I Needed Color
August 10, 2017 8:51 AM   Subscribe

"I found myself looking around at one point at a really bleak winter in New York and it was just so depressing, and I think I needed color."
posted by Memo (85 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm glad he's found another outlet for his creative passions than using his celebrity to froth up the anti-vaccine movement.
posted by phunniemee at 9:08 AM on August 10 [21 favorites]


Guardian critic Johnathan Jones really hated it, which is probably a good sign as Jones is now widely regarded as being significantly behind the times. Me? I thought his stuff was not the worst, and if he gave it a decade or two then things might look pretty good.

Also, to contextualise the work beyond the idea of 'famous man makes paintings', Carrey seems to be dealing with a lot of grief and a divorce, and making art is probably one of the healthiest ways an enormously rich person can process those difficult emotions. It's not a fad diet, it's not joining a cult, it's not a business trading off his name, and it's not long-term substance abuse. I think he's entitled to be proud of his work and make a little video about it.
posted by The River Ivel at 9:15 AM on August 10 [37 favorites]


Yuck. I find it insufferable, personally. I mean, he doesn't HAVE to keep it from the world, but I reserve the right to call it out as pretty terrible as far as paintings go.

Also, I'm just. so. tired. of. medocrity. I'm tired of coddling it and making excuses for it - especially for white rich men.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 9:37 AM on August 10 [13 favorites]


See also, Sad Brad in the Desert. Pitt, too, has taken his suffering to the art world. I mean, good for him... but he still looks a mediocre dope.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 9:39 AM on August 10 [4 favorites]


i think this video is a lovely example of how anyone can start to paint, just pick up the brush and keep at it. Even someone who is well known in a different field can go home and paint. Sure, people on metafilter might find your art insufferable, but the important thing is that your art teaches you something about yourself.
posted by rebent at 9:40 AM on August 10 [45 favorites]


Looks like fun to me.
posted by diogenes at 9:42 AM on August 10 [5 favorites]


He did "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" with Jerry Seinfeld and at the end he gave Jerry a tour of his beautiful sunny studio and spoke about his art. I found that piece much better than this as far as explaining what the creative process does for him. I liked the artwork in that piece much better too. He clearly loves painting and gets a lot out of it. More power to him. I'm glad for him.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 9:52 AM on August 10 [7 favorites]


Completely aside from liking or not liking his paintings, I love it that's he's painting. While not everyone can be a Rembrandt or a Da Vinci, the making of art belongs to all of us. As a rank amateur, I feel sad when other people look at my completely amateur paintings and drawings and say "I wish I could do that I'm just not creative/talented" and I try to persuade them that it's a skill that can be learned, and even with nonprofessional skill it's so fun and satisfying. Everyone should be making art or dancing or singing or writing (if they enjoy it).

I hope other people see the video and think "hey maybe I'll paint something too, and maybe it's okay if it's not artistic genius."
posted by bunderful at 10:00 AM on August 10 [21 favorites]


He and Dubya should have a paint-off.
posted by grumpybear69 at 10:12 AM on August 10 [4 favorites]


Am I the only one who didn't even consider this wasn't a parody until they read the comments here? One of the captions in one of the paintings was "SOMEBODY STOP HIM" which is a hilarious and absurd reference to one his character's famous catchphrases? If this isn't parody my mind is fully blown.
posted by skwt at 10:23 AM on August 10 [4 favorites]


Completely aside from liking or not liking his paintings, I love it that's he's painting. While not everyone can be a Rembrandt or a Da Vinci, the making of art belongs to all of us. As a rank amateur, I feel sad when other people look at my completely amateur paintings and drawings and say "I wish I could do that I'm just not creative/talented" and I try to persuade them that it's a skill that can be learned, and even with nonprofessional skill it's so fun and satisfying. Everyone should be making art or dancing or singing or writing (if they enjoy it).

Tom Wolfe wrote a piece in 2000 for the New York Times Magazine about figurative sculptor Frederick E. Hart.

While I don't agree with all of Wolfe's opinions in this piece, I do notice a trend in recent years away from the highly skilled artist and toward the more amateur. There is nothing wrong with amateur art, but it is a bit disappointing to see amateur art become a dominant cultural value. There has always been amateur art and hobby art. And it's good to encourage people to try different activities without feeling intimidated. But I think the pop culture conception of art has swung too far in the direction of "Make something! Make anything!" and too far from the veneration of artists who hone their craft to make challenging, vital works over the course of lifetime. The "Just make something!" is good for the emotional health of the person making the work ("I didn't think I could do it, and then I did! What a neat experience."), but the work itself is, frankly, usually without any value for anyone else than the amateur artist and his/her family and friends.

Art is many things to many people. Plenty of people are getting encouraged to pick up a brush and paint for the first time, and that is capital-G Good. But there's not enough infrastructure supporting artists for whom craft and content is a lifelong spiritual quest.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 10:28 AM on August 10 [5 favorites]


Being able to make people laugh is such a magnificent talent. I understand being restless, but it sure does feel like he's long since forgotten what he was once good at.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:33 AM on August 10


Plenty of people are getting encouraged to pick up a brush and paint for the first time, and that is capital-G Good. But there's not enough infrastructure supporting artists for whom craft and content is a lifelong spiritual quest.

Yes ... as someone who wants to improve I find very few opportunities to study with serious artists (as opposed to paint-n-sip sessions) unless I travel to do it. Someone smart would start an art school in my town and leverage "paint something!" classes to fund more serious classes.
posted by bunderful at 10:48 AM on August 10 [2 favorites]


Completely aside from liking or not liking his paintings, I love it that's he's painting.

As everybody should, in my worldview. Or if you don't love it, just walk on by.

I'm glad that Tom Wolfe set himself to writing, and I'd let it go at that. But Wolfe loses my respect when he goes too far and maliciously hurts people. In the Painted Word he refers to a famous, and recently deceased now, painter's "retarded son." He's referring to a friend of mine that does have some handicaps from a serious car accident in his infancy, but none of those handicaps are mental. That's some serious Trump-level cruelty there.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:54 AM on August 10 [6 favorites]


Also, I'm just. so. tired. of. medocrity. I'm tired of coddling it and making excuses for it

Yeah, we need to shit on anyone who isn't a genius or at the top of their field. If you're trying to be creative and you're not amazing at it, you should be belittled and mocked.

That will certainly encourage people to try creative endeavors, and ensure that the cream rises to the top. I saw a guy painting in Central Park the other day. It wasn't very good so I told him to stop wasting his time with that terrible garbage. What, was I supposed to coddle him?
posted by Sangermaine at 11:01 AM on August 10 [34 favorites]


Also, I'm just. so. tired. of. medocrity.

Couldn't disagree more with that. Mediocrity is the best. Without a large variety of mediocre exemplars you will never learn what it is in particular that distinguishes genius.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:05 AM on August 10 [18 favorites]


This ain't art, this is therapy. I wish more A-listers would put their therapy sessions online.
posted by ouke at 11:08 AM on August 10 [5 favorites]


I'd prefer to get my outsider art fix from more talented outsider artists... especially those who didn't have a voice, money or platform that Ace Ventura has.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 11:30 AM on August 10 [2 favorites]


'd prefer to get my outsider art fix from more talented outsider artists... especially those who didn't have a voice, money or platform that Ace Ventura has.

Yeah, that's the point. Carrey's got enough money and star power that he could have made a hit app, or appeared on a comedy version of The Voice, or just basically done the Hollywood circuit until the sun exploded. If he stands up, like he does in this video, and says, 'actually guys, I'm going to do some painting now', rather than appear in Pet Detective 3, that is going to open up the idea of painting for some people. Probably not you if you're on the blue, being a cool internet-savvy person with refined tastes and all, but... some folk, yeah.
posted by The River Ivel at 11:40 AM on August 10 [12 favorites]


I'd prefer to get my outsider art fix from more talented outsider artists... especially those who didn't have a voice, money or platform that Ace Ventura has.

Exactly. Jim has been extraordinarily successful and had his voice heard loud and clear for many years, and he's gone so far as to use that voice to actively advocate harmful ideologies. He is not wanting for attention or influence. Good for him that he's painting. I can see why some people find it inspiring - people should feel free to try things without fear of failure - but I can't help seeing it as anything other than a puff piece celebrating his avocation at which he has very little talent. Even the way he described his color choices was painfully sophomoric to me, and I don't have any formal art training.

I guess my reaction wouldn't be so negative if it hadn't been framed on social media as this awe-inspiring video, or if the subject had been someone for whom I didn't already have a distaste.

OTOH his mini sculptures are not too bad.
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:43 AM on August 10 [2 favorites]


Well, I do have some formal art training and I enjoyed his work. He has no technique or understanding of why things work (or don't), but another few years of experimentation and training will probably take him somewhere. And like others have said, I'd rather he deal with his crippling depression with paint than obsess over vaccine truthiness.
posted by xyzzy at 11:48 AM on August 10 [8 favorites]


I never expected quite that much negativity about this video on the blue. Yeah, he has a platform and a brand, yeah he is a rank amateur, but... So what? I saw nothing in this video about his art being great. I saw plenty about a guy, who can admittedly afford a very nice NYC flat, creating some paintings and coming off as fairly authentic about it.

Watching this video doesn't take the space of celebrating other artists. For me it takes the space of yet another Boredpanda FPP cute animals mewing video montage that rots the brain. Not everything has to be life changing and require deep inspection. This video strikes me mainly as nice, open, and approachable.
posted by twooster at 11:55 AM on August 10 [10 favorites]


It's not a fad diet, it's not joining a cult, it's not a business trading off his name, and it's not long-term substance abuse. I think he's entitled to be proud of his work and make a little video about it.

If there's one thing the world desperately, desperately needs from its famous people, assuming those famous people already exist, it's models about how to cope with difficult times without resorting to incredibly destructive behavior. Contrast how many comedians we've lost to drug overdoses and the like. I don't care if this isn't the thing he's best at, if the thing he's best at would in that moment not be the best thing for him to be doing.
posted by Sequence at 12:21 PM on August 10 [24 favorites]


Yeah, he has a platform and a brand, yeah he is a rank amateur, but... So what? I saw nothing in this video about his art being great. I saw plenty about a guy, who can admittedly afford a very nice NYC flat, creating some paintings and coming off as fairly authentic about it.

Yeah ... a lot of people I know who dabble in creative endeavors seem almost ashamed about it, or embarrassed to share it outside of a very small circle.

Honestly I hate the guy's movies, but I like seeing him being so open and enthusiastic about making art - even mediocre art. He seems like a real, vulnerable human, trying something new and not being perfect at it. Not just a source of really annoying catch-phrases.
posted by bunderful at 12:25 PM on August 10 [7 favorites]


If art is a mirror to our wider culture, then this thread is doubly so. I'm not particularly interested in Jim Carrey or his emotional journey, and I wouldn't choose to spend any more time looking at his paintings than I have already, but then I'm a terrible snob like that. It's more interesting what this video's (and this thread's) existence says about celebrity, which is a curious state, and the rights, obligations, restrictions and expectations that people consider to come attached.

I don't see him making particular claims for his art other than as therapy and a continuation of a life-long pleasure, so you can't slap him down for pretence or self-delusion, and it's not exactly a sin for someone famous to have someone make a video about something important to them. In this case, as people have said upthread, it's actually admirable and inspirational, compared to so many obvious alternatives.

It's understandable, though, that it's galling to see someone get attention in a field of whatever sort through celebrity unrelated to that field. A thousand more talented artists aren't getting that attention after decades of hard work and dedication, and you just waltz in? Plus, poor art is an assault on the spirit and celebrity is a battering-ram on one's filters. If you don't like it, walk on by - fine, but it's already sucked up some of your time on earth.

I like the singer, not the song.
posted by Devonian at 12:48 PM on August 10 [4 favorites]


A thousand more talented artists aren't getting that attention after decades of hard work and dedication, and you just waltz in?

Well that's certainly never happened in the art world before.
posted by Sangermaine at 1:39 PM on August 10 [5 favorites]


The making of art does not belong to all of us. The making of art belongs to people who have the talent, skill and work to make art. Just as no one would expect me to be an engineer, and we don't say the making of tools belongs to all of us, we should kill this pernicious lie that if we feel deeply enough we will succeed at being an artist. Jim Carrey's sad clown schtick does not make the work valuable, and him being famous does not make the visual work more interesting. He's a shitty painter who makes shitty paintings
posted by PinkMoose at 1:55 PM on August 10


Jim Carrey's sad clown schtick

His severe depression? Yeah, fine, hate his paintings as much as you want, but don't write off someone's mental illness as shtick.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 2:04 PM on August 10 [10 favorites]


The making of art does not belong to all of us.

Punk rock would like a word with you in the green room.
posted by grumpybear69 at 2:06 PM on August 10 [27 favorites]


The making of art does not belong to all of us. The making of art belongs to people who have the talent, skill and work to make art.

I'm not sure what point you were trying to make but this is wrong. Not everyone is cut out to be A Meaningful Artist, but anyone can make art and shame to those who say otherwise.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 2:08 PM on August 10 [24 favorites]


Just as no one would expect me to be an engineer

Do you want to be an engineer? If you want to be an engineer, the proof is in the pudding. If you create things that work, then they work. We have standards for whether you're allowed to get other people to pay you to do certain sorts of engineering based on public safety, but if, for example, you want to be a software engineer, then you can indeed engineer software just by going out and learning how to do it and then actually doing it. At that point, whether someone pays you to engineer software is a completely different kettle of fish. What people pay for art is a completely unrelated fact to the making of it. Art, like software, can be created for entirely personal purposes. If you want to create art, or software, for purposes that serve other people, then that's certainly more of a challenge and not everybody is going to be very good at it. But that doesn't mean you need to stop writing code immediately because you aren't capable of working on an enterprise Java application. Why would this apply to art if it applies to nothing else?

Just because you can't necessarily make a career of it purely on your own skills doesn't mean it's wrong to do. If you want to build stuff, build stuff. If you want to paint, paint. Nobody is well-served by gatekeeping around either engineering or art. Absent art so bad it literally makes people's eyes bleed and is therefore dangerous to the public, there's no reason to not have as many people doing it as are better off for doing it.
posted by Sequence at 2:13 PM on August 10 [7 favorites]


"The making of art does not belong to all of us."

lol, no.

Anyone can write or paint or play music or dance as much as they want. Aside from these things being professions they are also enthusiasms. In those cases it doesn't matter whether you "succeed" other than in the sense that it makes you happy. I'm unlikely ever to be a pro photographer or a pro musician, but I'll still take pictures and play my guitar because I like doing so.

That said, if someone wants to pay Jim Carrey money to have one of his paintings? Then Carrey can call himself a professional painter. "What I think is good art" and "What someone will pay for, for their own reasons" are a Venn diagram with probably less overlap than one might think.

So, yeah, Jim Carrey can go on making art because he enjoys it, and if someone wants to buy that art because he's Jim Carrey, well, they can do that too. Either way, he's in the clear calling himself an artist if he wants to.
posted by jscalzi at 2:16 PM on August 10 [15 favorites]


Just because someone is depressed does not mean that we have to take more care with his work. He is making his work public, and he should not be treated any less severely because of it. Hobby painting is like masturbating, pleasurable, tension relieving, and really not something that someone should gold star in public. (Acconci aside)
posted by PinkMoose at 2:31 PM on August 10


The making of art does not belong to all of us. The making of art belongs to people who have the talent, skill and work to make art. Just as no one would expect me to be an engineer, and we don't say the making of tools belongs to all of us, we should kill this pernicious lie that if we feel deeply enough we will succeed at being an artist.
PinkMoose

This reads like the opening of a speech the leader of the evil government in a dystopian YA novel would make while overseeing the public burning of art.
posted by Sangermaine at 2:32 PM on August 10 [23 favorites]


"Hobby painting is like masturbating, pleasurable, tension relieving, and really not something that someone should gold star in public."

Well, but, who died and made you Art King? I mean, I didn't vote for you.

I think your point that work displayed in public can be criticized is non-controversial. On the other hand, and to use your colorful metaphor, if there's a market/audience for this particular flavor of masturbation, meh. Let people enjoy the show, if they like. Their kink doesn't have to be yours.
posted by jscalzi at 2:38 PM on August 10 [15 favorites]


The making of tools does belong to all of us. Not even in the same species… Likewise we make art, we put it out there, others see it, and we all find out what happens. sometimes there are surprises.
posted by maniabug at 2:43 PM on August 10 [2 favorites]


Let's say I really think math is fun, even though I'm not going to win the Fields Medal anytime soon. I like solving math puzzles, reading about interesting math concepts, play fun math games. It's a fun hobby.

And Bob comes along, spouting about abstract algebra and abelian groups and category theory and elliptic curves. Bob asks me what I think about Grothendieck. Bob sneers at my enjoyment of prime numbers, because it's "nice, but all a bit cliche, really."

All in all, I'd call Bob an anti-intellectual, someone who enjoys talking about social rank than playing with math. The more Bobs we have, the more hostile an environment becomes, the less everyone gets into math, begins to say 'it's not for me'.

Most people I know who do really enjoy math are excited to get into it. Sure, the more advanced you are, the less enthusiastic they may be about concepts more familiar to them. But interesting math is interesting.

---

Let's say I really think art is fun, even though I'm not going to win the Turner Prize anytime soon. I like sketching and drawing and painting, going to museums and seeing shows, working on a fun project. It's a fun hobby.

And Bob comes along, spouting about Arte Povera and Fluxus art practices and Marfa and Lucian Freud. Bob asks me what I think about Hito Steyerl. Bob sneers at my enjoyment of Monet, because it's "a all a bit cliche, really."

All in all, I'd call Bob an anti-intellectual, someone who enjoys talking about social rank than playing with art. The more Bobs we have, the more hostile an environment becomes, the less everyone gets into art, begins to say 'it's not for me'.

Most people I know who do really enjoy art are excited to get into it. Sure, the more advanced you are, the less enthusiastic they may be about concepts more familiar to them. But interesting art is inters-sting.
posted by suedehead at 2:55 PM on August 10 [3 favorites]


Well these comments are a great example of why in over ten years of membership I've never contributed a post.

If you post art you will receive the following comments:
Type 1 Response: ugh, this sucks
Type 2 Response: ugh, this sucks AND this artist sucks for (completely unreleated reason)
Type 3 Response: I would never ever enjoy this person's work. It is objectively bad. But bless their little heart for trying.
Type 4 Response: Well, I liked it? Now I feel I have to actively defend something I enjoyed because it was instantly labeled as TERRIBLE within four comments.
Type 5 Response: Snide joke dismissing art.

Every time. Every single time.
posted by cyphill at 2:57 PM on August 10 [18 favorites]


The first rule of the Internet is that if you like something you're wrong and a bad person.
posted by Sangermaine at 3:00 PM on August 10 [7 favorites]


>The making of art does not belong to all of us. The making of art belongs to people who have the talent, skill and work to make art.

This is one of the worst hot-takes I've read in recent memory. I can't decide if this opinion sounds worse coming out of the mouth of an artist or a non-artist.

I agree, cyphill. This has been a rough comment section. The "I'm just. so. tired. of. medocrity" [sic] at the top of the thread makes me want to scream. If you're so tired of mediocrity, certainly your time is better served by working at becoming non-mediocre, rather than erecting arbitrary barriers around who is and isn't allowed to paint?

For Pete's sake, Carrey isn't hurting anyone by painting. He's working towards something for himself. Let him be.
posted by Cpt. The Mango at 3:06 PM on August 10 [8 favorites]


So I feel like maybe I helped start the ball rolling on bad vs. good art, and for that I apologize. Nobody should be afraid to make art. It isn't wrong or cringeworthy or otherwise in any way detestable that Jim Carrey is making art, or even that he made a documentary about it and posted it to the internet, because when you live your life in the public eye, that's what you do, right?

The pushback (at least from my perspective) has more to do with the framing of and hype surrounding the video (not here, so much, but on FB and elsewhere on the internet) which sets off my cynicism re: PR machinations. I am, admittedly, very cynical when it comes to highly controlled public narratives of famous people, especially when they tug on heartstrings. So take my grousing with a grain of salt.

And @xyzzy, it is funny that you are more tolerant of amateur painters than I am, because I'm the same way with amateur musicians, and that is my area of training & professional experience. So probably I was engaging in a bit of upturned-nose posturing.
posted by grumpybear69 at 3:15 PM on August 10 [4 favorites]


Jeeeeeesus, all of you shitting on this (not on the celebrity nature of Jim Carrey but on the quality of his art itself, the "sophomoric color choices" comment etc) are EXACTLY 100% why people are ashamed and scared to show anyone their art/share their art with the world.
posted by FritoKAL at 3:30 PM on August 10 [13 favorites]


Maybe we could have/maybe somebody could link to a metatalk thread on how to get art on the blue discussed in a meaningful way?
posted by The River Ivel at 3:40 PM on August 10 [2 favorites]


The making of art does not belong to all of us.
Fuck. That. Shit. I couldn't care less about Jim Carrey, but this is just fundamental bullshit. The desire for self-expression is a fundamental human drive. You don't need permission to make art, and it's pretty frigging hard to deny people permission to make art, because they will find a way to do it even in the most difficult circumstances.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 3:59 PM on August 10 [13 favorites]


Just because someone is depressed does not mean that we have to take more care with his work. He is making his work public, and he should not be treated any less severely because of it. Hobby painting is like masturbating, pleasurable, tension relieving, and really not something that someone should gold star in public.

Flagged as offensive.

Seriously, where do you get off deciding you're an arbiter of who's "good enough" to show their work to others? What are your credentials? Certifications? Awards? Surely anybody opining this authoritatively must have initialisms after their name like whoa, or exhibition credits, or something similar.

I don't think Carrey's paintings are amazing. I probably wouldn't mount any of the ones I've seen in my apartment. And yet, when I watched this video I felt an upswelling of "man, I wish I could do that" which was thankfully followed by "…you know, I could, if I weren't listening to the mental voices about how my work isn't good enough."

See above about "flagged as offensive". How dare you try to police and shut down other people's creative impulses? I won't say "you should be ashamed" but I will say that you should reconsider your life choices.
posted by Lexica at 4:02 PM on August 10 [8 favorites]


It's almost like the making of thoughtful MetaFilter replies does not belong to all of us.

if you know what I mean
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 4:06 PM on August 10 [5 favorites]


A thing I'm seeing lately in galleries and museums is professional artist who (I guess) are doing a take on amateur art; specifically amateur interpretations of cartoon art...I don't think the results are very worthwhile. I'm thinking of stuff like this and this.
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:34 PM on August 10


Am I the only one who thinks some of these are beautiful?
posted by panhopticon at 4:48 PM on August 10 [3 favorites]


Just for the record, FritoKAL, it was the way he talked about his color choices that I found sophomoric. And only then because it was featured in a self-congratulatory vignette with swelling music and lots of hype. I would not, generally speaking, make that sort of criticism about an artist who was profiled by someone other than their own personal videographer.

I found one particular statement - "It's getting kind of pedestrian to me, now, the teal" - to be nonsensical. A color cannot be pedestrian (or sophomoric!), only its application can. Of course what he meant was that he was getting bored with it, but that stuck in my craw as pretty pretentious and silly. Again, because of the context of the video.

Metafilter does a great job of supporting people who want to share their art in a safe place - go to the music area, for example. You won't see insults or jeers or pretty much any negativity at all. Just constructive comments and compliments. If someone doesn't like your tune they will likely just not comment. The public sphere (galleries, the internet, etc.) is a different story, and anyone putting their stuff out there should be ready for (and welcome) criticism. Hopefully it is meaningful and not flippant or hateful, but you never know. It is just part of the ecosphere.

People have, since cave dwellers were scrawling on cave walls, had Opinions About Art. Sometimes very, very strong ones, like PinkMoose. Does anyone else here agree with PinkMoose re: who should and should not be able to make art? It seems unlikely. Expressing those opinions - absent homophobia, racism, ableism, etc. - should be something people feel welcome to do, especially and particularly when the subject of those opinions is someone like Jim Carrey, someone who is 100% not going to be impacted at all.

Now, if people here are reading these criticisms of his art and taking that to mean they should not create art themselves, that is unfortunate, and I would advise those people to not take criticism of an Extremely Famous Person who is Changing Their Narrative as an indictment of their own aspirations. But now that it is clear that such dream-dampening may be happening, subsequent commentary should take that into account, because we're a community. I certainly don't want to quash anyone's ambitions.
posted by grumpybear69 at 4:50 PM on August 10 [3 favorites]


Am I the only one who thinks some of these are beautiful?

No. I thought a lot of them were really neat, and for someone who only took up painting six years ago, he's doing a great job. I did have some thoughts about how fun it must be to explore painting as a medium when you aren't limited by the cost of materials and time.

Carrey's 55 and seemingly in good health, so if he sticks with it, then in 10-20 years he will probably be very good, maybe even remarkable.

And art does belong to all of us, it has belonged to all of us since we were drawing on cave walls. People are not born with technique and skill, it has to be learned, and that's what Carrey is doing. Shame on PinkMoose for trying to gatekeep. That's bullshit. It's particularly bullshit to attribute such a thing to a person who has been engaging in creative pursuits practically his whole life.
posted by Autumnheart at 5:06 PM on August 10 [4 favorites]


Look, I'm sorry to everyone if my comment came off as cranky - it really was my first reaction and not very intellectual. It was probably stemming to some degree from jealousy. I mean, I love art and I make art. I think art belongs to everyone. I'm inspired by outsider artists.

I'm not inspired by Jim Carrey's therapy-hobby, even though it's great for him. The most I could muster instinctively was, "eh, good for you, buddy" because that's as much as his work needs. It's only inspiring *to me* in a "anyone can art" way.

The thing that struck me in the video is yeah, while anyone can access art, only someone with money, time, leisure can do it the way he's doing. I don't mean a little money either: his supplies and paints and set-up are expensive. I'd kill to get the opportunity to explore any crumb of talent I might have with as vast a studio as Carrey's, but my plans for completing a 10 x 10 foot canvas are hindered by not being able to afford the canvas, paint, brushes and time. My art is limited to doodling in meetings and falling asleep in front of the TV with an Andrew Loomis "how to draw" book after working all day.

I'm inspired by artists (like many outsider artists featured in the words I linked above) who often create despite everything: despite mental illness, or obscurity, poverty, or sexism or a soulless job or physical confinement. They create because something screams from the unknown and pushes itself out through them irrepressibly. Their work speaks to me in a way that Jim Carrey's just probably never will. His amateur work looks (to me: and I'm happy to admit this is only like, my opinion, man) like a really soulless approximation of the work of Outsider Artists whose suffering comes from a much different place, with a much different legacy.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 5:46 PM on August 10 [3 favorites]


I see your point of view, Dressed to Kill, but I'm not sure I can call it soulless -- and obviously this is also only, like, my opinion, man. Some of what he was saying sounded to me like undiluted depression, or at least a product of it. All the stuff about Jesus? When I've been in my absolute darkest periods, I've gotten really obsessed with religious themes and imagery. I've heard that's not uncommon. Jesus was a persecuted figure who symbolizes forgiveness, redemption, and love; speaking for myself, I'm sure on some level I end up feeling persecuted, and I know I need to be loved and forgiven. It doesn't turn me into a believer (in my case, I don't make art about Jesus, but I end up reading academic books about Christianity, which is probably just my way of accomplishing the same thing), and Carrey sounds pretty agnostic, but I do feel like I get where he's coming from.

The way he talks about a need for color is equally relatable to me as someone who has lived with crippling depression. It's like you get restless after a while, and it's not manic, but you do suddenly feel this need to bring in bright light and bright colors. It doesn't seem incidental that so much of what he does is so brightly colored.

I can see people objecting to how grandiose he can sound at points in this video, and I get it, he's a rich guy with nothing but time and money to throw at this. At the same time, he's been pretty open about his depression, and from my perspective, at least, it did actually feel like something I could relate to on that level.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 6:13 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


I think I didn't like this doc because it seemed like he didn't know enough about the thing he was talking about. Like straight out the gate: "What you do in life chooses you. You can choose not to do it. You can choose to try and do something safer. Your vocation chooses you." Like, if the documentary was about someone who really had to struggle to be an artist, I can understand those words, but coming from him, it just sounds like he thinks he was being risky by taking up art, which is going to make some people scoff.

If this was more overt about how his paintings were inspired by his depression, and then expanded on that idea, I'd be into it more.
posted by 23skidoo at 6:22 PM on August 10


These comments...man.

There's not liking the artist, there's not liking the art, and then there's shitting on a person who's trying to do something new in the same of self-care.
posted by kimberussell at 6:24 PM on August 10 [4 favorites]


I'm telling you guys, watch the Comedians in Cars episode if you can. He just seems so happy about doing his art. The work shown is really uplifting. It makes him happy. *It makes him happy.*
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:31 PM on August 10 [5 favorites]



The making of art does not belong to all of us. The making of art belongs to people who have the talent, skill and work to make art.


But IT DOES!!!!!! It is no different then watching sports or reading a book or just letting your mind wander and daydream. It is a moment where you can decide everything, or nothing, or burn it all to the ground. It isn't a street, that needs to support cars and people. It isn't a building, that needs to keep out the bad weather and the warmth in. But it is no less an avenue and a shelter- a way to look in the mirror that is gentle.

Many moons ago a friend and I were sitting around talking sh&&- as you do. And he is an amazing bass player and a laundry list of other extraordinary things. I was just starting to paint. (And I sucked like a black hole fwiw) . We discussed whether you do work to inspire an emotion, or you do the work and the reactions happen as they do.

We came to the conclusion that it was a chicken/egg scenario, and the only thing you can require of the outside world when you create is give them the option, and be an adult when no one likes it but you.

I've been painting for 20 years now, and I just sold one to someone I don't know a month ago. It was the most amazing feeling, that I made someone I didn't know see things and be happy.
posted by LuckyMonkey21 at 8:17 PM on August 10 [7 favorites]


I wonder if some outlet like this could have offered solace to Robin Williams. I mean, I know he had a rare, specific, and horrible health issue, but I wonder if something like this could have helped even if just a little.
posted by amtho at 10:05 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


Wow, I didn't expect this to genuinely offend so many people. I am coming off of a ten hour bus ride, and am just ready to type. I don't think I am wrong here. Often I make a proposition, read, think, and walk something back to something more reasonable.

I have read these comments, and watched the video and looked at the art. I don't think you get points for being white and rich and male and "trying something". I don't think you get points for having a hobby.

I think the attitude that being an artist denigrates people who spend years working thru something. This idea that everyone is an artist betrays the work of people for whom this is more than a dilettantish hobby. i think that paying attention to therapy or feeling is not paying attention to the work. (I can laud my credentials, but it's not autobiographical)

I think vernacular or outsider work is vital, but Carrey is not an outsider. He is the consumate insider, who is not reading vernacular work well. here is a tradition and an intellectual heritage to those practices that are not just expressionistic. Someone teaches you to sing hymns or makes quilts. You didnt just radically start from this romantic wellspring. There was a rubric. Not everyone was taught to sew either...

Like that's one of the things that makes me angry...it denies the rhetoric of vernacular practice or that mad artists are not making formal choices...that because someone is mad, they cannot be critiqued, in this case the work is never allowed to stand on its own.

I just paint what I feel leads to lazy painting...
posted by PinkMoose at 12:33 AM on August 11 [2 favorites]


As an art-school art-snob, I actually think his work is rather good. He does make some rookie mistakes, like the child with big eyes. And some other choices, like the grid-lines over men in suits, also seem a bit forced.

But the intensity and abandon with which he gives himself to the gestures of applying paint and the aggressive and fanciful color choices are pretty cool. What makes art good is a lack of self-consciousness, a genuine engagement with the process, and an understanding that it has to make visual sense, not literal sense (if you can precisely explain with words why you did something, it is probably not a visual idea but a literal one). In that sense, his work seems to succeed fairly well.
posted by Vispa Teresa at 12:36 AM on August 11 [3 favorites]


The making of art does not belong to all of us.

The making of art belongs to everyone. The public showing of art, particularly with an expectation of praise (for merely expressing yourself) does not.

This statement would not be controversial in reference to music. We are all free to sing in the shower. Some of us should not subject others to our singing.

The difference is that culturally, music is generally well understood. Art is not. Very few of us are able to make a judgment regarding the quality of a work of art, unless we specifically studied the subject, particularly when it comes to modern art.

That is not to say that anyone's taste does not matter or is wrong, it is simply their taste and deserves respect. But there are objective judgments about art that the layperson is generally not equipped to make. (Though some people have a great intuitive understanding of what makes art good, even if they are not schooled in it.)
posted by Vispa Teresa at 12:49 AM on August 11 [3 favorites]


PinkMoose:

"I think the attitude [of] that being an artist denigrates people who spend years working thru something."

Speaking as an artist (of the writer type) who spent years working and refining his craft, I don't feel in the least bit denigrated when someone else, regardless of their demographic laundry list of attributes, decides to try writing. On the contrary, I actively encourage it. Everyone who wants to write has to start. And I am a big fan of people trying to write, i.e., learning how to interrogate their internal thoughts to get them on a page, learning how to arrange and structure ideas, engaging with the language and so on. There are benefits for them as people, and, I dare say, there are benefit for the culture at large. A society which encourages people to create art, whoever they are, and at whatever level their own interest and skill allows, is a society that values art and creativity in general. And this is only to the good.

You know what, look, here's a thing. In a couple of months, Tom Hanks is going to put out a book of short stories. And regardless of quality, that book of short stories by a two-time Oscar winner and one of the most beloved actors of our time is going to be a best seller. It is almost pre-ordained. It's likely that his book of short stories will outsell the book of short stories that I put out this year by a couple orders of magnitude. I, who have work in that book of short stories going back a quarter century, while Hanks, that arriviste, hardly has had anything published before, and then possibly then only because of his name.

How do I feel about Hanks, a rich white male, barging in to my field and almost certainly achieving the best-seller status in one book that many writers spend entire careers never managing to achieve? I feel fine about it. I'm mildly curious about his book, because I like Hanks and his work, and I'd like it to be good because generally I want writers to do good work. But I'm not offended or outraged or annoyed that he's dared to enter my field without, say, getting permission of an august body of literary personages, or without having jumped through a requisite number of hoops. There's no permission to get. That's not how it works.

Beyond that, art generally is not a zero-sum game. The successes of one creator do not limit the ability of others to do their own creating, and sometimes can even help. To return to Hanks for a moment, if his book of short stories is a huge bestseller? Then it means his publisher is flush with cash and can use some of it to buy manuscripts from people who aren't Tom Hanks. In the publishing model we have, best sellers create more books, not suck away opportunities from someone else. The massive success of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series is one reason why my own publisher was able to take a chance on my first books. Shit, JK Rowling essentially created the entire modern YA market. When Hanks' publisher was considering Hanks' book, I assure you that part of the equation there was not just "how many of these will we sell" but also "and what would its success allow us to buy later."

To get back to Carrey, you don't consider him an "outsider" but it certainly does seem you're in a rush to shove him outside. Your arguments here against him boil down to "he's not the right person and he's not doing it for the right reasons and he's not doing it right anyway." You're basically saying that for various reasons, he doesn't have the correct credentials to be considered an artist. Which again, and ironically, is pretty much a great definition of what an "outsider artist" is.

Jim Carrey is making art. Is it art you like? Apparently not. And that's fine. I looked at it too and thought, "yeah, that's not for me." Do you like that he makes art? Also apparently not, and it's also apparent that you very much don't like that someone somewhere is taking his artistic drive seriously and treating his proclamations about his art as anything but a punchline. That's your right and privilege.

But you're on much safer ground, rhetorically and otherwise, to simply say "I don't like Jim Carrey's painting" than to proclaim that only certain people can or should make art, and try to work from there that Mr. Carrey evidently is not one of them. One of these is your entirely unobjectionable opinion; the other is quite evidently contrary to fact. Because in fact the making of art belongs to all of us, and Jim Carrey is, in fact, making art.
posted by jscalzi at 5:56 AM on August 11 [17 favorites]


The bickering in this thread feels like a return to simpler times.
posted by little_dog_laughing at 6:46 AM on August 11 [4 favorites]


This statement would not be controversial in reference to music. We are all free to sing in the shower. Some of us should not subject others to our singing.
I don't think that's actually how music works! There aren't two types of music: music-as-masturbation, which is ok to do in private but would be deeply shameful and perhaps illegal if you got caught doing it in public, and music-as-performance, which involves a person on a stage with a passive audience and which can only be undertaken by people with years of rigorous training. Music is also a communal, participatory activity. I think we see a lot less of that in the modern world than people did in the past, but people still sing in church, and there are attempts, mostly by people on the left who are affiliated with the folk music scene, to bring back the secular community singalong. A friend of mine recently joined a no-audition community choir. She has a perfectly nice voice, but she's not a trained musician and nobody would pay to see her give a solo performance. (Nobody pays to see the community choir perform, either. They do some performances, but the point is mostly to get together and have fun singing.) There are also examples of untrained, technically-terrible musicians making really great music. See above re: punk. It has never been true that music was the preserve of an elite cadre of highly-trained specialists. That's silly.

I don't know. I totally understand that it's galling when people think of art as a spontaneous act of creativity and don't recognize your talent and training. But I actually think that's the wrong way to look at it: people who have seriously tried doing the thing you do are actually probably more likely to recognize true skill and talent than people who have no idea how hard it is.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:50 AM on August 11 [2 favorites]


There are also examples of untrained, technically-terrible musicians making really great music. See above re: punk. It has never been true that music was the preserve of an elite cadre of highly-trained specialists. That's silly.

Visual art is so misunderstood that no one seems to know that exactly this is true for visual art as well. A really good artist doesn't have to be technically trained, they just have to have an intuitive sense of what makes art great. (Which I already mentioned in one of my previous comments.) It's just that that quality of intuitively knowing what good art is is much rarer for visual art than it is for music. (And it is also actively untaught by our culture.)

The technical mastery only matters if one is trying to do a particular type of art that requires it, which is also the same for music: if one wants to play classical music one has to be trained.

I am literally saying that most of the art that is shown, including by many people who fancy themselves as experts, is so bad that it is the equivalent of a tone-deaf person singing hopelessly out of key.
posted by Vispa Teresa at 9:06 AM on August 11 [2 favorites]


This idea that everyone is an artist betrays the work of people for whom this is more than a dilettantish hobby.

If your work is good, surely it does not require that it stand on a pile of bleeding corpses of not-good work to gain its value.

If someone writes really shitty fanfic that gets a pile of positive reviews on one of the fanworks sites, does that betray Wolf Hall or [insert-your-favorite-novel-of-the-last-decade]? How?

I'm well-known amongst my friends for my fussy artistic sensibilities, but I just wasn't aware that there was so much beauty in the world that we needed to shut down whole classes of people from trying to make more of it on the grounds of insufficient seriousness.
posted by praemunire at 9:13 AM on August 11 [2 favorites]


"This idea that everyone is an artist betrays the work of people for whom this is more than a dilettantish hobby."

Dunno; Joseph Beuys dedicated his life to making and teaching art, and also said that "Everyone is an artist," so it feels a bit presumptuous to tell him it was betraying his own talent to approach art the way he did.

"Beyond that, art generally is not a zero-sum game. The successes of one creator do not limit the ability of others to do their own creating, and sometimes can even help."

This seems like a pretty big stretch with Carrey, as the high-end art market is much more of a zero-sum game than publishing, in part because it's fundamentally the opposite of a mass media paradigm.
posted by klangklangston at 10:02 AM on August 11


Yeah, but the current market in high-end contemporary art is barely distinguishable from an investment fraud scheme, so I don't know how invested we need to be in the small group of people hoping to pick up some cash on the margins of that particular scam as opposed to everybody else.
posted by praemunire at 10:05 AM on August 11 [2 favorites]


Art isn't special. It is not something that everyone can do. Some people are writers or queer conceptualists or pornographers or priests. None of those are better or worse than others, none of those are universal. But, for some reason we think that making art is universal. We have had tax lawyers since Hammurabi and we don't write romantic paens to the glory of that...we dont say everyone is a tax lawyer. What happens when we think of the caves of Lascaux as a text about the glories of sheep taxonomy. We dont have celebrities making soft core videos about their long buried desire to taxonomize sheep. We don't force children to take sheep taxonomy lessons in elementary school. We do not make sheep taxonomy or tax law moral categories, or categories of therapeutic improvement. But, apparently, we do this for art.
posted by PinkMoose at 10:18 AM on August 11


Literally, a three-year-old armed with crayons can make a drawing. That's art. A twenty-five-year-old man who didn't finish high school and has been in jail since he was seventeen can speak to a rhythm about his past. That's art. You're the one putting art into a separate, unique, exalted, and frankly drastically under-conceptualized category by suggesting that somehow creation with aesthetic intention isn't enough to qualify.

(As a lawyer, I have never met a single person who practiced tax law for its own sake, or for the sheer joy of it. Non-professionals do not spontaneously attempt to practice tax law. And, to be honest, I've never seen anyone's character improved by its practice, either.)
posted by praemunire at 10:24 AM on August 11 [1 favorite]


Why do you object to it being accessible? And maybe sheep taxonomy therapy could work nicely for sad farmers. And the difference in my estimation is that art allows you to stretch or acquire new skills that translate into other areas of life. Liberal arts education, which no one can afford to do anymore, used to be based on that fact.
posted by LuckyMonkey21 at 10:27 AM on August 11


I am literally saying that most of the art that is shown, including by many people who fancy themselves as experts, is so bad that it is the equivalent of a tone-deaf person singing hopelessly out of key.

Jesus, this reminds me of something that happened this week at band practice - my keyboard player was playing the wrongest of wrong notes, and I was trying to point out that the notes she was playing clashed* with the notes that the bass player was playing, and she said that listening to what the bass player was playing was something she didn't have to do to determine whether what she was playing was right for the song. We had to stop band practice to have a philosophical discussion about whether listening to the other band members was an important part of making our art. And I think her attitude comes out of the whole "Art is for everyone! Everyone can art! Anything choice you make as an artist is okay!" attitude that lots of people are expressing in this thread.

*Before anyone starts in with the whole "But music can clash! Everything is music!" argument - she wasn't able to hear the clash in her choices, and wasn't purposely trying to choose notes that would clash
posted by 23skidoo at 10:33 AM on August 11 [3 favorites]


"Art is a little boy's name."
posted by chavenet at 10:34 AM on August 11


but as barthes says on his essay about twombly a child drawing is not doing so out of a great romantic spelling of universalism, but as a way of working thru a set of formal problems v. repetitive praxis.

i know people who have become accountants and tax attorneys as callings or vocations, and it is something we have been doing as long as writing or drawing, perhaps longer. the earliest writing we have are not hymns to the gods, or to the sun, or to the stars...they are beer inventories. the person who can count beer is as valid as the poet, but we think of the poet as having a deep well spring of romantic longing, and the beer dude as soulless. we think of some kinds of mark making as more valid as others. i have a problem with this.

i am in favour of any kind of mark making, or sheep taxonomizing, or writing, but each of these has a system and a rubric and a rhetoric.

your feelings are not as important as the rubric/rhetoric of a practice. mark making is more impt than puking yr feelings.
posted by PinkMoose at 10:38 AM on August 11 [1 favorite]


[Couple comments removed, maybe let's leave this at agree-to-disagree after several days of back and forth instead of getting more personal. If you've made a few comments in pursuit of your position you've likely made your position as clear as it's gonna be already, and you might be mutually disagreeing with each other in a way that's not gonna change.]
posted by cortex at 10:57 AM on August 11


PinkMoose:

"we dont say everyone is a tax lawyer."

However, what you are doing here is conflating a profession with creative exercise, and those are almost entirely separate enterprises, except for the relatively small common wedge of people whose careers are in a creative field. The vast majority of people who do things creatively -- and even do them in public -- are not professionals in their field (and alas, even those who are professionals in their field often have to be professional in another, often less creative, field in order to eat regularly).

PinkMoose, and this is where I leave it, you seem to want creative endeavors to be in only two categories: Amateur and far away from where anyone can see it other than their creators (thus your "masturbation" bit), or strictly professionalized and credentialized, with some minimum bar of "talent" -- a deeply subjective trait -- to shop one's wares.

And, well. Again: No. You're correct that art isn't special, but you're incorrect in the reason why. Art isn't special because everyone can do it -- it's universally open to anyone. Some will do it better than others, some will make money at it and some will not, but anyone can try their hand at it, for their own pleasure and, possibly, the pleasure of others. Take it from me, an artist of a quarter century's professional standing, who once was the president of an organization of professional artists (and a useful organization at that): None of your protestations to the contrary will stop Jim Carrey from painting, or me from playing the guitar, or (as an example) a tax lawyer from writing a mystery novel in her spare time.

It's going to happen, whether you'd rather it did or not.
posted by jscalzi at 4:17 PM on August 11 [3 favorites]


Making art is like speaking or telling stories or singing or making food. It's a fundamental aspect of being human. Yes, we've come up with standards for what's "good enough" to be considered commercial or worth sharing with strangers, but that's an overlay on something much more basic.

I regret that we don't generally have social singing as a thing anymore. There's something about singing in a group of people who are focused on the experience, not how objectively "good" the performance is, that's deeply moving.
posted by Lexica at 4:46 PM on August 11 [3 favorites]


i feel like you are either purposefully misreading me or i am being unclear.
posted by PinkMoose at 7:54 PM on August 11


This ain't art, this is therapy.

Wow. I know a lot of artists, and I think most would say their art is part therapy. It's certainly not the only art you can make, but it's a valid choice.

I mean, fuck him for his anti-vax bullshit, and he should feel awful because people die because of it. But he's allowed to paint, he's allowed to call himself an artist, he's allowed to make a stupid, overdramatic video about it, too, because he's an actor and probably to him, if you didn't make a film about it, did it really happen?

I'm not sure what's so hard to understand about art being subjective. You don't have to like it for it to be considered art. I mean, if I see a pair of pants I don't like, I'm not gonna say "those aren't pants." Art may not always be as clear cut as pants, but certainly a painting qualifies. It's not like he's hanging a carpet up, taking a picture, and we all have to decide if that's actually a drawing. It's a painting. That can just be a gimme.
posted by greermahoney at 2:46 AM on August 12


i feel like you are either purposefully misreading me or i am being unclear.

The latter.
posted by Lexica at 3:06 PM on August 12


I regret that we don't generally have social singing as a thing anymore. There's something about singing in a group of people who are focused on the experience, not how objectively "good" the performance is, that's deeply moving.

So much this. I've seen signs of hope over the past few years - Sacred Harp singing groups, Pop-Up Chorus in North Carolina and Choir! Choir! Choir! in Toronto. I have a few friends who get together and sing now and then, with beer, and it's fabulous.
posted by bunderful at 4:07 PM on August 12 [2 favorites]


Here's what I think about critique feedback for the less-than-strongest aspiring artists. I witnessed many master-class painting reviews, in my time at RISD, and some visiting superstars would just cut people to the ground, in detail, about why the art they just put in front of us will fail. Lucas Samaras would just rip people to shreds, for instance.

There was another kind of critique, and Barry Gerson, the deconstructionist film-maker or whatever, less of a superstar, but I saw him up close a lot because I was his TA. No matter what kind of lame effort some Brown University elective transfer bro would show, he could find some little interesting thing about it, and he would point that out.

That's the gold standard of critique in my worldview.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:14 PM on August 14 [2 favorites]


"Art isn't special. It is not something that everyone can do. "

Art isn't special. It IS something that everyone can do.

"Some people are writers or queer conceptualists or pornographers or priests. None of those are better or worse than others, none of those are universal. But, for some reason we think that making art is universal."

Those who are writers or queer conceptualists or pornographers or priests can also be artists, either with their profession existing as a subset of "art" or through simultaneously also engaging in artistic practice. Making art is pretty universal.

"We have had tax lawyers since Hammurabi and we don't write romantic paens to the glory of that...we dont say everyone is a tax lawyer."

So? You're making, like, ten different errors here in your reasoning. Humans write romantic paeans to all sorts of things — that we write them to horses doesn't mean anything about artists except that poets (as artists) tend to enjoy writing about themselves. And there are definitely romantic stories about lawyers — attempting an appeal to irrelevant specificity doesn't justify your contention.

"What happens when we think of the caves of Lascaux as a text about the glories of sheep taxonomy."

Archeology? Not really sure you know what your point is with this, but cave art is very much used by archeologists and anthropologists to infer things about fauna.

"We dont have celebrities making soft core videos about their long buried desire to taxonomize sheep. "

Again, you're making an argument of irrelevant specificity here. I guarantee you can find poems about Linnaeus.

"We don't force children to take sheep taxonomy lessons in elementary school."

You're against mandatory 4-H, got it.

"We do not make sheep taxonomy or tax law moral categories, or categories of therapeutic improvement. But, apparently, we do this for art."

Tax law absolutely represents moral claims. Animal husbandry is more than taxonomy, but can be therapeutic without being art.

"And I think her attitude comes out of the whole "Art is for everyone! Everyone can art! Anything choice you make as an artist is okay!" attitude that lots of people are expressing in this thread."

Everyone can art. That doesn't mean any choice you make is OK, or that everyone can be good at art. I don't think you'd argue your keyboardist ceased making music — just that she wasn't making good music at that point.

"but as barthes says on his essay about twombly a child drawing is not doing so out of a great romantic spelling of universalism, but as a way of working thru a set of formal problems v. repetitive praxis. "

A set of formal problems can be art.

"i know people who have become accountants and tax attorneys as callings or vocations, and it is something we have been doing as long as writing or drawing, perhaps longer. the earliest writing we have are not hymns to the gods, or to the sun, or to the stars...they are beer inventories. the person who can count beer is as valid as the poet, but we think of the poet as having a deep well spring of romantic longing, and the beer dude as soulless. we think of some kinds of mark making as more valid as others. i have a problem with this. "

Then you have a problem with contradictions within your own definitions and philosophies.

About the best definition of art that I can muster is that it's aestheticized artificial manipulation of materials. That excludes things like beer ledgers qua ledgers, but not beer brewing. It encompasses craft, which I tend to think of as being able to manipulate materials to achieve a desired aesthetic outcome, while recognizing that there is art that does not require much (if any) craft, or that has craft removed from being the primary concern of the authorial artist, e.g. conceptual, outsourced art like Koons makes. It excludes natural phenomena — the ocean may be beautiful, but it's generally not considered art.

And it fundamentally allows something I think is important: that the manipulation of the materials may be purely mental, or intangible — that something can be treated as art by considering it as art, with the "work" then existing only in the audience's mind.

I think much of your problem comes from not having a clear, descriptive idea of what art is. I might be wrong about where to draw the overall lines, but it gives a much better starting place than complaining that what Carrey does isn't art because art requires some rarified skill.

That helps do things like clear up contradictions where you complain that some mark-making is seen as more valid than others, or the romantic notions attached to "artists." First, you clearly do believe some mark-making is more valid than others, otherwise Carrey wouldn't devalue other artists by being called one. Second, by freeing us from your confused normative notions baked into your incoherent definitions, it allows us to have a more meaningful discussion through common terms. Very rarely when someone criticizes a work by saying "It's not art" do they actually mean it's not art in any defensible sense — they usually mean that they don't like it, or don't think that it's good art. By separating out the question of whether it's art, we can talk about the more interesting question for most pieces: is it any good? Has the artist made choices that help them communicate aesthetic ideas? Do they understand their media? Has it been effective in matching the intent of the artist? Is the piece worth experiencing? I understand that for many people, these questions can seem somehow more fraught, as there's a tendency to fall to de gustibus non disputandum est, and so even smart people can retreat from "Is it good art?" to asserting an authority in declaring that "it's not even art." But that's bullshit, when it comes down to it, and I tend to believe we're all better off with less bullshit about aesthetic judgments, not more.
posted by klangklangston at 7:22 PM on August 16 [3 favorites]


I don't think you'd argue your keyboardist ceased making music — just that she wasn't making good music at that point.

I'd actually argue she wasn't making music, she was making noise.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:03 PM on August 16


What about noise music?
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 4:54 PM on August 17


What about noise music?

Well, noise music is music, so I'd still argue that she wasn't making music, she was making noise.
posted by 23skidoo at 5:54 PM on August 17


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