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Stupid for Art
May 22, 2013 8:10 PM   Subscribe

So you’re at a gallery—now what?
The fact is, nobody knows what art is or why people make it. This is blatantly disturbing. Some say the function of art is to generate conversation—an unpleasant thought. I’m not sure we want to put art in the same category as skin disease and Carl Winslow: things to talk about on the internet.
This is why so many of us have a bad time at galleries: we try to make art Interesting when we should just let it be weird. Art should never be Interesting.

The Beholder's Response: How the Brain Responds to Ambiguity in Art
The Role of Origins, Essence and Specialness in Art
Not Gone, But Forgotten: The Hidden World Of Damaged Fine Art
posted by the man of twists and turns (186 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite

 
Smell Me Artist Transforms Body Odor Into Olfactory Self-Portrait

Weird.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:10 PM on May 22, 2013


Exhibit 1 of 47387439374982
posted by lalochezia at 8:12 PM on May 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


I like the second essay in the extended links.
posted by Miko at 8:18 PM on May 22, 2013


Art should be revelatory, passionate. It should hit you like a religion. Nobody wonders what to say at a Francis Bacon or a Carravagio exhibit because the art itself is an object of awe. The problem is art that goes from that to a clever joke.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 8:24 PM on May 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


Everything doesn't have to mean something.
posted by PHINC at 8:25 PM on May 22, 2013 [8 favorites]


Carl Winslow (actually the actor who played him, Reginald VelJohnson), attended the same high school and porn star Ron Jeremy and CIA head George Tenet.
posted by jonmc at 8:31 PM on May 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


What is art?

Uh, you know, like paintings and stuff.

(obscure?)
posted by ELF Radio at 8:31 PM on May 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Everything doesn't have to mean something.

What do you m-

oh
posted by Sebmojo at 8:36 PM on May 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


I don't... is that first essay meant to be humorous? Or not? I couldn't really tell. I thought not, and was getting all bridle-y, but then it's like soooo self-congratulatory, maybe it is?

If it isn't.... I mean god. Telling people how to interpret really shits me up the wall. A few helpful signposts are always welcome, but it should be like driving on a track, perhaps, not a ride in a train car.

And if it was meant to be funny. I dunno, I guess it's successful satire in the sense that I couldn't tell, but it's way too close to the imperious, po-faced instructions people always issue about how to experience art. The self-congratulatory tone grates, and the instructions are no less didactic than any placard.

For me, art is about thinking differently to how I normally think. That could mean any number of things obviously, but I think the liberal definition is important, and the artwork and/or artspace is a catalyst for that shift, but don't preclude it happening outside of those areas, either.
posted by smoke at 8:41 PM on May 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think the point where language starts to break down as a useful tool for communication is the same edge where poetry or art occurs... if you only deal with what is known, you’ll have redundancy; on the other hand, if you only deal with the unknown, you cannot communicate at all. There is always some combination of the two, and it is how they touch each other that makes communication interesting.
—Bruce Nauman


One moment of our 1993 conversation made this especially clear, one during which we both looked at the textured surface of Blue Poles: Number 11, 1952, a painting by Jackson Pollock full of patches, slashes, lines, drippings, and blobs, with barely a hint of blue. “I don’t understand this,” I said. “Yes you do,” Lynch said. “Your eyes are moving.” They must have been, but I had not paid any attention. I had automatically experienced a lack of meaning because I could not stand at the prescribed, controlling viewing distance and read the painting as a rationally controlled system of shapes. Lynch had spontaneously identified the painting as a meaningful representation for me because it had released my moving eye from conventional viewer expectations. I saw that I could not contain the painting in some theoretical framework; he saw me performing with the painting. He saw as crucial that part of me that my education had taught me is inconsequential to my grasp of meaning.
—from The Passion of David Lynch by Martha P. Nochimson


The draftsman and the wall enter a dialogue. The draftsman becomes bored but later through this meaningless activity finds peace or misery. The lines on the wall are the residue of this process. Each line is as important as each other line. All the lines become one thing. The viewer of the lines can see only lines on a wall. They are meaningless. That is art.
—from Catalogue of Pasadena Art Museum Show, Nov. 17, 1970 - Jan. 3, 1971, Sol LeWitt


The subject of the painting is the painting.
—Mark Rothko
posted by shakespeherian at 8:44 PM on May 22, 2013 [42 favorites]


My version is quite similar to smoke's. Art is for thinking. That's not something that needs to be confined.
posted by Miko at 8:47 PM on May 22, 2013


Nah its for feeling. When you bring thought into it you get irony and cleverness and modern art.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 8:48 PM on May 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


When you bring thought into it you get irony and cleverness and modern art.

I'd speak for yourself there. Also, plenty of people like modern art.
posted by Miko at 8:51 PM on May 22, 2013 [12 favorites]


Art is a big tent. It's for a lot of different things, for a lot of different people.
posted by anonymisc at 8:54 PM on May 22, 2013 [9 favorites]


Art should never be *walks away*
posted by LogicalDash at 8:54 PM on May 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


Dancing about architecture.
posted by Foosnark at 8:55 PM on May 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


"When critics disagree, the artist is in accord with himself. We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely.

All art is quite useless."

- Oscar Wilde (from the preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray)
posted by kneecapped at 8:56 PM on May 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


Art is all over.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:04 PM on May 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


When you bring thought into it you get irony and cleverness and modern art

And what is wrong with those three things, pray tell? Art can contain them, I think, without viewing them as a kind of Kryptonite to un-ironic art.

You seem to be conflating irony and cleverness with modern art, and lack thereof with.. modernist, pre-modernist art?

I would suggest that kind of grouping really doesn't reflect the vast diversity and heterogeneity of art - modern or ancient. There is tonnes of modern art - perhaps most - that is unironic, and vice versa for ancient art with winking references and clever textual cheekiness.

I suppose I feel that saying what is not art is just as dictatorial as saying what is. Frankly, I don't mind a bit of cleverness after a dismal show full of unthinking, reflexive and technically poor pieces with no greater awareness.
posted by smoke at 9:06 PM on May 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


The lead essay here appears to have been written by a young person who is not interested in art and rarely goes to art galleries. Uh...
posted by ovvl at 9:09 PM on May 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


And further, I don't necessarily believe we need to buy into a thinking/feeling dichotomy. In the end art is just something people do.
posted by Miko at 9:10 PM on May 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


Art is enthusiastic communicative action performed with the intent that the action itself should be contemplated
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:11 PM on May 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


The fact is, nobody knows what art is or why people make it.

At first I thought this was an opinion, but now I see that it is a fact, so I will withhold my comments.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:11 PM on May 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


Nah its for feeling. When you bring thought into it you get irony and cleverness and modern art.

You do realize all the old paintings were crammed with irony and cleverness too, right? People didn't go about all po-faced and earnest until the Great Dawn of Irony in 1983 or whenever.

To take a well-known example, Manet's Le déjeuner sur l'herbe would have been familiar to contemporaries as, among all the other meanings, referencing the rampant prostitution in the Bois de Boulonge and a painting by Raphael at the same time. Ironic juxtaposition.
posted by winna at 9:13 PM on May 22, 2013 [15 favorites]


The painting in the second link, Masaccio's Holy Trinity, is a great example of how clever artists have been for centuries. And there's nothing wrong with art being purely clever. Think of it as a genre.

So, Masaccio's Holy Trinity. It dates from the 15th century. Masaccio was, of course, trained in concepts like foreground, background, perspective etc. All things that are part of the language of painting (and, really, most two dimensional art).

We all learn words to form sentences, and as our vocabulary increases we can convey more sophisticated ideas. Masaccio used his painting vocabulary -- foreground and background -- to convey how fucking awesome he thought God was.

If you look at the painting God is far in the background, but he's interacting with and holding up the crucifix in the foreground. Why? Because God doesn't give a shit about perspective, he's God.

Masaccio decided omnipotence means being able to defy the rules of painting and perspective. Which doesn't make any logical sense: you can't be in both the foreground and background of a scene.

But, Masaccio asks, who are we to set rules for God? Or to expect him to limit his abilities to concepts we understand? God is bigger than our ability to quantify him in a fresco.

(I say all this as an atheist. If you ask me deities best pay attention to the rules of perspective, but I have to give a lot of respect to Masaccio for using the rules of painting to show how awesome he thought his God was.)
posted by ztdavis at 9:13 PM on May 22, 2013 [10 favorites]


The fact is, nobody knows what art is or why people make it.

But their legacy remains, hewn into the living rock, of Stonehenge
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:14 PM on May 22, 2013 [23 favorites]


I placed third in a recent, company-wide art contest. The winner's piece was a digital photograph that was put through an image mosaic filter and then printed upon a canvas. The piece that won me third place was the one I spent the least amount of time on, and that I thought looked the worst. A friend of mine remarked: "Hi, Welcome to Art"
posted by hellojed at 9:16 PM on May 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


I wish I was cool enough to be bored at art galleries.
posted by b1tr0t at 9:16 PM on May 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


Nah its for feeling. When you bring thought into it you get irony and cleverness and modern art.

This from the guy who claims love for Ulysses?
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:20 PM on May 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


When you bring thought into it you get irony and cleverness and modern art.

oh no cleverness

anything but cleverness

haha jk we are in no danger of that
posted by elizardbits at 9:24 PM on May 22, 2013 [8 favorites]


Ulysses is wonderful. So is contemporary art, though.

What do you guys think of art that is just plain fun?

Like maybe Jonathan Schipper's Slow Room, wherein the contents of a room are slowly pulled into a hole in the wall?
posted by ztdavis at 9:25 PM on May 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


As McLuhan said, Art is what you can get away with..."

I like to think that artists are people who make things for us to encounter that without artists we would never encounter.
posted by njohnson23 at 9:26 PM on May 22, 2013 [3 favorites]



Like maybe Jonathan Schipper's Slow Room, wherein the contents of a room are slowly pulled into a hole in the wall?


that's cool, but its odd how something like that or the performance art thing i saw at the recent 13 Rooms exhibt where somebody is suspended in space, Trinity-from-the-Matrix style, is 'art' when in a gallery but in any other context (like a Transformers movie) its just a magic trick or a special effect or a rube goldberg style ad.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 9:27 PM on May 22, 2013


and don't give me the Duchamp quote i know somebody is going to throw out. that may have had its place, but funny that that survived from dada and not the shamanist poetry of Arp.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 9:28 PM on May 22, 2013


Declarations of what art should be are boring and small minded. Each piece is its own world, travel down the road it leafs you on. You don't have to like it, but you may experience something unique anyway.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:29 PM on May 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think it's okay if it makes you think. I think it's okay if it makes you feel good. I think it's okay if it doesn't make you think or feel anything in particular but just looks damn good on the wall.

I also think it's a little silly to insist that it must do, or can't do, any of the above to be/not be art.
posted by MoonOrb at 9:29 PM on May 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


in any other context (like a Transformers movie) its just a magic trick or a special effect or a rube goldberg style ad.

People who do those jobs often consider themselves artists.
posted by Miko at 9:31 PM on May 22, 2013



People who do those jobs often consider themselves artists.


Exactly. They are artists. But you see something thats taken for granted in a blockbuster movie put in a gallery and suddenly its 'modern art'. its the Lichtenstein Problem all over again.

i owndered recently why artists didn't release art as video games you can wander through
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 9:35 PM on May 22, 2013


I don't... is that first essay meant to be humorous? Or not? I couldn't really tell. I thought not, and was getting all bridle-y, but then it's like soooo self-congratulatory, maybe it is?

If it isn't.... I mean god. Telling people how to interpret really shits me up the wall.


That first piece is written in a weird jokey tone but what he is trying to do there is sell you the reader on the idea of just simply looking at the piece of art for what it is and opening yourself up to it before you start (consciously) interpreting, because it's very easy to rush through an exhibit already having half-analyzed each piece before you look at it and never really seeing what you're looking at.
posted by furiousthought at 9:35 PM on May 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


1. Pronouncement
2. Grander pronouncement
3. ????
4. Now the thread is derailed
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:37 PM on May 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


its the Lichtenstein Problem all over again

is that like the Irish Question
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:41 PM on May 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


You are aware, Charlemagne, that some people consider cinematography art?
posted by gingerest at 9:42 PM on May 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


It should hit you like a religion

Uh oh. Does that make me an artheist?
posted by Hoopo at 9:47 PM on May 22, 2013


You are aware, Charlemagne, that some people consider cinematography art?

That's my point! All those things are already art, but put them in a gallery and people ooo and ahh over ideas that are commonplace in film and games.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 9:49 PM on May 22, 2013


I kind of feel like you're doing that thing again.
posted by MoonOrb at 9:50 PM on May 22, 2013 [12 favorites]


is that like the Irish Question

should we eat babby artists?
posted by elizardbits at 9:54 PM on May 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm rather with Miko. Art is a thing people do because they are people. You can like it or understand it or fight about it or use it to prop up big pronouncements — but honestly it just starts off as a thing people do because they want to.
posted by dame at 9:54 PM on May 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


If you look at the painting God is far in the background, but he's interacting with and holding up the crucifix in the foreground. Why? Because God doesn't give a shit about perspective, he's God.

You sound like you know what you're talking about, so I'm not doubting you, but I don't really see how God is in the far background. His head is actually bigger than Jesus's, and I think I can make out a couple toes hanging over the edge of the thing he's standing on. Care to elaborate on how you can tell he's far in the background?
posted by jessssse at 9:58 PM on May 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Art is a thing people do because they are people.
Birds Do It, Bees Do It: Taking Animals’ Art Skills Seriously
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:02 PM on May 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Art is when someone else's dream sneaks up behind you and whispers in your ear in a language you almost understand.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:08 PM on May 22, 2013 [10 favorites]


Art is... almost understand.
posted by carsonb at 10:24 PM on May 22, 2013


Art is. Understand?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:41 PM on May 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Art can be intimidating when it becomes about making judgements and assessing taste. It's not always easy, but when I walk into a gallery I try to hold off on judging the work/artist/curator/critic and forget that other people might be judging me according to my own judgements. This is not to say that I avoid forming opinions about art, but I think judgement comes later. Looking (or whatever other verb the work facilitates) comes first.
posted by quosimosaur at 10:41 PM on May 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Art should be revelatory, passionate. It should hit you like a religion. Nobody wonders what to say at a Francis Bacon or a Carravagio exhibit because the art itself is an object of awe. The problem is art that goes from that to a clever joke.

You realize that a lot of what strikes people as an object of awe is seen that way because it's in the right context, right? The obvious examples are the shitloads of ancient art that have a greater emotional impact once you know the gist of their context. It's the difference between seeing a man drinking from a cup, and seeing Socrates drinking hemlock, the difference between seeing a stone statue of a man looking at the ground and seeing a reverently made of a statue of a dying Gaul that the Romans copied from a Greek original.

That's not a sign of broken logic, that's how people work. Objects are nothing to us without ways of understanding objects.

But you see something thats taken for granted in a blockbuster movie put in a gallery and suddenly its 'modern art'. its the Lichtenstein Problem all over again.

One of the things art in a gallery does for people is to prime people to see things as art, and therefore worthy of extra consideration they would not have spared before.

Saying "this is bullshit because in another context it would just be an ordinary thing" is a broken way of thinking, because context utterly changes the world to us. Seeing ordinary movements in a dance hall is quite different than seeing ordinary movements on the street during your average day, no music or flaming hoops are needed to make dance appreciation rewarding. All that changes is that the limelight of your attention is better focused by the lens of the theater.

If it works, it works. And it does work. So I guess it works, huh!
posted by tychotesla at 10:51 PM on May 22, 2013 [9 favorites]


My rule of thumb is if you find yourself asking "Yes, but is it art?", it is almost certainly art.

If you find yourself asking "Is it good?", there is a very good chance it is good.

If you find yourself saying "It is not art and it is terrible," there is a better than average chance it is art and it is fantastic.

But with the really great art, you may end up wondering forever.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:15 PM on May 22, 2013 [8 favorites]


Man, I love galleries. I wonder how this guy's been fucking it up — does he not know that at openings, there's free wine? You can get shitfaced on art! Also, he says two hours? Most galleries aren't worth more than half an hour tops. There's a lot of fucking boring art out there, and unless you're in a class and have to, or there's no other art, sitting and thinking "Why does anyone like this?" is a waste of time. Though, seriously, slagging on "interesting" as an opposite to "weird"? What?

Second link is good, though I wish it'd been longer.
posted by klangklangston at 11:29 PM on May 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


When you bring thought into it you get irony and cleverness and modern art.

Just yesterday I saw this work at the Uffizi. Clearly, by giving it the title he did, Bellini meant us to draw some meaning from it; or, to think about it. However, even the gallery signage stated that no one really understands all the symbolism of the painting in full, and save for one or two people, may never have done.

Bellini did that work in the 1490's, well before the dawn of "modern art".

Also, much of the medieval and Renaissance works also are rife with symbolism meant to provoke thought in the viewer; the only reason that you aren't thinking about a Bellini or a Caravaggio or a Botticelli is because you are not a member of the European gentry and this isn't 1513.

However you want to relate to art, and whatever your definition of art, is valid.

___

Personally, my "art appreciation education" consisted of being bored and going out to the living room to flip through my mother's art history books when I was eight. I often think it was just enough - I was exposed to art and learned that there were things I liked and things I didn't, and I wanted to see more; but I was free to appreciate what I saw on its own merits rather than trying to figure out if it meant anything. I still "do" museums in much the same way - I respond to the image first, and will read the museum tag to see the title and if there's some old myth or bible tale or story being presented. And then I just look at it again. I've fallen in love with some modern pieces, some ancient ones, some performance art, some classics...I couldn't tell you what any of it may mean, because that's not why I respond to it. I know I like it when something in me, for whatever reason, says "yes," and that's all that matters.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:34 PM on May 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


I never last long in an art gallery, whether museum or small artist's collective. People pause before each piece like every single one means something special. Meanwhile I'm pausing just long enough to decide if the work catches my interest. If a piece can hold me in place for more than 10 seconds or draw me across the room to gaze at it, it's worth my time and my words.
posted by DisreputableDog at 11:35 PM on May 22, 2013


Black Charlie, Gordon R. Dickson.
posted by maxwelton at 11:39 PM on May 22, 2013


is this good art? I certainly like it.
posted by philip-random at 11:44 PM on May 22, 2013


I never last long in an art gallery

It's the worst way to experience art. Museums are better, because they have a permanent collection, and so you see the same pieces every time you go back, sometimes for years and decades. Best of all is to own the art, to have to live with it, to see it every single day. It's why curators often seem to have such odd tastes in art. They have lived with the stuff in their gallery, and have developed the sort of affections that only happen with time.

I buy a lot of art. The stuff I liked the moment I saw it quickly grew to bore me. The stuff that puzzled me I have really grown to love. But it's the stuff I absolutely hated that has become my treasures.

Take my word for it. If you're in a gallery, and you see a piece of art that causes a visceral, almost moral outrage, check its price, and if you can afford it, buy it. Otherwise, a year later, you will find yourself regretting it. If you do buy it, you will delight in showing it off, and watching your friends respond with bewilderment and anger.

I'm not talking about stuff that is deliberately outrageous, either. You quickly grow used to that. I'm talking about stuff like the blank piece of paper that Tom Friedman supposedly stared at for five years. My god, did that piss me off when I first saw it. Now I think I have been staring at it for five years myself. Or The Middle of the World by Gedi Sibony. I saw somebody step on this one once and the gallery guard nearly had a heart attack, but the patron didn't know it was a piece of art. What a hideous prank to play on a gallery! What a magnificent piece of art.

I know this will sound bonkers to some of you. It is going to seem like an emperor with no clothes, and you are going to feel the need to point it out. Somebody must say something! Somebody must point out that this is all bullshit, that this is nothing but cheap irony and lazy art, and why would anybody fall for this nonsense!

Fortunately, somebody has. Pretty much everybody. Because that's the first impulse when you're challenged. And sometimes it is bullshit. Sometimes there is nothing behind the challenge.

But sometimes there is. Sometimes, you fall in love, months or years later. Sometimes, that awful blank picture that the guys says he stared at and you know that fucker is probably lying becomes the best thing on earth.

It's five since I first saw it and I couldn't be more in love with it. Finally, somebody just hung up a blank sheet and said it was art. And why? Because he looked at it for a long time. And did he? I don't know. I'll never know. Five years? Not possible. But I can't say with absolute certainty that some lunatic didn't actually stare at a goddamn sheet of paper for five years.

It's so goddamn wonderful to think about it I can hardly stand it. Thank you, Tom Friedman. You made a piece of blank paper special. You did something perfect.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:06 AM on May 23, 2013 [44 favorites]


Geez bunny, show a little passion would you?

But seriously, that was great. Also, that's how I feel about wine.
posted by SNACKeR at 12:22 AM on May 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sorry, y'all, but Bunny wins this thread.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:40 AM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bunny's said most of it, and the rest of you have added the rest of it. But still:

People pause before each piece like every single one means something special. Yes. Yes, they do. Just like every poem does. Just like every novel does. Just like every film does. That's how it works.

Whether or not you like them all equally, of course, depends. But they all 'mean', or don't mean, something.

Masaccio was, of course, trained in concepts like foreground, background, perspective etc. All things that are part of the language of painting (and, really, most two dimensional art). It's been a while since I did formal art history, but I suspect that he's one of the people working at the very beginning of all these conventions, just as perspective was being developed and explored, and that's what makes the space so compelling. It works because it doesn't follow the conventions we're familiar with, because he's playing with it.
posted by jrochest at 12:43 AM on May 23, 2013


If you find yourself saying "It is not art and it is terrible," there is a better than average chance it is art and it is fantastic.

This is a widely held criteria, like I know 'Serious Art People' who go by this maxim. "How much did you hate it?" "I really fucking hated it." "Yeah. Awesome, right?" "Yeah."

I always think the problem with the gallery proscenium is that people seem to think the artist and gallerists are smarter and/or 'better' than them. Superior. I worked in a gallery once and it was hilariously similar to the guys I knew at the Plumbing-supplies warehouse a couple years later. The former were better dressed and educated but otherwise it was the same show.

The best thing about galleries is that you are under absolutely no obligation to like or understand the art. You go in, there it is and you like it or you hate it or it leaves you cold. No price for admission, when you're done, you leave. What's not to like?
posted by From Bklyn at 12:45 AM on May 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


I remain unconvinced by Bunny's comment. Is there more to Tom Friedman's stared-at paper than liking something you used to hate because you used to hate it? Because, I'll have you know, I was into being into things before everyone was into them before being into things before everyone was into them was a thing people were into. And let me tell you, nostalgia ain't what it used to be.
posted by Fraxas at 1:05 AM on May 23, 2013


Read the second supplementary link above. It should explain why a lot of artists find the stared at paper appealing and worth loving.
posted by tychotesla at 1:21 AM on May 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Which second supplementary link? In the post or in Bunny's comment?

Bunny, did seeing the blinds on the floor add to your appreciation of the piece or is the fact that the piece exists at all, and was on display at MoMA, enough?

If my reading of the label is correct, that piece is owned by MoMA. Imagine being the guy who, after the show is over, has to put on white gloves and carefully place a section of fucking vertical blinds in storage.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 1:57 AM on May 23, 2013


Or The Middle of the World by Gedi Sibony. I saw somebody step on this one once and the gallery guard nearly had a heart attack, but the patron didn't know it was a piece of art. What a hideous prank to play on a gallery! What a magnificent piece of art.

That's exactly the thing I don't like about much contemporary art, where the art is wholly in the selling of a concept like a stack of bricks, or shit in a can, or those windowblinds to the gallery and all you're left with is something that is art because it's shown in the right context.

It may all seem very clever and ironic, but it's pure wankery, largely because art is completely irrelevant other than as an investment vehicle. Course, it doesn't really differ in that aspect from what art has always been.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:03 AM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is the supplementary link Bunny referred to.

In it, you can see that "1000 Hours of Staring" is but one extreme instance of the sort of work Tom Friedman dabbles in. There are other extremes, but that blank piece of paper might be the most outrageous. And it's outrageous because, in the context of Friedman's other work or even without, he "got away with it". His point was made.

If it didn't work, then there'd be no outrage – and for some people it so utterly doesn't work that they can pass over it without comment. But if it does work, then Friedman has created something which is legitimately interesting, and therefore perhaps legitimately worth our time. And, sad social creatures as we humans are, a piece often "works" if it fails to affect us but successfully affects people that we know. A piece can work without our consent. (The same is true of fast foods and Taylor Swift, and if people have an outraged reaction to either then I consider them successes as well.)

If the ultimate purpose of art is to remind us that we are but a pair of eyes and a tiny computing device amidst an ocean of both consciousness and non-consciousness, then outrage is one of the prime indicators that we have indeed been forced to confront our own boundaries. That, helpless as we may be to stop ourselves, we have been reminded that some value exists in the universe which shocks or disgusts or bothers or frustrates us.

I make an effort to confront the things in life which piss me off the most head-on, until they stop pissing me off. I think I'm a better person for it. Sometimes it is difficult (I failed to finish Twilight), but sometimes it enriches my life in ways I was not immediately prepared to accept. On the whole, I think art both outrages and enriches my life with a greater frequency than the rest of the world's jetsam, so clearly there is something wonderful happening there.
posted by Rory Marinich at 2:11 AM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Imagine being the guy who, after the show is over, has to put on white gloves and carefully place a section of fucking vertical blinds in storage.

It's possible that it's put in the trash and then recreated again as needed. Just as dancers die but the dance remains.
posted by tychotesla at 3:03 AM on May 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


largely because art is completely irrelevant other than as an investment vehicle.

Going to a museum to look at investment vehicles is one of my favourite pastimes.
posted by ersatz at 3:06 AM on May 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


If a piece can hold me in place for more than 10 seconds or draw me across the room to gaze at it, it's worth my time and my words.

Why render judgement after only 10 seconds? I find it hard to trust initial impressions—my own are often incorrect. If you find it boring, I would argue that sometimes boredom is a function of attitude. If you're in a rush, then it's the wrong time to visit a gallery.
posted by quosimosaur at 3:41 AM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Imagine being the guy who, after the show is over, has to put on white gloves and carefully place a section of fucking vertical blinds in storage.

It's possible that it's put in the trash and then recreated again as needed.


Maybe not. I used to live next door to "The Guy Who Made Donald Judd's Plywood Boxes." Basically the guy just happened to run a high-end cabinet shop, but for whatever reason, Judd would only go to him.

There is an actual threshold (which you might not suspect, when looking at a lot of minimalist or 'store-bought object' art) of intention, which, if not attended to, negates the art.

Sol Lewitt's work often played with that. You bought a huge wall painting but really what you got was a sheet with instructions for how to paint it again. Lewitt toyed with this by making the instructions more, or less specific.

Dan Flavin, too, at some point specified exactly what brand and manufacturing run of fluorescent fixtures his pieces had to be 'made' of. (To be obnoxious, I heard, he would sometimes 'forget' to sign the certificate that went with his works. The collector was then left with the 'artifact' but the actual worth, contained in the accompanying documentation, was missing.)
posted by From Bklyn at 3:56 AM on May 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was actually thinking of Flavin when I said that. I seem to remember having a conversation about how a particular fluorescent tube's production line was going to be stopped, and how museums were dealing with that.
posted by tychotesla at 4:01 AM on May 23, 2013


largely because art is completely irrelevant other than as an investment vehicle.

Irrelevant to what? People seem to use "relevant" as a general term of praise now, or perhaps a synonym for "what my friends and I like". It's the highest form of praise for bands - they're relevant!
posted by thelonius at 4:28 AM on May 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Exactly! We don't need relevant - we need timeless. That's why it helps to mostly check out pop culture from at least 40 years in the past, so history can pass some kind of judgement. What current art will survive that? Matthew Barney, maybe. Hirst's shark. Sticker art and graffiti art and paste-ups. Speed Racer. Dark Souls.

None of those things are purely conceptual. You can get the force of Barney's images or a cool bit of graffiti without needing to buy into some typed manifesto. Often the concept cheapens the art, turning the revelatory into the banal.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:49 AM on May 23, 2013


. Is there more to Tom Friedman's stared-at paper than liking something you used to hate because you used to hate it?

Most certainly. People have spoken of intent and of context. The very idea that this piece of paper has been singled out for special attention creates an entirely different context. If it immediately seems bullshit to you, fine. But for some viewers, the fascination that the context develops for them causes them to continue to go back to that piece, in their minds and in physical reality. And in the process of thinking that over, returning to the experience and working to understand it or make sense of it, there is a strong chance that something new will develop in that person. Doesn't really matter what it is - a feeling, an emotion, an anchor, a set of ideas. Art is in the interaction - that's the the reason the second link is the one most worth reading.

Basically the guy just happened to run a high-end cabinet shop, but for whatever reason, Judd would only go to him.

Now that I work around a lot of artists, this is one of the central things that fascinates me: their decisionmaking. These sorts of specifications, decisions, experiments, rules and rubrics, can often seem stupid and arbitrary. Yet when you watch them work, you can see they are responding to whole sets of possibilities, trying some and rejecting them, before making their choices. Some are simple expedients or not that interesting to them. Some decisions require a lot of investment of time and thought - even if the endpoint seems simple and obvious. It's a privilege to watch this process and to realize that even someone like, say Carl Andre is not just some hack who uses everyday stuff to do something easy. Every choice is important. In the end, those choices may no longer be visible, but the results direct my thinking in certain ways.

largely because art is completely irrelevant other than as an investment vehicle

Yeah, that's a silly thing to say. The most disappointing and difficult part of the world of art, to me, isn't ideas or understanding or challenge but the intersection with money. Still, investment is a teeny tiny fraction of what goes on in art.

I wonder how this guy's been fucking it up — does he not know that at openings, there's free wine?

When I was living in Philadelphia, early 20s and totally broke, my friends and I discovered the First Friday Art Walk. All the galleries stayed open 'til 10, and they had free wine and snacks. Since we could barely afford coffee and usually couldn't afford to go out to bars, this was a big night for us. It was like grownup Halloween- stop in a building, get a 1" pour of wine and a handful of goldfish crackers or cheese cubes or grapes, check out some art and move down the street.

It was fun but I still prefer museums to galleries. Gallery openings are fun, but the rest of the time I generally feel sad and ashamed that I am enjoying looking but totally unable to buy anything. Galleries are retail shops, after all. They can skip the educative purpose, the visitor-centered ethos, the contextualization, the programs, the amenities. They are different from museums in the same way that going to a costume show at the Met is different from going to Lord & Taylor to shop for a dress.
posted by Miko at 5:21 AM on May 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


Duchamp fountain has already survived past the 40 year mark. And the 80 year mark.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:04 AM on May 23, 2013


One of the best art experiences I've had in a long time was when we went to the Tate Modern a few years ago. We got off a flight from California, dropped our bags at the hotel, and strolled slowly to the museum. We were delirious with jet lag. I couldn't have come up with an analytical thought if you'd held a gun to my head, and looking at all the things at the Tate Modern, without any of my usual filters available, was wonderful. I didn't love everything, but I was completely incapable of analyzing my own reaction (and then criticizing my own reaction, and then thinking about what other people might be thinking, etc.), so all I could do was look. It wasn't unthinking, exactly, but it was without the usual critique of the art and critique of my own critique and so on down the rabbit hole. I highly recommend it, for those who might appreciate an experience like that.
posted by rtha at 6:13 AM on May 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


I love galleries. I wonder how this guy's been fucking it up — does he not know that at openings, there's free wine?

Klang gets it right. You go to a gallery, you drink some wine, eat some snacks, chat with friends, and look at the art. If you like the art, then you've had food, fun, fellowship, and an exciting aesthetic experience. If you didn't like the art, then you've learned something and still had the food, fun, and fellowship.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:17 AM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just to inject an impressionistic bit of derail, the true high silliness is the conjunction between Art and marketeers. Or perhaps just make that the con of art. The careful curation to create artificial scarcity and bizarre incredible valuation of a few decades old smattering of paint confuses the aesthetic.

If that piece of string nailed by a famous artist to the door jam of that famous collector is valued at thousands, is it the actual image or the actual hype? I've got a whole bucket of cord that I'm happy to sell at a discount, hundreds. For thousands I'll don a tacky scarf and nail it to your door jam personally.

There is some just amazing works being generated by the current generation of artists, if you really like something or hate something and can afford it, buy it, if not, surreptitiously take a photo. I've wanted to visit Musée d'Orsay to see in person Le dejeuner sur l'herbe, but if I wanted to see it every day I'd mount a famous art theft, oh, well no I wouldn't. If you're ever in Boston don't miss the Gardner museum, my actual favorite painting is stolen and the frame is still empty. I don't see why they don't hire a great forger to make a copy, but it wouldn't have been real.

Personally I love, detest, perplexed and am bored to tears by art, as a shout out to Bunny, occasionally by the same piece.
posted by sammyo at 6:35 AM on May 23, 2013


There are a lot of stupid reasons to go to an art gallery, all of which are fun and satisfying for the first five minutes. These reasons mainly involve pretending that you are smart, that you are elevated, passionate, sensitive—in short, lying about yourself.

We all know the blurry, church-like feeling of wandering listlessly through an exhibition, slowly remembering how much you don’t care.

Why does he keep saying "you" and "we" when he really means "I"? Speak for yourself there, buddy.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 6:41 AM on May 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Oh and I sometime wish I could *talk* about are, but actually pretty glad I can't. The inane pretentious drivel describing some of the crap on walls takes it to a conceptual low far far below Old Spock, new Spock erotic fanfic.
posted by sammyo at 6:42 AM on May 23, 2013


If anyone (anyone!) wants a smart read on art, is interested in hearing a multitude of widely varying perspectives on it, and would like to find the sweet spot in valuing conceptual art but rejecting the sometimes-inaccessible-snootiness of the gallery world and all the insane pricing and exclusivity that goes with it, please please please please do yourself a favor and pick up Conversations Before the End of Time by Suzi Gablik, whether you think you know a lot about art or whether you think you know nothing about art. Galik has conversations with cutting-edge artists, conservative curators, gallery owners from times past, artists who have rejected art-as-object entirely, and myraid folks in between. They argue and care a shitton about art and it's all on the page.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:49 AM on May 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


I don't know much about art, but I know what I like.

Extra bonus art litmus test: would I hang that in my rumpus room or not?
posted by mazola at 7:27 AM on May 23, 2013


I don't know much about art, but I know what I like.

*tears hair out, rends garment, gnashes teeth, takes polite exception*
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:31 AM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Most galleries aren't worth more than half an hour tops.

Hm. I sometimes spend more time than that staring at a single painting.
posted by aught at 7:31 AM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Art, Art, blew a fart
And blew the whole damn thing apart.
posted by Kabanos at 7:55 AM on May 23, 2013


Bunny Ultramod: The stuff I liked the moment I saw it quickly grew to bore me. The stuff that puzzled me I have really grown to love. But it's the stuff I absolutely hated that has become my treasures.

Well that makes a lot of sense, thinking about what you said in the thread about Peeping Tom Photos.. I couldn't understand why someone, who has obvious depth and love and for art, and is a seasoned collector, would ever say about those photos:

Transgression aside, I think they're lovely.

My guess, going by your rules, is that if you bought one of these lovely photos (and I have to agree they reek of surface beauty), you would be sick of it in a week. But, who knows, I too have collected a lot of art, and have made a few regrettable mistakes, in both directions, mostly not buying.

Regarding your guidelines, I agree with them wholeheartedly... Iyana Sonnabend said much same thing about art. If, on a studio visit, she immediately liked the work, she would never return to the studio, or show the artist. If she walked away without getting it, was perplexed and did not like the art, she would return to the studio. More than likely, she would give that artist a show. One of the reasons her collection is considered so great is that the pieces that she wound up buying were largely from shows in her own gallery: works that she could not sell to anyone because they were too far ahead of the curve.

Anyway, my two cents, regarding this discussion: it is like the blind men and the elephant story. My two cents about art experience: the blind people are the lucky ones, metaphorically speaking. Being blinded in front of great art is often my experience. Perplexed and confounded, but compelled to search for what I am not seeing....oh, and the parts I do see are not so bad either.

Human expression is a great thing, often. YMMV
posted by snaparapans at 7:59 AM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


My rules for looking at batches of art.

1. First, look at it or listen to it without thinking - just experience it.
2. Think about the technical aspects of the art: what does the choice of medium do for the impact of the piece? How does the way the piece is made contribute to its impact? How does the work create the reaction you felt initially?
3. Think about the intellectual content of the piece. Is it referencing something you've seen before? Is it symbolic? Does it have a relation to other batches of art in the room? How is it the same or different?
4. Most importantly: Read the artist's statement last, if at all. If it doesn't seem to have any relationship to what you have thought about, don't sweat it- it rarely does.

I'd be interested to know how other people do it.
posted by winna at 8:00 AM on May 23, 2013


Being blinded in front of great art is often my experience. Perplexed and confounded, but compelled to search for what I am not seeing....and the part I do see is not so bad either.

This is a fantastic way of explaining it. I think the disconnect comes in when people get angry that they're blind, rather than accept it as part of the experience.
posted by winna at 8:04 AM on May 23, 2013


My guess, going by your rules, is that if you bought one of these lovely photos (and I have to agree they reek of surface beauty), you would be sick of it in a week.

I wouldn't have bought one. I think the composition was nice, almost classical, but by the standards of transgressive art, they were almost retro. The pieces in this vein that I covet are Susan Meiselas' photos from inside a New York sex club (NSFW). Generally, the subjects in this know they are being photographed, but I adore this one.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:18 AM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was about to say that I didn't care that much about the photos until I got to the teevee screens. Those are fantastic.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:23 AM on May 23, 2013


I wouldn't have bought one.

Oh, glad to hear. Apart from the non-transgressiveness.. too much treacle for me.

Pandora's Box, Security TV III. (the next one in the Magnum link) and the one you like would make a nice pair.. lol..

I never was a fan of Susan Meiselas.. but these are the best work of hers I have seen.
More interesting than Nan Golden, post '91... But her slideshow (Ballad of Sexual Dependency) still makes me cry.
posted by snaparapans at 8:35 AM on May 23, 2013


I never was a fan of Susan Meiselas.. but these are the best work of hers I have seen.

I'm also crazy about her collection Carnival Strippers. But I agree about Nan Golden. Her work is exceptional. I saw Ballad of Sexual Dependency a few years ago and couldn't look away.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:43 AM on May 23, 2013


>>>My rules for looking at batches of art.

1. First, look at it or listen to it without thinking - just experience it.


My favorite history of art teacher had slides of the art projected large scale on the wall. Then the he would ask us what we thought about the images. Then he yelled at us for just sitting there as we talked and demanded that we go up an view the art, to better experience and examine it. He was very methodical in getting into the frame of mind of actually looking at the art and realizing what those visuals made us think or feel. "That's art" he said, "that's it, there's not great mystery. Just look and learn about what you think and feel. It's fine if it doesn't affect you or you don't like a classical work. But you should be able to articulate why it doesn't work for you and realize how it would work for others, particularly people of the time and culture in which it was created"

Damn fine teacher.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:45 AM on May 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Carnival Strippers. I particularly liked the sound track..

The reason I mentioned '91 for Nan, as a rule her work, prior to 1990-1, was a diary of her experience, and had a visceral honesty that the later work does not have. After '91, she was more like Meiselas... documenting other peoples lives, more voyeuristic, more commercial. Like many artists, Golden, imo, was making work that mimicked her early work, IOW she was re-making Nan Goldens. Much weaker, and a lot less honest, imo.... but with Matthew Marks, a great business decision.

But, honestly, had she continued her earlier project, she likely would be dead. That is not to say she did not have other options, other than the direction she went. But, making art that is so personal, is hard, maybe too hard as one grows older.
posted by snaparapans at 9:02 AM on May 23, 2013


ztdavis:
But, Masaccio asks, who are we to set rules for God art? Or to expect him it to limit his its abilities to concepts we understand? God Art is bigger than our ability to quantify him it in a fresco.

Could it be that's what Masaccio was trying to communicate all along?
posted by rocket88 at 9:39 AM on May 23, 2013


Damn fine teacher.

Except for the way he'd completely lose it if you spelled Renaissance wrong.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:11 AM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


There is an actual threshold (which you might not suspect, when looking at a lot of minimalist or 'store-bought object' art) of intention, which, if not attended to, negates the art.

But I call bullshit on this. How is it any different than Van Halen and the demand that there no be no brown M+Ms allowed in their dressing room? How could such have any impact on the audience's perception/experience of the "art" in question? This, for me, is the vanishing point where any kind of artistic endeavor disappears down the rabbit hole of its own self-importance, the infantile obsessing on shit that will have NO impact on the actual work, but which the artist engages in mainly because he/she can (ie: they have the power to make the demand). And yeah, it does make work for someone, which on one level is cool. Nice to make work for a dedicated cabinet maker, I guess. But the poor guy plucking the brown M+Ms? He's just being fucked with. As is whoever's footing the bill for the high-end cabinet maker.

As I recall, David Lee Roth's defense for the brown M+Ms was that it was basically a litmus test. If he walked into a dressing room and saw brown, he'd know that the promoter was probably going all cheap on other aspects of the rider as well, including truly important stuff like sound and lighting gear. And thus, a little rampage and property damage was required to "send a message." How enlightened Mr. Roth! How very Attila The Hun of you!
posted by philip-random at 10:16 AM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I used to have very strong opinions re: what is art v. not art, what is good art v. bad art, et al aesthetic.

Like a lot of philosophy, the more I read (especially Hume, Kant, Goodman, Croce, Dewey, Heidegger, Hegel, Wittgenstein, Danto, Adorno, Deleuze, Guittari, Goehr), the less and less I had any sort of well-formed thoughts about it.

You reach a point where you aren't sure whether you ought to be sleeping on your bed at night or opening that can of soup or whether you ought to just watch the match burn instead of lighting the candle with it. Thinking about art a lot can make one very anxious.

In a lot of ways, aesthetics kills art. There's a reason they say that people who do aesthetics are either bad philosophers with artistic inclinations or bad artists with philosophical inclinations. The if you have to ask you'll never know theory. It's why when artists try to write about art it always sucks (looking at you Tolstoy et al).

I am trying to undo a lot of the thinking I've done. I would love to get back to feeling about Beethoven the way I once did, unburdened, passionate, excited. Not hermeneutic or philosophical or contemplating the perception and why this and that. Just that awestruck sense of an invisible expanding universe for 45 minutes.

1. First, look at it or listen to it without thinking - just experience it.

Philosophy student me would have cringed at that. But now I actually think that's about right.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:43 AM on May 23, 2013


It's why when artists try to write about art it always sucks (looking at you Tolstoy et al).

I didn't mind half of what Tolstoy was on about -- as long as he kept it to artistic intention, the reasons an artist had for doing what he was doing (ie: reaching as many people as possible without diminishing his "message" in the process). What Tolstoy utterly sucked at was being a critic. If he didn't "get" something, it was crap. Which is what I love about what Bunny U had to say much earlier -- how valuable it can be to take active hatred of a work as a leaping off point toward engaging it with, dancing with it ...

Tolstoy would've hated punk rock in 1976. Someone operating from Bunny's perspective would've recognized the revulsion they were feeling as a magnetic force ... and gone with it.

Bunny Tolstoy. Now there's a band name ... or maybe a Bubble Tea outlet.
posted by philip-random at 10:53 AM on May 23, 2013


War and Peace and Carrot Cake
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:03 AM on May 23, 2013


Pride and Prejudice and Pie
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:06 AM on May 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I didn't mind half of what Tolstoy was on about -- as long as he kept it to artistic intention

Yeah, that's a good point. I actually really like reading about artists talking about their art, why they did what they did, etc. It's things like Tolstoy's "What is Art" where he gets on about truth and goodness and such that I sort of check-out.

Banana Karenina ?
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:08 AM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Donut of Ivan Ilyich
posted by elizardbits at 11:27 AM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Eugene Onegingerbread
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:35 AM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I realize we've moved on to the joke portion of the thread, but!

I am a formally uneducated adult, and currently possess a middle school or lower level of understanding of any/all topics with the singular exception of English grammar and usage. Fortunately, I have also been lucky enough to travel all over the world, and the very first thing I do in any new-to-me city is go to the art museum. I'm talking fresh-off-the-plane-train-or-automobile, immediate #1 destination. It might be because I live in a city with an AWESOME art museum that I can easily bike to and then get in free because I have a membership, but there has always been something immensely magnetic and compelling about galleries and museums even though I've never understood "art" per se. Attempting to do so has always made me feel especially... well, stupid.

But hey, the author of the first article summed up something I've spent decades trying to capture in one beautiful sentence!

"The real reason to go to an art gallery is to witness a small number of people elaborate publicly on their own confused striving, beyond explanation or accountability or compromise."

YES.

I recently took a college-level MOOC on art history and my mind all but exploded. I am now rather unhealthily obsessed with work produced by the Flemish Primitives during the mid-15th century/Northern Renaissance era (omg, van Eyck, omfg), as well as the work of the early 19th century Spanish romantics. My next solo backpacking adventure will be to Madrid so I can hit up Museo del Prado and Reina Sofia and Thyssen-Bornemisza and Lázaro Galdiano and marvel for days. El Greco! Goya! Velázquez! "Guernica," IRL! Even as a complete philistine, the very thought of it makes my heart sing. Thanks for the FPP.
posted by divined by radio at 11:37 AM on May 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


My next solo backpacking adventure will be to Madrid so I can hit up Museo del Prado and Reina Sofia and Thyssen-Bornemisza and Lázaro Galdiano and marvel for days. El Greco! Goya! Velázquez! "Guernica," IRL! Even as a complete philistine, the very thought of it makes my heart sing. Thanks for the FPP.

Oh man, you are in for a treat. Have fun.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:39 AM on May 23, 2013


It seems people often feel embarrassed, inadequate, or defensive when they're not engaged by a piece of artwork. That shouldn't be the case. It's okay if something doesn't talk to you, or if you don't like it. If you end up coming back to it later, great, if not keep an open mind and investigate the things that do draw you in. There's no need to get upset about it, or worse, try to convince others who actually *are* engaged that something's not worth their interest and energy.

Art doesn't exist to be an affront to anyone's intelligence or sophistication. It's okay to not like something.
posted by sevensixfive at 11:44 AM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Art doesn't exist to be an affront to anyone's intelligence or sophistication. It's okay to not like something.

Are must be genuine. No matter how oblique, ugly, confusing, transgressive -- as long as it's genuine (and only the artist knows whether this is so), it stands as its own justification.

My issue with much of what passes as modern or current or contemporary or conceptual (or whatever you want to call it) art is that it's not genuine. Not that I can prove it (except for a few occasions where artists have confided as much to me), but I sure get suspicious often. But, of course, that's the big problem with modern or current or contemporary or conceptual (or whatever you want to call it) art -- so much of it treads such a fine line between genuine genius and bullshit.

Here's to the genuine ... even if I end up missing it.
posted by philip-random at 11:55 AM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


divined by radio, if you can get to Barcelona (and you should), go to the Picasso museum. My mind, she was blown, and in ways I had not remotely expected.
posted by rtha at 11:56 AM on May 23, 2013


Art must be genuine.

Why?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:01 PM on May 23, 2013


Ar[t] must be genuine.

What does this even mean?

(That's not a rhetorical question, by the way. I would "genuinely" like you to define your terms. The only way I can parse that assertion in a way that makes sense is genuine-as-in-exists as opposed to not-genuine-as-in-imaginary, and even that is problematic.)
posted by dersins at 12:10 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Crime and Scones and Punishment
posted by furiousthought at 12:12 PM on May 23, 2013


Scones from the Underground
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:29 PM on May 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Brothers Carrot Cake
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:30 PM on May 23, 2013


I'm sure there's a bar somewhere called The Master and Margaritas
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:31 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bread Souls
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:45 PM on May 23, 2013


Dead Rolls
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:45 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Scones from the Underground

GOD DAMN IT
posted by furiousthought at 12:52 PM on May 23, 2013


*tears hair out, rends garment, gnashes teeth, takes polite exception*

Take that feeling, and make it your treasure.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 12:59 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Duchamp fountain has already survived past the 40 year mark. And the 80 year mark.

Oh, you reminded me of something I saw at the Whitney once and loved - a series of works by one artist, who flat-out copied a handful of some of Duchamp's works - not any of the obvious readymades, things that had a BIT more work to them - but she didn't reference Duchamp at all in her title, she just said they were all ''Untitled'' by herself. I like to think that somewhere, Duchamp was sitting there and grinning and saying, ''Yeah, she gets it.''
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:04 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I know what you mean, but I hope Duchamp would have a better relationship to art than just to think it's a thing defined by his own terms 100 years ago.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:18 PM on May 23, 2013


ztdavis: Ulysses is wonderful. So is contemporary art, though.

What do you guys think of art that is just plain fun?

Like maybe Jonathan Schipper's Slow Room, wherein the contents of a room are slowly pulled into a hole in the wall?
I am now completely in love with Jonathan Schipper, and prior to your comment had not heard of him.

Thank you.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:19 PM on May 23, 2013


EmpressCallipygos something I saw at the Whitney once and loved
Could it be Sherrie Levine's Meltdown series after Duchamp?

She did lots of copies of male artists, Walker Evans, Atget, Rodochenko, Elliot Porter, Edward Weston, Degas, Mondiran, Van Gough, Leger, Miro, Matisse, Klee, etc... and the famous Duchamp Fountain in bronze.

She also produced a lot other work, tricycle, pool tables, mirrors, plywood with gold knots, etc. She is conceptual artist who uses appropriation.
posted by snaparapans at 1:28 PM on May 23, 2013


Art must be genuine.

Why?


Because it's ingenuous to fuck with people, waste their time.

If you put a frame around a blank piece of paper and stick it on the wall and call it art because you profoundly believe it so (or profoundly believe that you're making a necessary a comment on the nature of art and audience and history and ... whatever, then thank you for advancing the cultural discussion). But if you're just doing it to take the piss (or perhaps collect a grant), then to hell with you.

The problem, of course, is that what makes it/doesn't make it genuine is a secret that only the artist is in on. And often, I guess they're not really clear themselves (drugs, alcohol, heartbreak etc). But even that's okay. Sometimes all we've got that's genuine is our confusion. I believe Jack Kerouac said something like that.
posted by philip-random at 1:30 PM on May 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


There is an actual threshold (which you might not suspect, when looking at a lot of minimalist or 'store-bought object' art) of intention, which, if not attended to, negates the art.

But I call bullshit on this. How is it any different than Van Halen...


It's not bullshit though. There are very significant and well thought-out rationales behind every single decision that makes up an art-work - if not, if it is not true to the conditions it has itself set up, then you can throw it out. I'm mostly talking about minimalist and/or works that take 'objects' off the shelf and incorporate them in the above. (Once a thing is made by hand, it becomes a different thing altogether. But also, notably, there are painter's assistants (and this is no new thing) who are beloved by the painters they work for because of some particular quality of the work they do. A really great book called The American Painter Emma Dial goes into just this/these topics in a way that's really well understood.)

(The people who fabricate art-works are, in the fabrication process, their own kind of finicky, hyper-perfectionist. There's great release in that because suddenly there is someone (the artist) there who appreciates that you, the cabinet maker, have laid on your own veneer over the perfectly fine plywood because then you could book-match the corner - which, really, introduces a level of workmanship that the work does not expect, but is appreciated.)
posted by From Bklyn at 1:32 PM on May 23, 2013


The problem, of course, is that what makes it/doesn't make it genuine is a secret that only the artist is in on.

Are you positing that the quality 'art' is located wholly within the artist?
posted by shakespeherian at 1:33 PM on May 23, 2013


Could it be Sherrie Levine's Meltdown series after Duchamp?

From that description, no - it wasnt an analysis of the colors used in each one, it was an exact copy. Like, in Duchamps original, say he took 50 burlap sacks, filled each one with precisely 10 pounds of coal, and hung them all from a ceiling. She also took 50 sacks made of the same kind of burlap, filled each one with precisely 10 pounds of the same kind of coal, and hung them from the ceiling in precisely the same way - and said it was an original untitled work by her.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:34 PM on May 23, 2013


My issue with much of what passes as modern or current or contemporary or conceptual (or whatever you want to call it) art is that it's not genuine. Not that I can prove it (except for a few occasions where artists have confided as much to me), but I sure get suspicious often. But, of course, that's the big problem with modern or current or contemporary or conceptual (or whatever you want to call it) art -- so much of it treads such a fine line between genuine genius and bullshit.

Why generalize about a whole category of stuff here? And why bother getting "suspicious"? Isn't it enough to say "I don't like these things that I don't like", and move on?

I find some contemporary art to have a quality that I'd recognize as "genuine", and other contemporary art, I might argue, is lacking that quality. But in order to talk more usefully about it, I'd have to reference specific work, like pieces from Ai Weiwei, or Tomas Saraceno. I couldn't make any broad statements about conceptual or contemporary art in general. Why the need to denounce contemporary art as a fraud?
posted by sevensixfive at 1:36 PM on May 23, 2013


EmpressCallipygos : Well Sherrie Levine mostly exact copies.. Her Walker Evans work, Miro etc, are exact copies... Not sure what else she did of Duchamp.. but it was likely her work, you saw at the Whitney (PDF).
posted by snaparapans at 1:43 PM on May 23, 2013


It's why when artists try to write about art it always sucks (looking at you Tolstoy et al).

How about Jorge Luis Borges? His critical writings are quite enjoyable.
posted by ersatz at 1:46 PM on May 23, 2013


I just stumbled upon this classic piece on Tumblr and it is super appropriate for this thread. Ad Reinhardt on How To Look. "You, sir, are a space, too."
posted by furiousthought at 1:49 PM on May 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Are you positing that the quality 'art' is located wholly within the artist?

No. But I guess I am saying that unless the artist proceeds with genuine intention, that the final "work" isn't genuine. It's still up to the beholder to decide for themselves whether it's of quality or not.

Why generalize about a whole category of stuff here? And why bother getting "suspicious"? Isn't it enough to say "I don't like these things that I don't like", and move on?

I didn't intend to generalize about a whole category of stuff. Indeed, I did say "much of what passes for", not "all". As for getting suspicious, why wouldn't I when something is tweaking my bullshit detectors? That's what conversation is. Somebody states something. You listen to them, think about it, and then respond if you feel its relevant.

When Duchamp put that toilet in the gallery, the appropriate response wasn't to just shrug and move on. It was to either "get it" (and maybe have a laugh) or to ask questions, perhaps call bullshit. Which itself would have led to more discussion etc.

Why the need to denounce contemporary art as a fraud?

A fraud should be denounced, no? I'm not saying anywhere that all contemporary art is a fraud. But my experience is that there is a lot of bullshit in that world and thus, I comment.
posted by philip-random at 1:52 PM on May 23, 2013


My experience is that there is a lot of fantastic shit in that world, and thus, I comment.
posted by sevensixfive at 1:58 PM on May 23, 2013


I didn't intend to generalize about a whole category of stuff. Indeed, I did say "much of what passes for", not "all".

How much art do you think gets made each year? Do you see enough of it to justify that "much of"?
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:58 PM on May 23, 2013


and a recent quote from Richard Serra, is (paraphrased) that in the 60-70's if your work sold well in a show you were considered a failure by other artists. That represents a 180º shift from today's metric of success in the art world.

Of course it is funny (ironic) to hear that coming from Serra. His standards have changed with the times too.. I guess...
posted by snaparapans at 1:59 PM on May 23, 2013


Regarding some of the question raised... from the horses mouth (or one of them): I try to make art which celebrates doubt and uncertainty. Which provokes answers but doesn’t give them. Which withholds absolute meaning by incorporating parasite meanings. Which suspends meaning while perpetually dispatching you toward interpretation, urging you beyond dogmatism, beyond doctrine, beyond ideology, beyond authority.–Sherrie Levine

and she is old fashioned.. lol
posted by snaparapans at 2:08 PM on May 23, 2013


How much art do you think gets made each year? Do you see enough of it to justify that "much of"?

I'd justify it if I could quantify it, "much of" being pretty useless in that regard. It could mean "almost all". It might also mean "a fair bit" which itself could either mean "most" or merely more than just a "little bit".

So here I plead guilty to vagueness and thus recompose my initial statement to ...

My issue with a not insignificant portion (maybe even most, definitely not all) of what I see getting passed off as modern or current or contemporary or conceptual (or whatever you want to call it) art, is that it just doesn't feel genuine. I feel I'm being fucked with. Which is cool if the intention is get me thinking outside of the box I'm currently in, expanding my consciousness. But it's very uncool if it's just to take the piss, or like I said before, justify the grant money.

Bottom line: only the artist really knows, so shame where it's due.
posted by philip-random at 2:09 PM on May 23, 2013


"In a lot of ways, aesthetics kills art. There's a reason they say that people who do aesthetics are either bad philosophers with artistic inclinations or bad artists with philosophical inclinations. The if you have to ask you'll never know theory. It's why when artists try to write about art it always sucks (looking at you Tolstoy et al). "

I took a class on the philosophy of aesthetics, and it was actually pretty solid. The thing is, much like literary criticism or even just the philosophy of science, the underlying focus moves faster than the philosophy reacting to it. Tolstoy comes off as full of shit because we've seen art move so much further than where it was when he was seeing it that of course his objections are weak sauce.

"No. But I guess I am saying that unless the artist proceeds with genuine intention, that the final "work" isn't genuine. It's still up to the beholder to decide for themselves whether it's of quality or not."

One of the best parts of the second link was pointing out that how a viewer resolves ambiguity in a work is probably almost as important as the artist's intentions. And this is especially true since there's no real way to know the "authentic" intentions in an ambiguous piece of art. It's one of the reasons that rockism fails — "authenticity" is a total canard.
posted by klangklangston at 2:09 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Art takes a lot of time and effort, nobody I know makes it just to fuck with people, they do it because they feel they have to get something out, have to make something. And nobody I know is getting rich with it. Grant money? Doesn't exist. Try winning the lottery instead.

Think more like music - there's a ton of people doing it because they feel passionate and compelled, nobody does it unless it's really important to them, and there's a really small percentage, maybe .00001% who are lucky and talented enough to swing it for a living full time.
posted by sevensixfive at 2:14 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


philip-random: Regarding artistic intent, read "Pierre Menard, Author of Don Quixote" twice and call me in the morning.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 2:16 PM on May 23, 2013


and there's a really small percentage, maybe .00001% who are lucky and talented enough to swing it for a living full time.

and as with music, many who do manage to make a living do so by pandering, playing more to notions of what the market wants than the demands of "the stuff" itself.

It occurs to me that I'm channeling my inner Tolstoy here: calling into question what the artist is intending and yes, insisting that intention is an essential part of what makes for good/great art. But hopefully I'm not going too far, as I believe he did, calling everything I don't understand crap. Because I can't pretend to know any artist's intention, unless he/she tells me ... and even then they might be bullshitting.
posted by philip-random at 2:27 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Rustic Etruscan -- I'm not that fast a reader.
posted by philip-random at 2:27 PM on May 23, 2013


philip-random: Art doesn't exist to be an affront to anyone's intelligence or sophistication. It's okay to not like something.

Are must be genuine. No matter how oblique, ugly, confusing, transgressive -- as long as it's genuine (and only the artist knows whether this is so), it stands as its own justification.

My issue with much of what passes as modern or current or contemporary or conceptual (or whatever you want to call it) art is that it's not genuine. Not that I can prove it (except for a few occasions where artists have confided as much to me), but I sure get suspicious often. But, of course, that's the big problem with modern or current or contemporary or conceptual (or whatever you want to call it) art -- so much of it treads such a fine line between genuine genius and bullshit.
Now... Do you actually have a coherent definition for what "genuine" means to you in this context, or have you just created a wordy "No True Scotsman"? Regardless, you haven't really said anything meaningful here until you've defined this enigmatic term.
...as long as it's genuine (and only the artist knows whether this is so)...
So, the art created by zoo animals definitely is or is not art, by this definition? (per the man of twists and turns link)
posted by IAmBroom at 3:10 PM on May 23, 2013


Because it's ingenuous to fuck with people, waste their time.

I don't think this is what you meant to say, but, in the context of art, I agree with you. I think fucking with people is a perfectly valid thing to do in the arts, and, when done well, I don't know that it is a waste of their time.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:23 PM on May 23, 2013


So, the art created by zoo animals definitely is or is not art, by this definition? (per the man of twists and turns link)

I own several pieces of art created by zoo animals. Is it art? I dunno. It has a place of pride in my collection, though, and hangs next to a Warhol and a Calder, and they don't seem to mind.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:26 PM on May 23, 2013


Are must be genuine. No matter how oblique, ugly, confusing, transgressive -- as long as it's genuine (and only the artist knows whether this is so), it stands as its own justification.

An exchange in Pagnol's Jean de Florette forever bars me from embracing the idea of genuine or authentic things. I can't find it online, but the main character moves to rural Provence and is rhapsodizing to a peasant about how wonderful it is, how Authentic! Meanwhile, the peasant is wondering what the hell an authentic is, and how one hunts it. I don't know if Pagnol meant to shatter the whole idea of a search for authenticity, but that did it for me.

I should go dig out the book and post the bit.
posted by winna at 3:41 PM on May 23, 2013


the main character moves to rural Provence and is rhapsodizing to a peasant about how wonderful it is, how Authentic!

See also: Lonely Planet
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:45 PM on May 23, 2013


Art must be genuine.

Why?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:01 AM on May 24
[+] [!]


Because life is too short to try and engage with work that isn't trying to emotionally engage with you but instead is trying to make some clever point or just fuck around.

I've been to art exhibits where the 'art' is trying for that and its an ugly, alienating experience.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 3:51 PM on May 23, 2013


Good thing none of that is thoroughly subjective.
posted by rtha at 4:14 PM on May 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Because life is too short to try and engage with work that isn't trying to emotionally engage with you but instead is trying to make some clever point or just fuck around.

Why?
posted by shakespeherian at 4:26 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, if your criteria for art is that it must be "emotionally engaging," then why isn't cleverness or ugliness or alienation a valid way to engage a viewer emotionally?
posted by octobersurprise at 4:32 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Because life is too short to try and engage with work that isn't trying to emotionally engage with you but instead is trying to make some clever point or just fuck around.

I think it is too short not to. But to each their own. If your preference if for art which has as its primary focus to create some sort of emotional connection with you, that's entirely your prerogative. Leaves out an awful lot of terrific art, but we commit our time to the things we think are worthwhile, and nobody says you have to look at art you don't find meaningful.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 4:33 PM on May 23, 2013


If getting fucked with doesn't engage you emotionally, you are pretty stoic.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:33 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]



Yeah, if your criteria for art is that it must be "emotionally engaging," then why isn't cleverness or ugliness or alienation a valid way to engage a viewer emotionally?


I never said anyting bad about 'ugliness' or 'alientation'. I love those qualities in art. My problem is with 'cleverness', the empty art school joking that people dig.

Like... I spent half a semester in a fine arts college. I ran out of time for an assignment, so I stuck the phrase 'Tom Waits for No Man' on a piece of posterboard with tape. I got a good grade on it. I went to an exhibit at the MCA and saw things like a bean bag chair - made out of concrete! Wow!

I'm not saying there isn't good modern art, but the idea that a concept is enough or that you can subsitute some facile joke for real pain and engagment is pretty bullshit.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:35 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


As for the actual topic, when I go to an art exhibit I usually walk slowly to each painting or work and spend at least 5 minutes but hopefully more in front of each work. I try and engage with the work fully, and then read whatever explanation is next to it. I avoid talking until after I'm finished with the exhibit. I try and put myself in a state of contemplation, where I get the full effect of whatver the painting or sculpture is trying to show me. At the Francis Bacon exhibit it was so overwhelmig I actually got a bit woozy.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:36 PM on May 23, 2013


"My problem is with 'cleverness', the empty art school joking that people dig."

Why?

"Like... I spent half a semester in a fine arts college. I ran out of time for an assignment, so I stuck the phrase 'Tom Waits for No Man' on a piece of posterboard with tape. I got a good grade on it. I went to an exhibit at the MCA and saw things like a bean bag chair - made out of concrete! Wow!"

Yeah, student work is often bullshit. Sorry your teacher wasn't hard enough on you, they probably realized that you'd peter out on your own.

"I'm not saying there isn't good modern art, but the idea that a concept is enough or that you can subsitute some facile joke for real pain and engagment is pretty bullshit."

Again, you're assuming your conclusions. And maybe the problem is that you resent being around art made by people more clever than you?
posted by klangklangston at 4:38 PM on May 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Because it's ingenuous to fuck with people, waste their time.

I don't think this is what you meant to say, but, in the context of art, I agree with you. I think fucking with people is a perfectly valid thing to do in the arts, and, when done well, I don't know that it is a waste of their time.


Yes, there's a DIS missing there before the ingenuous. As for the fucking with, I believe I already put it as thus:

it just doesn't feel genuine. I feel I'm being fucked with. Which is cool if the intention is get me thinking outside of the box I'm currently in, expanding my consciousness. But it's very uncool if it's just to take the piss, or like I said before, justify the grant money.

As for my definition of "genuine", all I can do is fall back on my own work. I know when it's satisfying my sense of "coming from the right place". I know when it isn't. And thus I assume it's similar for other creative types.
posted by philip-random at 4:43 PM on May 23, 2013



As for my definition of "genuine", all I can do is fall back on my own work. I know when it's satisfying my sense of "coming from the right place". I know when it isn't. And thus I assume it's similar for other creative types.


exactly. i want to see the blood and the sweat (not literally, Tracey Emin) that went into the work. and i don't feel like 'taking the piss' is a valid reason for anything.

but hey, there are millions of great artists. they're just painting on the streets (before they get coopted into galleries. and i'm not talking about that annoying prankster Banksey or that They Live ripoff artist who did the Obama poster) or designing videogame mindfucks.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:45 PM on May 23, 2013


Just because you don't like it doesn't mean the person who made it doesn't care about it.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:49 PM on May 23, 2013


Like... I spent half a semester in a fine arts college. I ran out of time for an assignment, so I stuck the phrase 'Tom Waits for No Man' on a piece of posterboard with tape. I got a good grade on it. I went to an exhibit at the MCA and saw things like a bean bag chair - made out of concrete! Wow!

And I once so strongly objected to being forced to write a book report on positive thinking that I made up a fake book and wrote my book report on that.+ Does that anecdote invalidate literature?

+ I herein apologize to my tenth grade English teacher; Sorry, Mrs Sweeney, but I just hated the smugness of the assignment.
posted by winna at 4:54 PM on May 23, 2013


Just because you don't like it doesn't mean the person who made it doesn't care about it.

Has anyone said this in this thread?
posted by philip-random at 4:57 PM on May 23, 2013


"and i don't feel like 'taking the piss' is a valid reason for anything."

You are sentenced to watch The Young Ones until you get that taking the piss is a valid reason for pretty much anything.

"but hey, there are millions of great artists. they're just painting on the streets (before they get coopted into galleries. and i'm not talking about that annoying prankster Banksey or that They Live ripoff artist who did the Obama poster) or designing videogame mindfucks."

Shephard Fairey has more going on than you seem to get, and the They Live/Obey thing is intentional. Mike Mongo is on here, he'll drop science on you if you ever get out of your ass enough to listen.
posted by klangklangston at 4:58 PM on May 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


"As for my definition of "genuine", all I can do is fall back on my own work. I know when it's satisfying my sense of "coming from the right place". I know when it isn't. And thus I assume it's similar for other creative types."

There's absolutely no way to judge that for other artists though. So while you may not want to take the piss, you can't really slag other people for doing so.

Having a sense of humor about art helps SO MUCH.
posted by klangklangston at 5:00 PM on May 23, 2013


Having a sense of humor about art helps SO MUCH.

have too much and the whole endevour turns into one big joke

You are sentenced to watch The Young Ones until you get that taking the piss is a valid reason for pretty much anything.

who do you think they based Rik on?
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:01 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


what is anyone even arguing here
posted by shakespeherian at 5:06 PM on May 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Some people are arguing that the qualities they value in art are the only qualities worth valuing, and art that exhibits other qualities make it not-art, and apparently none of this is subjective. Some people find this argument incredibly aggravating, and here we are. Again.
posted by rtha at 5:22 PM on May 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


I am arguing that art requires an artist and an audience, and if the two of you are not tuned to the same channel, somebody will try to sell you a Snuggie®.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:29 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


"have too much and the whole endevour turns into one big joke"

So what? Lots of art is intentional jokes. L.H.O.O.Q.
posted by klangklangston at 5:32 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am arguing that art requires an artist and an audience, and if the two of you are not tuned to the same channel, somebody will try to sell you a Snuggie®.
You win the game if the MOMA buys your Snuggie®.
posted by b1tr0t at 5:40 PM on May 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


(Of course, not everyone is playing the game. And even those who are will probably glare at you disapprovingly if you announce your win)
posted by b1tr0t at 5:44 PM on May 23, 2013


...the empty art school joking that people dig.

Like... I spent half a semester in a fine arts college. I ran out of time for an assignment, so I stuck the phrase 'Tom Waits for No Man' on a piece of posterboard with tape. I got a good grade on it...

So, do you think you pulled a fast one on your teachers? Or do you think you maybe came up with a good idea, despite your worst intentions?

I dunno - honestly I'd have to see the piece. But in any case, most artists are not trying to make insidery artworld jokes..most want their works to communicate with broad audiences. It's just possible that a piece of posterboard with a pun about a cultural icon taped to it would have an appeal outside the classroom/studio, and its just possible that your teachers saw some potential there that you didn't see yourself, and rewarded it, in the hopes that you might not turn out completely cynical about art's ability to communicate in surprising and unpredictable ways.
posted by aunt_winnifred at 6:01 PM on May 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you look at the painting God is far in the background, but he's interacting with and holding up the crucifix in the foreground. Why? Because God doesn't give a shit about perspective, he's God.


I'm not sure I agree. Masaccio was one of earliest adopters of linear perspective in painting. I think it looks awkward to our modern eyes, but I don't think he was trying to say anything about God's omnipresence via perspective.

That particular painting is meant to be viewed from below - it's hung quite high on the wall in Santa Maria Novella. When the perspective from this low angle is taken into consideration, the cadaver at the bottom becomes the foreground, the patrons in the mid-ground, and God holding up the cross behind that. His figure is where it should be in order to "realistically" hold up the cross.

But, what is astounding, is that he depicts God as a man, standing on feet. That's pretty wild for that time period!
posted by Fiorentina97 at 7:25 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


And it's breaking the plane, which was like ZOMG 3D for the time.
posted by klangklangston at 11:01 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


The party's over, but... relevant?
posted by artof.mulata at 6:08 AM on May 27, 2013


The party's over, but... relevant?

Oh well, for those who do not have much in the way of a natural connection to art or music, interest can get you involved enough, so that you get something worthwhile out of art, music etc.. But this poor guy's experience with art is defined by struggles with the authority figures in his head that there is no room left for him to be present enough to see or hear the beauty in front of him.

Sad... hope that the way this this person experience is not how most people feel when they are standing in front of a Rembrandt painting or listening to a Brahms intermezzo or Bach cantata.
posted by snaparapans at 7:20 AM on May 27, 2013


yeah snaparapans, I'd agree, but I've heard enough of that sort of comment that I thought it would be humorous to drop the link. Heard it here on the Blue plenty of times and even more in real life.

It's sad that people can't let art just sort of wash over and around them and let the experience be the experience without commenting on how it takes a $50K art school education to get the dialogue. Art doesn't have to be for everyone anymore than anything else does. One doesn't need a to be a rocket scientist to trip out on Hubble space shots or have a masters in architecture to lose it over Frank Loyd Wright's Fallingwater. For some reason though, art has that polarizing affect; is there some reason? Some non-facile reason?
posted by artof.mulata at 7:55 PM on May 27, 2013


is there some reason? Some non-facile reason?

I don't know about non-facile, but I think that US education system does not place much of a value on art, which has its plusses and minuses. Minuses are typical stories like the one you posted. There is old adage goes something like: europeans are trapped by their knowledge of history and americans are trapped by their lack of knowledge of history.

So a plus may be that the reason that American Modern and Contemporary art is so vital, because we never got trapped in history, so the art is fresh. Imagine growing up in Florence or Rome trying to be an artist.. Michelangelo, DaVinci, Giotto.. et al. all looking down and laughing.

Maybe it really boils down the something around the article you posted..many americans never learned how to behave in front of painting, never learned that it is ok to just let go and imagine.. and that is really all there is to it. Well, a little art history helps..
posted by snaparapans at 8:23 PM on May 27, 2013


This is a big bugaboo for me-- I lay a lot of blame on arts education in the US. The way that arts (especially in high school) are taught tends to involve a lot of close reading, breaking down of metaphors, digging for symbolism, with the explicit or implicit understanding that the artist is a Great Man of History who has Deep Insights into the Human Condition and therefore art is some sort of coded message (a la Eliot-- the objective correlative) so that laypersons can comprehend the artist's profound statement. So when we look at art-- be it poetry or a novel or a painting-- we immediately think that the surface must be a Trojan horse and we need to pull it apart to find out what secret meaning-- what Great Truth-- it's carrying. We want objective metaphors, we want something that could only be the work of a genius. If something could have been made in ten minutes, we want to discard it-- if something doesn't say something original and profound, it must not be good art. We want art to be an intellectual experience, and so when we're confronted with art that seems not to be what we expect from intellectualism-- whether it's quickly made or has no subtext-- we think either that it doesn't measure up or that it must be trying to con its way through, that it's pretending to be an intellectual experience when it obviously isn't. We haven't really been given the tools to expect a piece of art to be just exactly what it is-- if it doesn't seem to be an intellectual experience, we think that's the piece's failing, rather than just a fact about it.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:28 PM on May 27, 2013


or have a masters in architecture to lose it over Frank Loyd Wright's Fallingwater

No, just a basic understanding of engineering.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:36 PM on May 27, 2013


Bernini- The Power Of Art
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:24 PM on May 27, 2013


For folks like me who are very interested in art/art history but will forever remain formally uneducated due to the high cost of post-secondary education, I would highly recommend Saylor's Art History program. Thorough, engaging, 100% free. Almost every course has several assignments and quizzes as well as a final exam so you can know whether or not you've learned anything.

Some favorites:
* ARTH206 - The Italian Proto-Renaissance through Mannerism
* ARTH208 - Modern Art
* ARTH406 - Buddhist Art
* ARTH408 - Contemporary Art
posted by divined by radio at 8:28 AM on May 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


No, just a basic understanding of engineering.

One could say something similar about the pyramids or the Pyrenees, but I doubt anyone would.
posted by artof.mulata at 11:01 PM on May 28, 2013


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