower, it’s one of the most discussed pieces of art - it’s kind of a symbol for our town. There’s a ton of pretty art that no one knows about, cares about and forgets within minutes of seeing.

Fourth - it’s worth a fortune.

As far as leaving art to the average guy. Go for it! Come on, no one has ever stopped anyone from trying to be an artist. Now, making a living as an artist requires skill… and if we follow your logic, as soon as you “make it” you should stop.

People absolutely hated the Eiffel Tower when it was built, btw.

Posted by: tony at May 21, 2006 8:30 AM
Comment #149858

ray-ray,

“If the works that you so readily you dismiss are simple ideas you could have come up with on your own, why do they have so much value?”

Because most folk’s taste is in their mouth?

Classic artists study their subjects and take the time and energy to learn the effects of lighting, the mixing of media, and the effect it has on the eye.
Modern art seems more about marketing and less about talent.


Posted by: Rocky at May 21, 2006 8:37 AM
Comment #149863

“Modern art seems more about marketing and less about talent.”

I’d have to disagree with you on this… modern art is talent with a reflection of the times we live in. It’s a statement being made… not something pretty to hand on your living room wall.

Posted by: tony at May 21, 2006 8:55 AM
Comment #149865

What about supply and demand? If a consumer likes the art they pay for it, if they do not like it, they do not buy it. If the artisit wants to make a living, then they produce what can sell.

I really do not understand what the complaint is. Isn’t this just simple economics? I put up with crappy art all the time. Mostly because consumers do not know what good art is. So a lot of junk is prduced that will sell.

Of all the things to complain about…

Posted by: Steve at May 21, 2006 9:10 AM
Comment #149866

rocky,

Modern art may ‘seem’ to be all about marketing and not talent, but I think it’s because you have a narrow view of what constitutes talent. Most modern artists have solid classical training. Why does art have to be an actual representation of something existing in the physical world? Realism is not the be-all-end-all for artistic analysis. Color, shape, and texture can alone evoke a myriad of emotional and intellectual responses. This goes beyond the subjective, these are well researched facts. Stop trying to define art. Like what you like and leave the rest of us to do the same.

Posted by: ray ray at May 21, 2006 9:16 AM
Comment #149869

Tony,

“It’s a statement being made… not something pretty to hand on your living room wall.”

I disagree.

If I remember correctly you work in video. You have honed your skills to make your “art”.
I used to program laser light shows and it took many years to learn what effects worked and what didn’t. Rarely, was it without some input from the end customer.
Art has never really been about pretty, or about making a “statement” alone, but the combination that makes the whole work.
The Sistine Chapel didn’t just happen, neither did the works of Moran.

Would you say that THX 1138 was Lucas’s best work?
I would say that while it may be “art” that shows the promise of what may lay ahead, it wasn’t that good as art standing alone.

Art may take many forms in many various types of media, but if it not pleasing to the eye, or ear what is exactly the point?

Posted by: Rocky at May 21, 2006 9:27 AM
Comment #149870

Tim et al

Maybe my title was too provocative or I didn’t make myself clear. I don’t want to take proactive steps to stop anyone making art of almost any kind. What I am rebelling against it the idea that artists are somehow special as a group or that we need to accept or support them. It is not a new idea or my idea particularly. Read “Self Reliance:”

“The picture waits for my verdict: it is not to command me, but I am to settle its claims to praise.” I agree with Emerson.

Re Architecture - that is the form of art the most often affects us. I think architecture, city planning and even landscaping are arts. A well shaped arch or a beautifully organized grove to oak trees is certainly much more edifying better to contemplate than most of the crap in a gallery of modern art (especially where the artists are paid with public funds).

Nutty

The part of the “Apology of Socrates” you might want to reread follows:

“At last I went to the artisans; I was conscious that I knew nothing at all, as I may say, and I was sure that they knew many fine things; and here I was not mistaken, for they did know many things of which I was ignorant, and in this they certainly were wiser than I was. But I observed that even the good artisans fell into the same error as the poets;, because they were good workmen they thought that they also knew all sorts of high matters, and this defect in them overshadowed their wisdom.”

Jlw

Which do you like better, the Empire State Building or the Chrysler Building? Both were still built with style. Now consider the Sears Tower or the former WTC.

You know that many fine architects of the middle 20th Century were critical of the extravagance of the sky scrapers of the Art Deco period. There were exceptions, but the style of the middle century was to avoid ostentation and make everything dull.

The person paying the bills has the duty to make sure the artist he employs does not far into the error of thinking he is only to express HIMSELF.

Posted by: Jack at May 21, 2006 9:35 AM
Comment #149871

I have always thought that the National Endowment for the Arts should be funded with a yes/no check box on the individual Federal Tax Form. They’d probably get more money.

Posted by: alice moore at May 21, 2006 9:39 AM
Comment #149872

As a would-be filmmaker and screenwriter, I can tell you from personal experience that even doing what looks easy is no easy task. There’s a reason why every videographer doesn’t produce Spielbergian results.

Even then, one reason that a lot of the figurative (and sometimes literal) pieces of crap get put out as art is simply that there’s a market for it, a number of people for whom the quality of the art is secondary to its value in the game of trendiness and status.

Art is upper-level communication. Instead of relating simple information, we create complex sensory experiences. This can range from the shapes of a sculpture, to the taste of food, to the reconstructive memory-like experience of storytelling.

The Market can’t create good art by itself. People tend to get overused art ingrained in their brains. Folks in marketing often don’t realize that one of the brain’s functions is to internalize complex sensory experiences. We call that memory.

You can mass produce an aesthetic, but true art is custom made, and exists as an individual phenomenon, even when distributed to a mass audience. It’s best, really, if you can get people to forget the business relationship and reach a deeper connection.

Unfortunately, the market mentality is distinctly autistic today. It has strong drives that collide with the consequences of being locked inside its own culture, dissociated from the opinion of the person who doesn’t have to cheerlead the company to keep their job.

Also, because of its complex nature, nobody can say for sure precisely what art truly works before somebody goes ahead and tries. We can have a general idea of that, but not much more. Still, the big businesses want more predictable, so they push things here. Modern focus on jacking up profits compels them to essentially burn right through the creative value of their work with excessive speed.

If you want art to do what it once did, you have to return to a perspective rooted not in intense self interest, but a will to strike and explore the world around you. You have to willingly engage the trouble and disturbing elements of life, but also willingly engage the joys and comforts of it, too. The focus on money or the avoidance of it has been a distraction, really. Art is about the experience of our lives, and how we engage the world around us. There’s a reason why myth and mythologica works still persist in our world, why this culture hungers so desperately after its own myths and zeitgeists. We need something more than materialism at work in our lives.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 21, 2006 9:42 AM
Comment #149873

ray-ray,

“Realism is not the be-all-end-all for artistic analysis. Color, shape, and texture can alone evoke a myriad of emotional and intellectual responses. This goes beyond the subjective, these are well researched facts. Stop trying to define art. Like what you like and leave the rest of us to do the same.”

True art has to be about more than how much crap can you fit in a 5 pound bag.

Posted by: Rocky at May 21, 2006 9:44 AM
Comment #149874

Jack:

So, to clarify your position, this is basically an extended rant against the NEA, PBS, and similar programs wherein the artists cannot make enough money to survive by simply selling their work or receiving donations straight from the public?

Posted by: Jarandhel at May 21, 2006 9:50 AM
Comment #149875

I TOTALLY agree. you nailed it, at times I can not
believe what some of these pseudo
artists are calling art, (urine cross) and others
it is just plain unbelievable.

Posted by: Montie R at May 21, 2006 9:54 AM
Comment #149876

ray-ray,

Would you agree that what “artists” such as Thomas Kinkade do is less about the art and more about a clever marketing scam?

I would never propose that realism is a criteria for the definition of art.

True art, though, should play upon the imagination of the beholder, be it words, painting, photos, music or whatever.

Posted by: Rocky at May 21, 2006 10:04 AM
Comment #149880

“Art may take many forms in many various types of media, but if it not pleasing to the eye, or ear what is exactly the point?”

“pseudo
artists are calling art, (urine cross) and others
it is just plain unbelievable. “

I was just going to bring up the “Piss Christ” ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piss_Christ )

Of course it’s art - only the ill-informed would question whether it’s art or not. You might interpret it as in bad taste, or rude or insulting… and I would bet that the artist would be expecting and wishing for just that kind of response. In fact, your response is probably the exact response this artist has to the modern perversion of a once good religion. It evokes very strong emotions, but why people fail to see the correlation/statement is beyond me.

IMO - it’s not very good art because I thought it was a bit too obvious… but the fact that some many people know about this art is exactly the reason this piece of art was created in the manner it was. Why so many people miss the obvious message is also probably pat of the frustration the artist expressed in Piss Christ.

Posted by: tony at May 21, 2006 10:33 AM
Comment #149881

I think a good case might be made for comparing chefs/food with artists/art…

Posted by: Lynne at May 21, 2006 10:38 AM
Comment #149883

Jack said:

I am just a philistine.

Nice to know that if one waits long enough, the truth always comes out.

Posted by: Lynne at May 21, 2006 10:51 AM
Comment #149885


What if the government who loves to print volumes of bullshit could print a catalog of every agency that needs a buck is listed with a synopsis of its function and budget. Be it the Mohair Commission entrusted with securing the quality of imported Mohair or the Defense Department or H.U.D. or the darkest most clandestine agency working on the next big “star wars” project. If it is something that I am interested in and support I just check the box and to what percentage I wish to support it until my bill totals my tax obligation. If your favorite agency is the N.E.A. and it does not get enough interest and funding BY THOSE THAT ARE INTERESTED IN IT! Then it will just not happen that year and any funding it does get will go into the general fund. Agencies would be responsible for promoting their usefulness to gain support next year. This way the people have spoken and we don’t need a bunch of useless, out of work Lawyers posing as politicians in parttime jobs playing with our lives.

Posted by: R. Paul Gani at May 21, 2006 10:55 AM
Comment #149889

There have been others who have complained about too much elitism and art. (One might remember the Emperor’s retort to Mozart in the play, “Amadeus”—‘too many notes.’) More ominously, History is full of those who have, like Jack, favored “helping” artists to decide what to create. For example:

“Our literary and art workers must accomplish this task and shift their stand; they must gradually move their feet over to the side of the workers, peasants and soldiers, to the side of the proletariat…Only in this way can we have a literature and art that are truly for the workers, peasants and soldiers, a truly proletarian literature and art.”

Mao Zedong
“Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art” (May 1942), Selected Works, Vol. III, p. 78.

The Cultural Revolution led to attacks on art and artists considered by the CCP as too elite, too intellectual, and not sufficiently patriotic. Many of China’s greatest writers, composers, and artists were dragged into the streets by the Red Guards (students, 18-24), beaten, humiliated, and, in some cases, killed. (For a particularly graphic example, I recommend the GPCR scene in Chen Kaige’s “Farewell my Concubine”)

Free artistic expression is the hallmark of a progressive, modern society. If Jack wishes to become Minister of Culture in a regime whose purpose is to censor and condemn art he doesn’t understand or that challenges his worldview, perhaps he might find a job with the Taliban.

Posted by: J. at May 21, 2006 11:09 AM
Comment #149891

J,

“There have been others who have complained about too much elitism and art.”

Contrast the two statements.

“If Jack wishes to become Minister of Culture in a regime whose purpose is to censor and condemn art he doesn’t understand or that challenges his worldview, perhaps he might find a job with the Taliban.”

Ironic, isn’t it?

Who’s censoring whom?

Posted by: Rocky at May 21, 2006 11:16 AM
Comment #149893

Freedom of the press? I’m Against It.

News is too important to be left to the discretion of reporters. This goes for the whole gamut of news, including print, TV and blogs. We put up with a lot of awful crap because we don’t want to be seen as ignorant philistines. Maybe it is time us ignorant philistines stand up for ourselves and take art back from the self proclaimed professionals.

Reporters controlling what they report is a recent phenomenon and it has not been a good thing. Great reporting resulted from the creative tension between what reporters wanted to produce and news readers what to head. Jack Kelly, Armstrong Williams, Eric Simmons, and Jack Matel all worked for money from the Bush administration, or else told their readers what they wanted to heard, not …

I quit, this one is too easy. I’m going to throw some paint at a urinal.

Posted by: William Cohen at May 21, 2006 11:22 AM
Comment #149895

William,

“I’m going to throw some paint at a urinal.”

Now that’s art.

Posted by: Rocky at May 21, 2006 11:28 AM
Comment #149896

“If I remember correctly you work in video. You have honed your skills to make your “art”.”

Rocky -

There’s a vast difference between fine and applied art. What I do sometimes might be considered art, but a good bit of what I do is straight forward project management - lots of trading email and budget management stuff. I’m also contracted by my clients to produce video.

I don’t consider this art. It’s much more of a trade.

Posted by: tony at May 21, 2006 11:36 AM
Comment #149897

Tony,

“I don’t consider this art. It’s much more of a trade.”

Do you not use lighting to enhance your subjects?
Or reflectors to bend the light to your will?
Ever use a moving Dutch angle?
You’ve got to know that color-corrected pink has it’s uses as well.

Anybody can point and shoot a camera, and often it ends up being a boring slide or video show for the relatives at Christmas.
Even a news cameraman must be an artist to get his point across.

Don’t sell yourself short.
The techniques you find banal, are what sets you apart from the point and shoot crowd, and that, is what makes you an artist.

Posted by: Rocky at May 21, 2006 11:50 AM
Comment #149898

Rocky -

Yes - I use those tools, as well as others to get the desired look I think will support the message. Some of it could be called art… but I would never consider myself an artist - there’s too much function to the form to make what I do a true artistic venture.

If you want to take a look - here’s my reel:
http://myriadmedia.net/Myriad_Media_Demo2006.html
(This is just about to launch - so please let me know if this works… thanks)

This is the most artistic thing we’ve done - and I think there are some nice looking images and cutting to this piece, but it’s not even the same ballpark as “art”. (Well, there’s some film from a documentary I shot, and it’s very artistic - so maybe that might count… maybe.)

Posted by: tony at May 21, 2006 12:00 PM
Comment #149903

Tony,

Well done!

It worked just fine.

The editing, music and techniques you used allow the whole to transcend the sum.

Frankly, I’ll take your video over “Piss Christ” as art any day.

Posted by: Rocky at May 21, 2006 12:18 PM
Comment #149905

A cross in urine speaks volumes to me. It probably does to you as well, or you wouldn’t have used it as your example. I notice that a good number of the “great” artists you referenced amde their livings painting or sculpting largely religious tributes, but the negative example you gave is clearly anti-religion. So is it “bad art” that you don’t want funded by the government, or just art that you disagree with?

Posted by: David S at May 21, 2006 12:21 PM
Comment #149908

On the subject of modern art, the people who disregard it are usually the same people who disregard Coltrane because you can’t hum along with a the melody. It’s a basic progressive/conservative difference: the progressive wants to be made aware of all points of view, no matter how alarming or discomforting. The conservative wants to believe that the world is as simply beautiful as a Bob Ross landscape, or an Irving Berlin melody. Any art that forces them to face truth in its most basic form makes them uncomfortable, so they will try to silence it. See also: Maplethorpe, NWA, Janet Jackson’s breast.

Posted by: David S at May 21, 2006 12:29 PM
Comment #149910

“Frankly, I’ll take your video over “Piss Christ” as art any day.”

Wow - thanks! (I think…?) I hope many people feel this way.

I still don’t think it is art… simply because it really is to self-serving.

A curious think about Piss Christ. If you look at the photo - it’s very ominous… a very strong image. I wonder what people would say if they had no idea about the materials used?

Posted by: tony at May 21, 2006 12:33 PM
Comment #149911

David S,

“I notice that a good number of the “great” artists you referenced amde their livings painting or sculpting largely religious tributes, but the negative example you gave is clearly anti-religion.”

Those “great” artists made their living doing “religious” themes because that is what sold at the time.

Posted by: Rocky at May 21, 2006 12:34 PM
Comment #149913

Tony,

How does, any religious article suspended in any liquid, become art?

Aside from the urine, which I can only assume is original, isn’t using the plastic crucifix, which I believe is someone else’s work, without permission plagiarism?

IMHO, any discussion about this piece in particular, as art, is just so much navel gazing.

No offence meant to anybody, but I wasn’t as much offended by the piece as bored.
Where was the great ho hum when we really needed it?

Posted by: Rocky at May 21, 2006 12:50 PM
Comment #149915

Regarding architecture. Almost every architect works on commission. Because of that, the buildings that they design have to meet the approval of their patrons. So if you don’t like a building, don’t blame the architect, blame the person who paid them.

Regarding art: I spent several hours yesterday at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Wa. Three of those hours were spent watching a team of four people work in front of a blast furnace to make a blown-glass vase. Let me reiterate that: four people, three hours, one vase. Did I like that vase? Not particularly. But I certainly did get an appreciation for the amount of effort that goes into making it. And the dedication of the people making their art.

The greatness of ancient societies is measured today by the greatness of their art. Some day, our society will be measured the same way.

Posted by: ElliottBay at May 21, 2006 1:15 PM
Comment #149920

I fine point to be debating….or should I say a diversion?

There are a lot of posts I’ve enjoyed from you, Jack, but I see this as a diversion from current and pressing issues.

Posted by: Tom L at May 21, 2006 1:37 PM
Comment #149922

What is “Art” can not be quantified by one person, or one group of people. Art is ALWAYS personal, and therefore, what one likes will be suited to ones tastes and outlook on life, as well as the mysterious workings of ones unique and individual subconsious.

Often, the vision of an artist can be ahead of its time, and only later does their Art begin to appeal to the wider taste of the public. For instance, Van Gogh never sold a painting during his lifetime. Now his works sell for outrageous sums of money. Another example would be the work of the Surrealists. Their Art used to appeal to a very small segment of society, yet now there are huge shows featuring the works of these men and women that tour the world and draw enormous numbers of people who are eager to view them.

In Architechture, one might look at the buildings that Antoni Gaudi designed and built in Barcelona. The public once denounced them as garish and over-wrought, but now they are so well loved that they are actually a travel destination. Today, Gaudi is hailed as a genius of unique vision all over the world.
I might site many similar examples in poetry, or fiction, or sculpture, or photography or film-making, but I’m sure you get the idea.

Another aspect to this subject lies with exposure. Developing a taste for some styles and forms of Art can actually be acquired if one has the patience and is open-minded enough to simply try. For instance, there are many people who have, and still do, dismiss the works of an abstract expressionist like Jackson Pollack as being nothing but spatters of paint thrown at a canvas. But if they took the time to actually stand before these paintings and really LOOK at them, really absorb them with their eyes, they might begin to feel an almost euphoric energy that many of them radiate. Beyond that, they might begin to notice the unique caligraphic quality they possess — the gestural elegance that Pollack was innovating.
Of course, maybe people will find that no matter how much time they give to looking at certain pieces of art, it will never appeal to them, or make them develop an appreciation for it. Nonetheless, it’s still important for them to keep in mind that other people may be experiencing something quite different when they do the same.

Lynne wrote:
“I think a good case might be made for comparing chefs/food with artists/art…”

Isn’t this saying that people can only get real, true enjoyment from highly trained chefs and/or artists? I disagree with that idea completely. I’m able to enjoy a whole wide gamut of food and art — from the rarified and complex, all the way down to the common and simple. From an expensive five star restaurant, to inexpensive food you stand and eat on the street. In my view, there are the same kinds of highs and lows in Art — and in my experience, real enjoyment can be found all along that spectrum.

Btw, I’m an artist (a painter who minored in art in college) who has sold her works, but who has never done that for a living because I didn’t feel like starving. Nor have I ever wanted to be told what to paint by others (whether by collectors, gallery owners, or art agents) in order to make a living at it. I’m also a fiction writer (so far, three books) who doesn’t make her living that way either — though I wouldn’t mind seeing my work published one of these days.

I do these things because they come naturally to me, because I like doing them, and because I feel I HAVE to do them. In the process of creating either my art or my writing, I’m never thinking of how I might be paid for those endeavors. In fact, if I had to do so, it would no doubt bring all of my creativity to a dead stop. The point I’m trying to make is this: for some people, such acts of personal expression are their own reward — and while the selling of them is really nice, it is never the reason for doing them in the first place.

Artistic Freedom? In my opinion, those two words actually mean the same thing. Without freedom, all you end up with is skilled Artisans working at the direction of others, rather than Artists producing unique Art of their own expression.

Posted by: Adrienne at May 21, 2006 1:57 PM
Comment #149923

Adrienne, you totally misinterpreted my posting:

Lynne wrote: “I think a good case might be made for comparing chefs/food with artists/art”

Isn’t this saying that people can only get real, true enjoyment from highly trained chefs and/or artists? I disagree with that idea completely.

I am merely saying that even chefs (cooks, if that pleases you) prepare food in a myriad of ways…some very “arty” to look at, but what does it taste like? There are thousands of things I’d never eat that a chef might make, just as there are thousands of pieces of art that I’d never consider bringing home with me…both artists and chefs are free to cook or produce whatever they want…but I’m free to pick and choose what I like and what I purchase.

Nothing more, nothing less.

I’m a potter and a painter…I don’t even like some of my own works; I also cook a lot, and there have been know to have been total flops that I didn’t like at all and which my husband thought were yummy.

Now do you get my point???

Posted by: Lynne at May 21, 2006 2:10 PM
Comment #149924

Lynne:
“Now do you get my point???”

I do. In fact, in different ways, I think we are actually saying the same thing! :^)

Posted by: Adrienne at May 21, 2006 2:21 PM
Comment #149926

Awww, two artsy libs, who are so much more enlightned than me, getting along.
That is sweet.

Posted by: andy at May 21, 2006 2:29 PM
Comment #149927

“The greatness of ancient societies is measured today by the greatness of their art. Some day, our society will be measured the same way.”

Raleigh will become an ignored city in 1000 years. People here (in general) have no value in art and do NOT want to spend public money on it. In fact, anything… public building or space that at all resembles art is immediately questioned. The Time & Light Tower (mentioned above - is worth way more than we paid) caused a very decent person to loose her City Council position simply because she was on the commission that voted to purchase it. We are now having an uproar about the revitalization of downtown BECAUSE PEOPLE HAVE PROPOSED DOING SOMETHING ARTISTIC with it.

Why can’t we help build a city that we are proud of? Why can’t we have a city that really has personality? We have a $2 billion surplus…

Posted by: tony at May 21, 2006 2:31 PM
Comment #149928

“Awww, two artsy libs, who are so much more enlightned than me, getting along.
That is sweet.”

Awww, a conservative seemingly threatened by something he doesn’t understand, making a nasty little comment.
How typical.

Posted by: Adrienne at May 21, 2006 2:47 PM
Comment #149931

Guess some people will never enjoy public art…Oro Valley, near here, has public art all over…gas stations (stylistic Indian woman sculture), Walgreen’s back lot (sculpted people & kids on benches or “playing”), Safeway’s parking lot (a movable family of javelinas)…it makes for a nice way to live. Although nothing, but nothing “arty” can compete totally successfully with nature…we have 5 mountain ranges, desert, forests (on top of the mountain), and sunsets that are nothing if not passionate art in themselves.

I pity people who are unable to see the beauty surrounding them…

Andy, you should actually go to an art museum (they have free days, so you wouldn’t be “wasting” your money) and look, really look at various artworks…go to a lot of little “in the parking lot” art shows featuring local artists…try your hand at throwing pots, decorative painting , calligraphy…something…your life will be much richer for it.

And don’t worry too much about Adrienne and I agreeing…we’re both educated women not afraid to discuss, disagree, and, yes, even agree!!

Posted by: Lynne at May 21, 2006 2:58 PM
Comment #149932

Lynne,

“try your hand at throwing pots,”

I’m afaid if andy threw a pot, he might break something

Posted by: Rocky at May 21, 2006 3:03 PM
Comment #149934

Jack, what about the pedagogic function of art? Certainly, Picasso and Pollack had something valuable to teach, even if you didn’t learn what that was.

What about the social statement function of art? Picasso’s series on the atrocities of war, were they not valuable social statements for his time? For all time?

Sure, there is a role for experiential art as in the theme parks, but, if that is your criteria, then shouldn’t sexual surrogates also be treated as art?

One has to be very careful and will never find an easy criteria by which to assess the value and function of art. If it is old, is it art? The paintings at Altimira, are they not art? Is it because they are ancient? If so, then why do we tear down old buildings from 18th and 19th century which reflected anti-bellum, gothic, and victorian forms of art? Should we keep all things old, because they are art? Or is age not the determinant of what is art?

Yes, one must be very careful, and there is no simple criteria for defining art. And if one cannot define art, then how can one regulate it for funding and not funding?

Your treatment of this topic is woefully inadequate and begs far more questions and answers none.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 21, 2006 3:24 PM
Comment #149937

Lynne, if its pretty, is it art? Is the face of Gwenneth Paltrow or Jurgen Prochnow art? Or is beauty in the eye of the beholder? If so, then who is to say what is art, and what is not for society?

Dig deeper, art is not so easily defined. Defining art is like trying to paint one’s own soul with a mirror.

Without history, can one appreciate art? Or is art a function of history. Is there a reason most artists don’t become recognized except posthumously? And if one cannot appreciate art without history, how does going to an art museum help one to appreciate art. Wouldn’t they be better served taking a history class, instead of visiting a gallery or museum of art?

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 21, 2006 3:31 PM
Comment #149938

Tony, does function follow form, or form follow function in public buildings? Which is art, and which is not? Is architectural art defined by public monies spent, or can a graffit on an interstate underpass also be art? I have seen very beautiful, pedagogic, and enlightening graffiti. Is it art? Should public monies be dedicated to graffiti as art?

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 21, 2006 3:34 PM
Comment #149940
As a talent free individual, my simple test for art is that if I think I could do it, it is not art. I can draw cubes, install bathroom fixtures poorly and I can toss paint at canvas, so I figure those things are not art. I have nothing against someone calling such things art. I just don’t want to pay for it.

It doesn’t suprise me that you don’t. Everyone wants his own values reflected in art, especially if they commisioned it. As one who “pulled himself up by his own bootstraps” in life, one of the most important qualitites for you is that the work represents a lifetime of discipline, professionalism, and devotion to the form. Add to that the fact that, on some level, you view public discourse as being necessarily logical and I can see why “piss christ” doesn’t strike you as art.

Places like Disney World or Busch Gardens work hard to create a unique experience for their customers. The work of hundreds of artists goes into creating these experiences. I think that is more impressive than some clown who submerges a cross in urine or stacks a bunch of colored bricks, but I am just a philistine.

No you aren’t. In fact, I bet you are genuinely offended and disturbed that some people can “toss paint on canvas” and get paid like a lifetime of effort had gone into developing the skill. After all, every dollar we put into this stuff represents real work done by someone, somewhere, right?

Maybe it is time us ignorant philistines stand up for ourselves and take art back from the self proclaimed professionals.

First you’ll have to convince people to look at art (and life) like you do. That sure won’t be easy, but then life rarely is. Heh.

Posted by: Amani at May 21, 2006 3:37 PM
Comment #149941

Adrienne, your comments closer than others to uncovering what is art. But, is personal expression of a compulsive nature what defines art, and artistic freedom? If one has no choice but to create art, is that expression free? If one is paid, does the work cease to be art, and become craftsmanship?

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 21, 2006 3:38 PM
Comment #149943

“Should public monies be dedicated to graffiti as art?”

It already is… http://www.graffiti.org/ (I’m pretty sure this is publicly funded.)

I think anything can have artistic value - and that we define our culture in these works. I don’t think that a public building is exactly pure art, but I do think it has intrinsic value.

I guess maybe these things are better described as trades or crafts… ???

Posted by: tony at May 21, 2006 3:49 PM
Comment #149944

Tony, many of Frank Lloyd Wright’s works are considered art. The great cathedral in Rome is considered art in architecture. Why these, and not the local convenience store for example or, the Sears Tower? Why is the Golden Gate Bridge considered a work of art and not a train trestle crossing Cibolo Creek in Texas? Or is the Golden Gate rather the subject of art, but, not art in and of itself? If that is the case, then again, why is Frank Lloyd Wright’s home over running water art, and the Golden Gate not.

Certainly the Taj Majal is not considered a trades and crafts home for the wealthy, but art, in and of itself, despite the finest tradesman and crafts persons in the world having created it.

The philosophy of art was one of the most challenging courses I ever took in college, because of questions like these. Art is one of the most elusive endeavors of the human species to define. Yet, there is general agreement among the species that some things are Art, and other things Not.

How can there be such general concensus, without definition? What effect does art have on people that leads them to generally agree what is art, and what is not? Why are humans so dedicated to preserving trillions of dollars of art in the world in peacetime, and yet so permissive in allowing war, historically speaking, to destroy it?

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 21, 2006 4:07 PM
Comment #149946

David:
“Or is beauty in the eye of the beholder? If so, then who is to say what is art, and what is not for society?”

As I said, I believe “What is Art” is always personal.

“Dig deeper, art is not so easily defined. Defining art is like trying to paint one’s own soul with a mirror.”

Yet, it being a personal thing, one always KNOWS true art when one sees it. Of course, the person standing next to you might shrug and say “Well, it’s not my cup of tea…” or “Bleech! Awful, just awful.”

“Without history, can one appreciate art?”

Yes. IMO, making art and appreciating art comes naturally to humans. Take a child to a museum sometime, and rather than study the art, watch the child looking at the art. Sometimes, you’ll see them become riveted and mesmerized by something. Other times, they’ll want to run across the space to stand before something that grabs them in an instant. Appreciation can be as natural as breathing, and no advanced knowledge is needed.

“Or is art a function of history.”

It can be. It often is. But not always.

“Is there a reason most artists don’t become recognized except posthumously?”

:^) There is a question for the ages!

“And if one cannot appreciate art without history, how does going to an art museum help one to appreciate art. Wouldn’t they be better served taking a history class, instead of visiting a gallery or museum of art?”

People would do well to do both, IMO. I mentioned exposure being important. I think that the more someone looks at art, the more their tastes expand and their understanding grows. I think the same is true of studying ANYTHING.

“But, is personal expression of a compulsive nature what defines art, and artistic freedom?”

A strong desire to create usually accompanies true ability and is needed for true mastery, IMO. Yet, anyone can make art — and should. I think it’s good for everybody.

“If one has no choice but to create art, is that expression free?”

The compulsion may not always feel free, but the expression usually is.

“If one is paid, does the work cease to be art, and become craftsmanship?”

No. Art is in the eye and the hands of the beholder. This includes the Artist, the Artisan, and the Craftsman.

All of the above strictly my own opinions. :^)

Posted by: Adrienne at May 21, 2006 4:14 PM
Comment #149954

David:

Lynne, if its pretty, is it art? Is the face of Gwenneth Paltrow or Jurgen Prochnow art? Or is beauty in the eye of the beholder? If so, then who is to say what is art, and what is not for society?

Just because something is “pretty” doesn’t make it art…but if a work of art IS pretty, it doesn’t make it any more or any less a work of art…art is a “work”…that’s why they’re called “works of art”…you might want to consider nature a work of art…a work by a creator…but I believe we’ve been discussing “works of art”…

So, are photographs art??? Especially if they’re pictures of nature??? IT depends…my snapshots taken hastily on vacation of a glorious Grand Canyon may look like art, but I’d be lucky if they did…the art is in the “work” entailed to produce the “work of art”…yet others study light, get up at dawn to catch light highlighting certain aspects of a Grand Canyon scene…these ARE works of art…

There has to be a deliberate work to attempt to create a specific work in order to make it “art”…no matter how beautiful you think Gwyneth Paltrow is, it was an accident of nature, not a specific “work”!

And, on top of it all, you’re confusing “art” with “beauty”…the two are not consistently mutually related in any way.

Posted by: Lynne at May 21, 2006 5:23 PM
Comment #149956

Jack:

“Maybe my title was too provocative or I didn’t make myself clear. I don’t want to take proactive steps to stop anyone making art of almost any kind. What I am rebelling against is the idea that artists are somehow special as a group or that we need to accept or support them. It is not a new idea or my idea particularly.”

I didn’t think you were talking about censoring art, Jack. Actually, though, I do think artists are special and it has been my family’s and my policy that when we run into artists that speak to us in their special way, we try to support them in our limited way.

I was an art director for a small fine arts gallery in Florida years ago and met some fascinating people, several of them I commissioned to do work for me personally. Artists will always have a special place in my pantheon of mensches, because they put up with so much, including ridicule and ignorance of who they are and what they believe in. The family of artists, musicians, graphic artists, sculptors, mixed media, photographers, all have a special language and insight we as human beings can ill-afford to ignore.

I’m a former professional musician myself. I have some wonderful pieces of art in my home that I have never regretted buying, that still speak to me years later. I’m out of the art scene now, don’t really know what’s been going on, but it will always be something that I treasure and honor—the artistic temperment. We can’t live without it.

I wish I could afford to go back to Europe again. Art there is appreciated much more than here in the US.

Posted by: Tim Crow at May 21, 2006 5:26 PM
Comment #149970

was that fellini,That said this About Sophia Loren, the Eyes are wrong, The nose is wrong ,the lips are wrong, the ears are wrong, and that makes everything just Right.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at May 21, 2006 6:24 PM
Comment #149985

Tim, i wish you also could go to europe,i mean that in a good way!.you might be right about art work being more appreciated in europe, than the united states.as i say this, i am looking at all of my mothers old metlox pottery!

Posted by: Rodney Brown at May 21, 2006 8:26 PM
Comment #149991

does fashion design count as art? it seems like they think and i am held captive by what think are the in clothes.

Posted by: lllplus2 at May 21, 2006 9:08 PM
Comment #149999

Lynne, I am not confusing beauty and art. I made no claim whatsoever about their relationship. I questioned if there is one.

A child sits down with crayons with the intent to create something colorful that Mom and Dad will appreciate and give them positive feedback for. Is it art? There was intent, there was effort. It is a work of color in crayon. But, is it art?

Was Henry Ford’s production line a work of art? It was a work, and designed for a purpose.

OK, so nature is not a work of human art. Then what is it about paintings and photographs of nature that make them art? Effort is not a sufficient definition. Amateur photographers constantly compose, balance, and shoot their object through their lens. But, most would agree amateur photos of a sunset or clouds or flowers are not art. At least not worthy of commercial sale as art nor hanging in a gallery anywhere.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 21, 2006 9:45 PM
Comment #150000

Adrienne, if art is in the eye of the beholder, then Jack is right. There should be no public money spent on art, for invariably, most tax payers will not define the works supported by the tax dollars as art, since, as beholders, most would not ever want a Jackson Pollack, or Christ in Urine hanging in their front rooms or, supported by their tax dollars.

But if their is a concensus on what art is, then, there can be public support for art. But if there is a concensus of what art is, what are its definining characteristics? Certainly it has to more than just collectivist poll of what’s attractive. There is also disturbing and very gruesome and hideous works which are considered high art. Mythological paintings such as the god eating half through a human corpse is considered high art and worth a fortune. Nothing beautiful or pretty in it. Why is it art? Why do most people familiar with art recognize it as art?

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 21, 2006 9:51 PM
Comment #150013

Jarandhel

Actually it is a rant against those who want to tell me what I should like and pay for.

The U.S. has a decent arts policy. We allow tax deductions for contributions to the arts. This means the government pays about 25% of the bills, but individuals decide where the money will be spent. I give to PBS. You can too. But nobody should be forced.

J.

Artists can create whatever they want. They have complete freedom. We don’t have to support those we don’t like.

William

Newsgathering responds to market forces and journalists are certainly not exempt from criticism or paid when they don’t write what people wish to read.

David S

There are lots of points of view. I listen to them on this blog and other places. Some I don’t. I don’t have a right to force people to listen to me. Neither do artists.

Elliot

It depends on what you call art. I am with Rocky in a broad definition. Art should be part of life and an experience. The best art gets into museums after it has had meaning in human society and to someone besides the artist himself. Some artists produce “art” the goes directly into museums. This is not what art should be.

Posted by: Jack at May 21, 2006 10:56 PM
Comment #150024

David:
“Adrienne, if art is in the eye of the beholder, then Jack is right. There should be no public money spent on art, for invariably, most tax payers will not define the works supported by the tax dollars as art, since, as beholders, most would not ever want a Jackson Pollack, or Christ in Urine hanging in their front rooms or, supported by their tax dollars.
But if their is a concensus on what art is, then, there can be public support for art.” “

This strikes me as a very narrow way of looking at this subject. That there must be only one definition on what Art is, that it must always be agreed upon by a wide concensus, and that everyone should wish to have it hanging in their homes.
Do you honestly think this way? Or are you just throwing this thought out there to see the response it will bring?

In my view, if across the board concensus became the only measure of what constitutes art (all forms), then this is likely to only reflect what is already fully accepted and appreciated. Such an attitude can leave no room for what is totally new, original and surprising. It is almost a guarantee that flashes of inspiration — or whole movements within art — will be generally neglected and ignored. Indeed, it seems a perfect recipe to intellectually atrophy an entire culture.

“But if there is a concensus of what art is, what are its definining characteristics? Certainly it has to more than just collectivist poll of what’s attractive. There is also disturbing and very gruesome and hideous works which are considered high art. Mythological paintings such as the god eating half through a human corpse is considered high art and worth a fortune. Nothing beautiful or pretty in it. Why is it art? Why do most people familiar with art recognize it as art?”

As I’ve said, I think what is Art should be something that appeals to people on a very personal level — and that all of us should all be able to recognize it for ourselves. In my opinion, too many people (especially in America) are far too afraid to trust their own judgement and taste in Art. Instead, people wait for “experts” to tell them, rather than truthfully and confidently make the decision for themselves. This is why you’ll often see people with nothing but the same old frequently-seen posters and prints in their homes, and find not a single real piece of art that they’ve chosen for themselves hanging on their walls.

That being said, true mastery of art, and art that often gains wide appeal seems to be able to powerfully move peoples emotions in some way, and/or make them think. In fact, I suspect that this is the true underlying purpose of Art (of all kinds) for human beings.
Shapes, and Images, and Colors, and Music and Stories affect our brains and our emotions in very powerful ways, and the Art that has stood the test of time, tends to reach out and speak to a huge number of people on an amazingly deep and subconscious level.
And yet again, I find that it still always comes down to a very personal and individual thing — because if you discuss even a very famous piece of art with someone, they will often say something about it that hadn’t ever occurred to you before. In fact, you may not even agree with their observations, even though you are both in full agreement that it is a great work of Art.
Your thoughts?

Posted by: Adrienne at May 22, 2006 12:51 AM
Comment #150044


The small city near weher I live can’t afford to spend a lot on modern art. But, about twenty years or so ago, the city purchased a piece called the blue cloud for 10 or 15,000 dollars. It is about 7feet tall and 5 feet wide. It is made from a 1/2” thick piece of steel cut to resemble the shape of a cloud and painted blue and white. The city placed it on the side walk on the Roy Rogers Esplanade. If you are walking north or south, you can see it as you approach the intersection. If you are walking east or west, you can’t see it at all. After the third or fourth person walked into it, busted their heads open and sued the city they built a fence around it.

Posted by: jlw at May 22, 2006 3:26 AM
Comment #150049


Jack: That is a tuff one. I think the Empire has the best shape bottom to top. But the Chrysler is very artistic.

Posted by: jlw at May 22, 2006 3:51 AM
Comment #150114
Architecture is a large and public form of art that illustrates this monumentally.

Heh. Good one. :)

I have to agree with Jack. As an artistic type, I can see that alot of the crap pawned off on us as art is pretty bad.

BTW, now that the Great Depression is over, I wouldn’t be averse to either killing off federal subsidies for artists or being a lot more discriminating about what gets funded. Too often, I see my tax dollars spent on crap.

Jack is absolutely right. Artists should work to please their patrons. Art-for-art’s-sake is just another term for “practice”. You do that on your own time.

Posted by: American Pundit at May 22, 2006 10:53 AM
Comment #150121

Jack: “Newsgathering responds to market forces and journalists are certainly not exempt from criticism or paid when they don’t write what people wish to read.”

Very true - yet the fact that news media sometimes publishes the news that nobody wants to hear is the core and essence of why the free press is essential to a democratic society. Likewise, some would argue that there is a societal value to funding art.

Posted by: William Cohen at May 22, 2006 11:09 AM
Comment #150137

AP:
“Jack is absolutely right. Artists should work to please their patrons. Art-for-art’s-sake is just another term for “practice”. You do that on your own time.”

I couldn’t disagree more. What you’re describing is just another way to let those with the most money enslave, and disrespect you. To let them cheat you by allowing those holding the purse strings to dictate to your very essence, soul, and sense of beauty.
If what artists who won’t be dictated to is just “practice”, then so be it. I have no desire to watch anyone (least of all myself) turn what is a rare gift into base prostitution at the whims of others. I’ll take people who demand complete control over their creativity, to those who will pander for money and allow their ideas and vision to be so strictly confined anyday.
It’s one thing if an artist works for a company, and as an employee, agrees to sell off their ideas, but quite another when the focus should be on educating the public and expanding their understanding with a unique piece of art which sells nothing at all, but is meant only to share an artists vision.

If artists like Andy Goldsworthy, are only “practicing” on the public by demanding total control, then I’m all for supporting such selfish “practicing”.

Posted by: Adrienne at May 22, 2006 12:09 PM
Comment #150163

Jack

You’ve taken a topic that really isn’t very important or relevant and are using it to grind your political ax, once again. In this case you are whining (yes, whining) about the tiny sliver of govenment funding that goes to the arts, and trying to make the case that it has corrupted all of what we call “art” these days. Part of this meme is the conservatives’ arch-enemy, the “elites”, a super-powered group of over-educated, insidiously intelligent and influential group of snobs jamming their version of high culture down your and everyone else’s throats. In league with university professors, book readers, and the general liberal conspiracy, they intentionally pervert the standards of art, music, literature, and philosophy. If we could just get the government to stop showering them with meager bits of seed money, it could all be reversed.

The problem with this over-the-top fantasy is that it is cobbled together from anecdotes and impulses designed to appeal to the emotions of the lowest common denominator, another tactic from the Rove playbook. The truth is that both public and private arts funding is decreasing as the economy tanks. This will probably lead to less public art in general, and you can go back to looking at your Thomas Kincade, Painter of Light(tm) paintings. Go peddle your tripe somewhere else.

Adrienne

I love the arts and not only am a member of the local museum and subscriber to the orchestra and the theater, but also contribute additional dollars. However, I don’t think artists have any special dispensation to be paid regardless of whether anyone finds their art worthwhile. Almost all of us must choose between making a living or doing exactly what we want to do, and artists are no different. They are free to eschew the proferred dollars from a particular patron, but they then accept the economic consequences, just as a researcher must research something a patron is willing to pay for or be poor, and a lawyer must argue cases that will be reimbursed or be poor. Many great artists were poor during their lifetimes (e.g., Van Gogh) or died penniless (e.g., Mozart), because no one truly appreciated what they were doing or because it lacked economic viability in that time period. Only the economically dcominant will ever be given total control (e.g., a very successful movie director). The rest of us have to do the dance.

Posted by: Mental Wimp at May 22, 2006 1:16 PM
Comment #150187

Mental Wimp:
“I don’t think artists have any special dispensation to be paid regardless of whether anyone finds their art worthwhile.”

I agree completely. Yet are we to believe there should always be a sweeping and total consensus regarding public art? If so, isn’t it likely that there won’t be anything but the most tame and accessible, or the most cloyingly cute and adorable of Art in public spaces? I reject that. Art at Disneyland may be entertaining, but it doesn’t challenge anyones senses, or make anyone but children truly think.

“Almost all of us must choose between making a living or doing exactly what we want to do, and artists are no different. They are free to eschew the proferred dollars from a particular patron, but they then accept the economic consequences, just as a researcher must research something a patron is willing to pay for or be poor, and a lawyer must argue cases that will be reimbursed or be poor.”

This is true, and you just spelled out the reason why I chose not to make a career in Art. Not only did I escape poverty with that decision, but I neatly avoided having to deal with the many BS political aspects of the art world. That suits me fine. When someone buys one of my paintings, I know it’s because they really like it. This becomes an additional reward to doing the work, and creating only what I choose.

“Many great artists were poor during their lifetimes (e.g., Van Gogh) or died penniless (e.g., Mozart), because no one truly appreciated what they were doing or because it lacked economic viability in that time period. Only the economically dcominant will ever be given total control (e.g., a very successful movie director). The rest of us have to do the dance.”

Or sit out the dance in favor of listening to our own tunes — I fully understand this. Still, it is very often true that artists who refuse to compromise their own visions, end up moving art in new directions, and make the most lasting impressions on both individual people, and on “public consensus”.

Posted by: Adrienne at May 22, 2006 1:57 PM
Comment #150225

Mental

You overestimate me. I don’t think that clearly or deeply.

I am justed pissed off when people try to tell me what art is or is not. This is compounded when they look down on me for not seeing it (or in this case seeing the emperor has no clothes). I can tolerate all this except when they ask me to pay for it or put it up near where I have to go.

Adrienne

I think you mistake self expression with art. We all can express ourselves. Others may not want to be the “expressee”. I met an artist once who did nothing but naked self portraits and portraits of her boy friend’s penis. They were stylized, so you could not tell immediately what they were. Her business, but after the first few viewings, and after the secret is revealed, I would just as soon pass on any more exposure. She wasn’t that attractive, and neither was he (or should we say “his”.)

I express myself by writing all these clever posts. Few people appreciate them for their real brillance. Maybe the NEA should give me some kinda grant so I can open a word shop.

Posted by: Jack at May 22, 2006 3:19 PM
Comment #150240

Jack, are you arguing that a society derives no public, social, nor historical benefit from art, and therefore, should not expend public money on art?

If that is the case, can we not do simple barebones restoration on our public buildings and stop all maintenance on artistic historical statues, buildings, and monuments. The Statue of Liberty cost us a pretty penny a decade ago. Why? It is just a piece of art. Why should tax payers pay to support what other’s consider valuable art?

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 22, 2006 3:44 PM
Comment #150244

Jack:
“I think you mistake self expression with art.”

Whereas you — a person who admits to no artistic talent and calls himself a “philistine” — actually believe those two things are separate. And you feel this gives you the right to tell artists that they should have no control over what they do — because the market should be in command of everything, including their creativity.

Sorry, but that separation is something which this artist personally feels cannot be done. Much as I view “Artistic and Freedom” as two words that dovetail so seamlessly that they actually mean the same thing, so too, do “self expression and art.”

“Maybe the NEA should give me some kinda grant so I can open a word shop.”

Oh, sure. Hey, maybe you could even set it up at Disneyland somewhere between “Small World” and “Toontown”.

Posted by: Adrienne at May 22, 2006 4:03 PM
Comment #150245

Adrienne, you said: “That being said, true mastery of art, and art that often gains wide appeal seems to be able to powerfully move peoples emotions in some way, and/or make them think. In fact, I suspect that this is the true underlying purpose of Art (of all kinds) for human beings.”

You have, in my opinion, come very close to the mark for a working definition of what art is. I have never been able to define Art in a sentence. Art has many purposes, many functions, and many effects, aside from taking on a myriad of forms.

A good deal of art is pedagogic. Religious art for example, teaches new generations the symbols and icons that represent the teachings of the religion. A lot of highly touted art is so, for no other reason than it forced a paradigm shift in how societies view a topic or issue of humanity. Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollack fall into that category. As did Frank Lloyd Wright. They establish new standards and shape future endeavor by viewing form, function, and purpose in a new way. Some other highly touted art makes deep emotional statements like Picasso’s paintings of Spain’s war, or the artistic photos of nuclear explosions, or war photos like the famous execution photo by the General in Viet Nam of the Viet Cong in the middle of the street or the napalmed girl running in the street.

Other art, has nothing more than visceral appeal to basic human appreciation of elements found in nature, color, balance, harmony, rhythm, and composition.

Then there is common art which have temporal appeal, like the art of automobile design. Who considers the Model T or Edsel a work of art today? Or the prints on our sheets, pot holders, and other utilitarian items decorated to appeal to the impulse buyer.

I have come to view art in these two categories. Common art which is designed to sell for money. And high art, which is regarded so for its timeless ability to inform, instruct, or mark historical shifts in the development of human societies or the species. The art of the Rennaissance which transformed Medeival two dimensional flat world art into 3 dimensional representation with movement, light, and rotating round world realism is an example.

I believe High Art should be publicly funded when societies can ill afford to have such important works fall into disrepair or obsurity. I believe public money should never underwrite common art, like automobile design or dining place mats.

It’s not a comprehensive definition nor definitive, but, in general, it works for me.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 22, 2006 4:06 PM
Comment #150253

Adrienne

“And you feel this gives you the right to tell artists that they should have no control over what they do — because the market should be in command of everything, including their creativity.”

Actually the “artists” and I can live together in peace. I don’t have a right to tell the artists they should have no control over what they do and artists don’t have the right to tell me the same. They can make all the art they want, but they should only expect to get paid for it if someone else thinks it is worth paying for.

I would prefer my word shop at Bush Gardens BTW. I like the surrounding better.

The point is that we all have things we like to do. Those things are called fun, or self expression or whatever you want to call them. Other things are called jobs of making a living. If we are lucky, we can have some overlap, but that is not a right.

David

We obviously spend some public money on art and especially monuments. But by defintion these are public expressions and should not be the particular expression of a single artist unless lots of people like it. We have a very diverse country. Somebody, someplace will like most things. If there is an artist whose only love is himself, perhaps he should keep his autoerotic tendencies to himself.

Posted by: Jack at May 22, 2006 4:21 PM
Comment #150266

David:
“It’s not a comprehensive definition nor definitive, but, it in general, it works for me.”

Works for me, too. Well said.

“Then there is common art which have temporal appeal, like the art of automobile design. Who considers the Model T or Edsel a work of art today?”

While it may not be High Art, I’m personally in love with 1964-66 Plymouth Barracuda fastbacks! :^)
Those old, rare Hudson’s are really beautiful too, IMO.

Jack…
Oh forget it.

Posted by: Adrienne at May 22, 2006 4:42 PM
Comment #150393

Jack is arguing against himself. Many of the great artists of history were patronized by their government. Many times, especially in Italy, the ‘church’ would not open its purse strings, but coerced the government into paying. Sometimes the ‘church’ WAS the government. The point being that state sponsorship of art is not a new thing at all.

Posted by: Marysdude at May 22, 2006 10:14 PM
Comment #150416

Marys

It is about accountability. If an artist is just expressing himself, it is his business, not ours either to criticize or support.

I am not making my point well. Let me try this way. Why should we support artists to produce strictly what they want? Nobody else gets that. If I produce a product nobody wants, I cannot demand you buy it because I enjoyed making it. I like to write. If I write things you don’t like, I cannot demand you pay for it because I like to write it. I might be able to make money making products I like, but they may be modified by the desires of others. I might be able to make money writing, but I will have to modify it based on the opinions of others.

You know I grow trees. I would like to just grow them as I want and never have to worry about harvesting them. But nobody will pay me to do that. So I compromise. That is all I ask of artists.

Beyond that, some artists just aren’t good at what they do and probably should be out of the art business

Posted by: Jack at May 22, 2006 11:12 PM
Comment #150421

I think truly great art doesn’t make me think, it makes me feel. Even with literature and poetry, there is the thinking plane, that is inevitably subsumed by feeling.

And music? Music is feeling.

Posted by: Tim Crow at May 22, 2006 11:19 PM
Comment #150476

I enjoy art that makes me feel as well, which is why Jackson Pollack’s work is a great example of something that’s not art. It’s a Rorschach test. It doesn’t make you feel anything that you don’t put into it yourself.

You can argue that the act of randomly splashing paint on a canvas is art — a performance art — but once the act is over, all that’s left is a dirty canvas. At most, you’ve got a souvenir of a performance.

Posted by: American Pundit at May 23, 2006 10:45 AM
Comment #150505

Jack:
“I am not making my point well. Let me try this way. Why should we support artists to produce strictly what they want? Nobody else gets that. If I produce a product nobody wants, I cannot demand you buy it because I enjoyed making it.”

Jack, you’re still not making any point at all. You are acting as though Artists cannot be as professional as anyone else in any other profession. But they are. They have portfolios which they show, and when it comes to public art, they always submit detailed drawings and plans of their vision for these spaces. Even artists who demand complete control over their work have to do this.
Rather than blame Artists for being creative people who naturally are going to have their own unique ideas and visions, you should be blaming the people in charge of choosing those artists to do that work. These are the folks you need to unleash your anger on for the “crap” artworks that can ruin certain spaces, or create an eyesore, or otherwise clunk-up a public space. (And I agree that this can and does happen.)
The real problem is that the people in charge of making these decisions are usually not creative themselves, yet they are the ones whose job it is to choose the artist and the style of art what will fill that space. Additionally, the artist who gets the job, and the style of art that is being ultimately chosen can often have little or nothing do with aesthetics! Instead, who and what is being chosen is frequently done for far more political reasons than you may realize. Is this wrong? Yes, very wrong. And it is ultimately unfair to the taxpayers who pay for these Artworks and must ultimately live with them — but it is common.
Sensitivity, real artistic sensibility, a comprehensive vision for the space, and a sense of responsibility are exactly what is
needed for the people in charge of such selections to have, but the sad truth is, the people who are in charge of these decisions all too often gain THEIR position the same way many of these artists do: politically, by who they know, and through wealthy influence.

Whether you realize this or not, the kind of artists who actually refuse to compromise their visions, are exactly the kind who are able to produce the very best in public art. Because as people, they aren’t so maleable, and would rather not play a lot of political games in order to produce their art. They feel their work should speak for itself, and rather than be constrained, limited, guided, and yes, pestered, by the opinions and directions of many others, they feel people can either take it or leave it. In my view, such artists are showing respect themselves and for their abilities, because this attitude most often accompanies people who are actually talented artists first, and business people who must rub elbows with power and influence, second.

Tim:
“I think truly great art doesn’t make me think, it makes me feel.”

Interesting. For me, great art usually makes me do both.

“Even with literature and poetry, there is the thinking plane, that is inevitably subsumed by feeling.”

Absolutely. I totally agree.

“And music? Music is feeling.”

Yes, intstrumental music is pure feeling.
But music with lyrics can sometimes be as powerful as poetry — which if they’re any good, can start your brain going again! :^)

Posted by: Adrienne at May 23, 2006 12:18 PM
Comment #150688

AP, the fact that you believe Pollacks work is random is telling. It wasn’t random, it was disciplined. Try recreating a Jackson Pollack sometime, you can’t. I know, I have tried.

Pure color and shape dance, at first appearing to be chaos, but, on closer inspection and introspection, one discovers it sings and dances to an order of velocity and angle and constraint of palette all its own. What is it to be an individual in a sea of art? What is it to be an individual in a sea of humanity? Jackson Pollack’s work speaks to those willing to learn the language.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 23, 2006 9:03 PM
Comment #150690

Jack, Jack, Jack, to equate art with commerce is to utterly fail to comprehend the value of art. Did anyone pay the young men in the caves of Altamira? Of course not. It was art for humanity’s sake, not for the sake of greenbacks.

To measure all things in terms of gold was contemplated and elucidated upon most significantly in a novel entitled “A Christmas Carol”.


Posted by: David R. Remer at May 23, 2006 9:08 PM
Comment #150692

Marysdude, no, patronage of artists is not a new thing. Well, not new in terms of the last couple milennia. But for many millenia before patronage, art was art without patronage and for a lot longer than patronage has existed.

But, that brings us to the question argued vehemently from the Rennaisance through the impressionists and beyond. If an artist can find no patron, will the artist still create art? Many artists would answer, if they are a true artist, yes! Otherwise they are hacks. Still good for decent debate, even today. Where are Gaugin and Van Gogh, when you need them?

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 23, 2006 9:14 PM
Comment #150982

If the public voted on what art to support with public money, we would have lots of pictures of cows in fields. Given that, I am not advocating either pictures of cows or nonfunding of public art. Instead, a criteria at least as stringent as is applied for applicates to art schools must be applied which would rule out public funding for coffetable books showing pictures of coffetables.

Posted by: goodkingned at May 24, 2006 4:03 PM
Comment #150987

btw, does everyone know that September 19th is International Talk Like a Pirate Day? I think we should all practice so we will be ready!

Arrgh, matey! Seascapes thats the way with lots of fisheys and wenches.

Posted by: goodkingned at May 24, 2006 4:07 PM
Comment #151077

and a giant Supply Of Rum. then we also could talk like drunken sailors. eh Matey.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at May 24, 2006 9:54 PM
Comment #151080

1969 a body Cuda with a RB 440, 425 hp and a lightweight body, i sure brought fear in the eyes of those chevy and ford guys. and a suspended licence for a year!

Posted by: Rodney Brown at May 24, 2006 10:17 PM
Comment #202745

Few people understand how to look at art. Like being awake, (consciously aware) it is so easy, we miss it.

Art may be studied, of course, but art is more than studying. It is expression.

What is of interest to you, may not interest another.

I always tell people to go to a show, and look,. Leave and see what comes back to you, look again, leave, see again.

Sooner or later, you will realize you are having a dialogue with some art that has engaged you.

It may be fancifull, or harsh, or represent some part of your childhood you’ve forgotten.

It is like this, When you have a haeadache and are given an aspirin, you don’t say, “how does this work?’ You take it and see. Art is really not different. It is a relationship, between you and an artist and work that is co created as you engage it.

Very simple. Not complicated at all. In this all need to control art is lost, it stands alone until engaged.

The more you look at the world, the more all of it engages you.

If it engages a pretention, so be it..fools are born everyday, and so are snobs.

(C) SherryStewart 1993

Posted by: Jerez at January 12, 2007 1:33 AM
Comment #202746

Few people understand how to look at art. Like being awake, (consciously aware) it is so easy, we miss it.

Art may be studied, of course, but art is more than studying. It is expression.

What is of interest to you, may not interest another.

I always tell people to go to a show, and look,. Leave and see what comes back to you, look again, leave, see again.

Sooner or later, you will realize you are having a dialogue with some art that has engaged you.

It may be fancifull, or harsh, or represent some part of your childhood you’ve forgotten.

It is like this, When you have a haeadache and are given an aspirin, you don’t say, “how does this work?’ You take it and see. Art is really not different. It is a relationship, between you and an artist and work that is co created as you engage it.

Very simple. Not complicated at all. In this all need to control art is lost, it stands alone until engaged.

The more you look at the world, the more all of it engages you.

If it engages a pretention, so be it..fools are born everyday, and so are snobs.

(C) SherryStewart 1993

Posted by: Jerez at January 12, 2007 1:43 AM
Comment #281499

Jack, you seem to be confusing art with “what people want”. Creating amusement parks is art only in small portion, what realy counts is knowing what people want, and doing it all over again.
Architecture is art in a way how to connect all the systems in a building so that the people feel good inside. From the outside it should “work” in the enviroment. Brasilia may be a fine example of some fine architectural art, but I think there were some misconceptions (and errs) on the side of the architect about urbanism. (I never been there, just from what I know) But there is always influence by style. I like functionalism. You probably not. But that dosn’t mean everywhere should be grey boxes. Boxes are much more about getting the most money. ;-) (on the other hand, not everything is posible, there is limitation in technology)
At least, artists are not superhumans. Never. They just realize thir visions. If people like it, they live, if not, they starve. But I do believe architects while they are functional. There is a reason why the spend six years on university learning something. ;-)

Me, software engineer. ;-) (so no art at least a mile from here ;-D)

Posted by: moriarty_ at May 11, 2009 11:29 AM
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