Sunday, January 11, 2009

Marginal improvement and ART---NOT ART, a bit more intellectual discussion

Okay, I don't feel as absolutely horrid as yesterday but I certainly don't feel like going out and doing a 50 meter dash either.....not even in my new Doc Martens! That would be a sight. HA!
I perpetually tinker with the ART--NOT ART question. What is art? Who is to judge that? If you have a manager/promoter who is good at what they do--or you yourself fall into that category--selling a *product*, is it still *art*? I am sure all of you have seen some famous name type and you look at the work and say "That really is NOT art, but they're managed well". So they sell a borderline repetitive series and call it art. And we might call it crap.
As I have aged, my views of what art IS and ISN'T have blurred. I have different thoughts now from watching people of all means interacting with what they consider art. This is from craft shows to galleries to standing in the dollar store or other outlet stores and watching people connect with things I think are, well, nominal at best and worse yet, have been printed in China and thrown into a gaudy frame. None the less, someone is connecting with that. Think Velvet Elvis paintings here.....people buy them and proudly display them.

The first image was provided thanks to a fellow blogger, Michael (coffeemessiah), and you really need to click on the photo. The car is covered with stamps. COVERED. So I ask you---is this a form of Art??? Yes? No? Was this just an early form of collage taken to the extreme? Is this Outsider Art? (which I have an affection for...) I have no answer myself; it is one of those rhetorical questions that never seems to leave my brain.
The fine piece below it is mine, therefore, I can make fun of it, and myself. ;) It was a quickly slapped together piece NOT in my usual style, not making any statement, not intended for anything other than to fulfill two small goals:

1. It fits the Theme of "DOG" for the Co-Op meeting on the 21st of the month, that I had absolutely NO inspiration for nor time to do something I wasn't going to use long-term.

2. In some bizarre way, I do connect with this because the image of that silly dog makes me smile. It's one of those little things you hide in your bathroom or elsewhere, so you can see it and get the joke and others (but close friends) don't see it. That dog is ME. All blond and poofy and the shades and pearls and a book.

Is it ART??? I would call it CRAP myself, but fun crap. I don't have deep feeling for the piece, yet there is something that keeps me drawn to it. Maybe because it was produced in the moments of rest between banner work. Maybe because the technique is so NOT ME. (read; anal, laborious, slow, etc etc) Maybe because the colors/papers/stamps I used make it cutesy and trendy, which I really DO NOT DO.
Yes, it uses art supplies and some quality material and yes, it has collage on it, but isn't the man's Stamp-Mobile much MORE art? Or are these little things indulgences and obsessions? That I cannot sit still without something to do. (was that man the same way?) That I have to have projects in the works?
So what about other people who do paint-by-numbers? Where does that fall? In their it art?
As artists, do we need to start having a less elitist attitude and really delve into what art is/can be? To the mental patient finger painting, it is art and therapy. To the underprivileged child with the new box of crayons provided by grant money in a community class, you bet whatever they produce they will consider art. (as will the grantor)
So where is the line???
Feedback, please. And when I feel better, I will be back to my normal rambling posts that have little to do with anything.
See what I have been reduced to??? (sniffle....hack...)



bernadette ostrozovich said...

well, i tried 3 times the other day to post a comment, mostly just to dig myself out of my own bs long enough to tell you to sleep and drink tea. the posts did not go thru only because of my lack of skill, not the site. first of all, bless your dad and all of our dear dads and mums!

art/not art for me, most of the time i don't care, also, as we evolve, it seems that those definitions are in flux as well... i dunno, maybe it's just another flavor of political correctness that keeps us from bulldozing in with a definition and sometimes that is the intelligent way to go, and sometimes i think it's possibly just more stupid refusal to expect excellence. for me, rather than art/not art, or art/craft, i tend to view things as cared about/not cared about. and then that gets crazy, too, ie. is a technically well done piece with no detectable signs of soulfullness or innovation superior/inferior to the loved and heartfelt thing created by a child with a disability??? i think what i mostly feel is that i will leave such pronouncements to the academics (and then, most likely, stubbornly argue against them!)

i get a kick out of the dog! i swear we are twins: the last thing i did bears the title "regarding the peculiarities of she with the monkey heart" (can you guess who "she" is?)

marion said...

Your piece made me smile. Therefore, it provoked an emotion. In my book, that makes it art. Which is, after all, purely in the eye of the beholder.
ps if you don't want it, send it to me!

Jan said...

The reason this is an ongoing topic is because no 2 people have the same opinion. To me almost everything is art that is created from one's soul. Is paint by numbers art? If it is a persons way of expressing their need to be creative, then yes, it is. Other people may not like it, may not consider it art, but that doesn't make it any less so to the person who painstakingly painted in the lines according to someone else's plans and color scheme. If someone is churning out crocheted toilet paper covers then they are expressing their need to create. Who am I to say it isn't art? It isn't my art. I'm sure the majority of people would not consider what I create to be art. Sometimes I doubt it myself. But it is. To me. I'm not saying it is good art, but art nonetheless. P.S. I love the dog.

Nezbine said...

Many years ago in an art appreciation class I learned a definition of art that I find useful:

Ask yourself 3 questions:
1. What was the artist trying to achieve?
2. Did they achieve it?
3. Was it worth doing?

I learned a second definition more recently that has helped me also: Does it look cared for? Maybe Bernadette and I shared that fabulous professor who told me, or he learned it wherever she learned it.

If you want to know what Mr. Hadley (the stamp car guy) was trying to achieve, look here:

I think your dog definitely qualifies, because you made it for yourself and you connect with it. I think Hadley didn't mean for his car to be art, but I'm sure it achieved his goals, and he ended up with art accidentally. So I'd say yes, outsider art.

But those are definitions, and along with those I too use my gut a lot. Do I react to the piece? If I don't think much of it, do I think the artist did feel they'd achieved their goals & connect with the piece? (in that case it usually gets a pass from me).

Then there's the whole fine art debate, and I won't go there.


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