"Art is the proper task of life."
October 9, 2010 3:33 PM   Subscribe

The Banishment of Beauty (Part 1) "This is part one of a one hour slide presentation I made in Laguna Beach for American Artist's "Weekend With the Masters" event. It deals with the issues as I see them between traditional and "modern" art." (Part 2) (Part 3) & (Part 4).
posted by Fizz (66 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
How charmingly regressive!
posted by stagewhisper at 3:51 PM on October 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


also, thank goodness those starving artists blow-out sales at our local Holiday Inns are doing their part to uphold beauty
posted by stagewhisper at 3:54 PM on October 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's an untutored palate that doesn't enjoy anything bitter, sour or stanky.
posted by fleetmouse at 4:26 PM on October 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


He makes a persuasive argument but there are a few important factors he ignores. The greatest threat to the ability of purely representational art to document the beauty of the world is not the abstract painter, it is the photographer, who in an instant may create in far greater detail a far more accurately representative image of the aesthetically beautiful subject.

Stepping away from accuracy, but staying within representation, we are still surrounded by millions of these pieces of art: Christmas and birthday cards, book covers, T-shirts, cartoons, and posters. Representational art is ubiquitous. Children do it. People trying to explain a concept for some purpose, do it. Perhaps one reason that the art museum doesn't contain much in the way of high-aesthetic representational art, is that it is everywhere else.

One of the classic quotes about modern art is the exchange: "I could do that." "But you didn't." This is true of very many things, not just art. Scott Burdick's own work is very beautiful and very accurate; it is instantly obvious on looking at his work, what the work is supposed to be. Having listened to his analysis of modern art, it is clear that he is intelligent and insightful. If I could speak to him directly, I would give him this advice: if he actually could replicate the results of Mr Brainwash, and make himself a million dollars in a few days, then do it; at that point, his personal resources will be such that his need for popular approval is decoupled from his financial existence.

Furthermore, repeated "scamming" (not strictly accurate; however cynical the motives of the artist, the purchaser sees what they will receive, purchases it, and gets what they paid for) of the deep-pocketed and shallow-minded collectors will do far more to drive down the market for anti-aesthetic abstraction, what Burdick would describe as crap, than would hundreds of exhortative slideshows. These collectors are not interested in the art objects, merely in the perceived economic value they contain. Swindle them again and again, and theoretically they will need to seek a new measure of value, and technical skill is the obvious candidate for that measure. (Arguably this process is now going on and has been for some time, and it doesn't appear that the market has dried up yet ... but it takes a tipping point.)
posted by aeschenkarnos at 5:02 PM on October 9, 2010 [7 favorites]


The art market is too big to fail.
posted by eccnineten at 5:07 PM on October 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


After watching the first video, I'll admit that it's interesting hearing someone attempting to explain why they don't like modern art. He takes as his suppositions that in order to be good, art must have provoke an immediate emotional response, illustrate technical skill, and (bizarrely) be beautiful. Those are certainly valid personal preferences, but they seem to be almost willfully neglecting everything that's happened in the last 100 years in art.He states as a criticism of modern art that most of it is "only an illustration of subtext," but I fail to see why that's a bad thing, except that it makes art (possibly) less accessible.

One way to explain the shift from realism to abstraction is to consider the advent of photography. Before the camera, great technical skill was required to render something realistic. The great technical skill required in abstract art isn't how well you can handle a brush- it's how well you can come up with new ideas. It's easy to say "I could've done that," but the fact is you didn't do that. I'll admit that the field of abstract art is a little crowded with b.s., but keep in mind that it's also a current modality. Surely when impressionism was in vogue, you'd have thousands of no-good works of art floating around. A hundred years sifts out what was truly good from what was merely trash. In 2100, many of the pieces we see crowding our museums will be tossed aside, but Duchamp's Fountain will be lumbering on, asking, "what is art?"
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 5:14 PM on October 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


On not-preview, what aseschenkarnos said.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 5:16 PM on October 9, 2010


Maybe art became less beautiful as beauty itself became more widely disseminated/coopted by the expanding and advertising-based media of the last century? Beauty provokes a direct and exploitable biological response which I, for one, find less engaging than a modern artwork, that requests a bit of analytical unraveling. I can turn on the TV anytime and see a pretty girl; novel, stimulating ideas are somewhat harder to come by.
posted by relooreloo at 5:36 PM on October 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


The mainstream art world is a side show. The worlds most fiscally successful and whose imagery is well known in computer generated art. The television and the computer are the primary mediums for enjoyment of art. Movies and Video Games have not abandoned beauty they have not even begun to embrace modernism.
posted by Rubbstone at 5:43 PM on October 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


To Mr. Burdick: "Cry me a river."
posted by coolxcool=rad at 5:45 PM on October 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


The best and most succinct criticism of 20th century art that I've ever heard was "an excessive concern with formalism is a sign that there's nothing left to be said." That really captures the cold feeling that abstract art leaves me with, including the handwavy and empty jargon-laden explanations about "questioning" and "subverting" and "including the viewer". When you've got nothing to talk about but yourself, you've got nothing left to say.

Of course, reducing 20th century art to "an excessive concern with formalism" is such a narrow criticism of such a broadly experimental period that it amounts to a strawman.
posted by fatbird at 5:56 PM on October 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


The worlds most fiscally successful and whose imagery is well known in computer generated art.

First define 'art'.

Secondly, I'm guessing that advertising and branding graphics are probably *way* more successful, both in terms of fiscal revenues and brand recognition. How is the Nike Swoosh or the Coca Cola logo not abstract?

Movies and Video Games have not abandoned beauty they have not even begun to embrace modernism.


You don't watch enough movies.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:04 PM on October 9, 2010


Sneery crap. I stopped it at the "poorly executed" part. Anybody in 2010 who judges painting on "execution" is not worth listening to and doesn't understand painting. Zorn and Bouguereau obsessives.

Painting in its original function was rendered obsolete. Some painters adapted, some didnt. There is merit in both pathways.

Scott Burdicks paintings
posted by fire&wings at 6:35 PM on October 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ditto on the "charmingly regressive!", but maybe without the charm? It seemed like almost-tea-party-ish, self-marginalized, rehashed culture war crap (did you hear the line about public funding? ridiculous!). Funnily enough, rather than seeming like an attempt to summon up all the strength of the western tradition, the lecture read to me like the wrong kind of bitterness about not being included in the canon (e.g., his tone immediately reminded me of a guy I met my freshman year of college who was basically trying to convince me that the culmination of the western canon was David Eddings).

I basically agree with the responses above--I would only add that I think this video is really about how a certain class of people cannot connect to art that they associate with high class values. I think it makes more sense to watch this video less alongside Clement Greenberg than with Pierre Bourdieu and his discussions about how many of the values of high art (such as abstraction) are associated with high-class culture. I mean, I obviously disagree with this video but most of my trips to a gallery are total disappointments because it's obvious that I'm getting a tour of high-end commodities. Looking at a container ship of oil might be more honest and interesting.

I could only get through five minutes of the lecture without barfing, but it seemed like he essentially sets up a straw-man (abstract vs representational) that is itself more of a '50s modern art thing than a dichotomy people really think about now. I've never heard an artist use this dichotomy. A lot of art stars are, in his terms, representationalist, like Kara Walker, John Currin, Chuck Close, etc. I mean, he even uses a slide of Gerhard Richter--who in addition to painting abstract works, also painted politically interesting portraits that were considerably more "realist" than Scott Burdick's stuff!

I can't vouch for the accuracy or inaccuracy of David Hockney's recent book about the camera lucida, but he basically sees the academic painters of the early twentieth century as the equivalent of bad photoshop hacks (this is my analogy, not his), by arguing that all of their vaunted photorealism was accomplished by the period equivalent of tracing over a slide projector. I think it might be useful to look at Burdick and his buds in that tradition, not in the tradition of Sargent, Whistler, et al. It's worth noticing that, like many of the academic painters, his paintings have no mise en scene--there's no background painted in any of his "realist" paintings that could connect them to a political or social reality. The realist art of the past wasn't just about painting a horse that looked like a horse, but about embedding narrative, creating complicated diagrams of meaning, and a lot of other stuff that Burdick doesn't seem interested in. He gives realism a bad name!

Again this is only based on five minutes of the video and clicking around his site for a few seconds!
posted by johnasdf at 7:09 PM on October 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


The art market is too big to fail.

I worked for an art publisher that rode the ’80s boom and then went completely bust when the art market cratered in the early ’90s.
posted by stargell at 7:09 PM on October 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dude, I jumped randomly to another video and I couldn't take more than one minute, nine seconds--viewing of this video could be used as a torture device in elite art circles. Lowbrow and condescending at the same time!
posted by johnasdf at 7:13 PM on October 9, 2010


I could only get through five minutes of the lecture without barfing...

I watched and listened to 20 minutes of it before deciding "enough". You were smarter.

It seems as though Burdick has his personal likes and has gone about constructing an argument to justify that like. Whatever, like what you want to like, but please don't think it's some universal truth.
posted by nomadicink at 7:27 PM on October 9, 2010


Movies and Video Games have not abandoned beauty they have not even begun to embrace modernism.

You don't watch enough movies.

And video games aren't art! Ha! Damn I slay.

But seriously, the one medium that hasn't had its modernist period is TV. Yeah it's dabbled and flirted but it hasn't had the chance to fully embrace it. Which is why I proclaim it the only artistic medium that's still alive and why I'm so obsessed with it.

But really what I want to say is this. When I first began my formal music studies in college I was all about Baroque and the Spanish Romantics. Cage, Schoenberg, Glass, etc. were all charlatans at worst and nutso at best. And then something happened toward the end of my first semester of Music Theory. I realized that the rules that defined what was beautiful music vs. what was ugly were arbitrary. Not arbitrary as in random, nor arbitrary as in denying that we have various physiological responses to various intervals and what have you, but arbitrary in that you could consciously choose to like or dislike any piece of music you wanted. Who controls your likes and dislikes when it comes to art? The objects themselves or your own conscious choices? This realization was my first step to exploring the great unknown of Modernism. That wasn't the end of my musings re: art, but it was how I got over my initial prejudices.

So when buddy here talks about "beauty" all I can think is that it's all beautiful and what's your problem with that?
posted by bfootdav at 7:43 PM on October 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


First define 'art'.

Secondly, I'm guessing that advertising and branding graphics are probably *way* more successful, both in terms of fiscal revenues and brand recognition. How is the Nike Swoosh or the Coca Cola logo not abstract?
No.

I suppose one could say that when you buy Nike and Coke that the shoes and the drink are just what you get as a byproduct of seeking the brand experience. I wouldn't buy that though. When you buy those brands you ultimately get something usable. Your point is well taken branding is the most well known art in the world. I'm just not sure it has any effect if your product is not good and people don't pay for it alone.

You don't watch enough movies.


What if I had watched all of the ones that came out this year. How many would be modernist?
posted by Rubbstone at 7:47 PM on October 9, 2010


Scott Burdick's paintings

I was surprised not to see any seashore scenes, at first, then I saw this picture. Yay! Seashore scenes!
posted by octobersurprise at 9:21 PM on October 9, 2010


The best thing to do with "modern art" galleries or people who endorse them is simply to ignore them; they are leeching off academic and government funding that will hopefully soon evaporate, while real art continues to sell to real people.
posted by shii at 9:38 PM on October 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dear hater of "modern" art,

Good news! The art world got over its "modern" phase a good 40 years ago.

Sincerely,

Oh Shut Up Already
posted by Sys Rq at 9:50 PM on October 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Anybody in 2010 who judges painting on "execution" is not worth listening to

I'm not particularly knowledgeable about painting, but boy howdy is that a judgment I would hate to hear rendered by anyone knowledgeable in the fields of endeavor I participate in or observe closely (let's say poetry, programming, or music, just frex).
posted by brennen at 10:22 PM on October 9, 2010


Anybody in 2010 who judges painting on "execution" is not worth listening to

"Execution" does not equal "Accurate Rendering of Nature" or "Technical Proficiency."

Does it do what it says on the tin? (In this scene, the role of The Tin will be played by an artist's statement.) If yes, it's well executed.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:04 PM on October 9, 2010


In the first minute he says "Dewing's paintings in particular are full of emotion."

A good friend of mine, who is perhaps the most talented, intelligent and committed-to-his-work artist I know, and who does a lot of kinds of art but mostly performance and conceptual, once said something I'd never thought of before: the feeling of an abstract (or conceptual, or any other not-obviously-emotive mode) work of art is located in the choice the artist made to do it, and what that means.

This is directly related to the exchange aeschenkarnos mentioned above: One of the classic quotes about modern art is the exchange: "I could do that." "But you didn't." Inherent in this idea is that both the spectator (for lack of a better word) and the artist understand that the artist is working within a specific tradition, and both the spectator and the artist understand what the artist's choice means within that tradition.

It is absolutely correct to read this type of exchange as one that is less about stimulus-response-type hardcoded reveling in "the beautiful" than it is about appreciating what someone is saying in the context of a broader public conversation. However, I think it would be wrong to think that this model of art appreciation is confined to the relatively abstruse "high" art conversation. To a certain degree, appreciating a work of art for what it's saying in the context of its contemporary conversation has probably always been present for at least some audiences and some artists; or at least since an "artist's artist" or a "poet's poet" has been a thing, which I take to be a while.

Furthermore, in the present day, the artwork as statement is a huge part how "tracks" in the indie music scene are perceived and judged. Read any Pitchfork review to understand what I'm talking about. Typically, the writer will spend at a bare minimum 50% of their word count on the track's cultural context; often closer to 80% or 90%. Even when they talk about the track's sonic qualities, the appreciation is less often about the "beauty" (or something conceptually similar) of the tone or the beat, but about how they appreciate the choice the musician made to, for example, counterpoise acoustic guitar strumming with a field recording of a freeway over a glitch beat. All of those elements, like the techniques of works of modern art, are not technically challenging; anyone can strum a guitar, anyone can go out and record a freeway; anyone can make a glitch beat. It's the decision to combine these elements that's discussed and appreciated (or not—in this case, if someone combined the elements I've described here, it would be written off as "totally 2001" (cf, eg, The Books, Fennesz)). Of course, the emotional gestalt of the whole thing is important, and discussed, and evaluated also, but a large component of that gestalt is what the work is saying in the context of the contemporary indie music conversation.

Interestingly, and importantly, this indie music conversation is totally popular and mainstream. Which, to my mind, makes any charge that this way of appreciating art is only the refuge of the rarefied gallerist false on its face. Artwork-as-entrant-in-larger-conversation as a mode of art consumption has in fact, through indie music, completely saturated the culture. Which makes a lot of sense, since, "tracks" (the fundamental unit of the medium) are, as a rule, radically less labour-intensive than say, paintings or novels (or even most short stories), and the immediate appeal of their affective aspect (they're almost always, aside from being a smart statement, designed to sound good as music, unlike the more abstract strains of art music) makes them more readily consumable than "high" abstract art of the kind this guy complains about, which, while easily produced, tended not to be enjoyable on a visceral level, unlike tracks. Add to that the fact of the incredible convenience of obtaining pretty much all recorded music, and you have the perfect conditions for an explosion of music as concept and performance art—track as statement—which is what I'd say we've been witnessing for the last decade or so.
posted by skwt at 11:10 PM on October 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


But seriously, the one medium that hasn't had its modernist period is TV.

Um... 1950's television was wall-to-wall Modernism. (Levitt's suburbia? Modernism!)
posted by Sys Rq at 11:16 PM on October 9, 2010


You can probably read between the lines, but I should've clarified in my first line, if you didn't watch the video: Dewing is an old-school realist, and Burdick contrasts his "emotional" art with what he implies is cold, cerebral abstract art.

FWIW, I do agree with his implication that artist's statements are bullshit.

For me a distinction more relevant to the current moment in art than "abstract" or "representational" is that between "art-art" and what I provisionally and oversimplifiedly called "life-art" here.
posted by skwt at 11:25 PM on October 9, 2010



One of the classic quotes about modern art is the exchange: "I could do that." "But you didn't." This is true of very many things, not just art

Yes, it certainly is a pithy quote. Let's look at the "art" aspect of it first. Okay, so X artist is a genius for throwing some splashes on a canvas and claiming that it represents "the new world order," or what have you , and that the rest of us just aren't cerebral enough to "get it." Might there be a another reason beyond "we're all too stupid to have done so?" Of course there is.

The subjectivism inherent in art, which has increased and increased ever since there was such a thing as "art," kind of dug the grave of art. I would say (and by no means am I 100% on this) that the Impressionists started it, with all the unreal-yet-real representations. From there, it's a short step to "Well, what I see is this! You can't dare claim that this isn't brilliant, for to do so would be to claim your unlimited ignorance of the creative mind! Now subsidize me, because I am making a brilliant social statement with my random splatters!" And of course, people will do so because to be thought a philistine would be *horrid* next time said donor has to appear before other "forward" thinkers.

As far as the "not just art," you know what I think is one of the most beautiful landmarks around my area? It's the oil refinery. And this is where the "I could do that!" starts to break down. Any one of us could probably splash some random colors on canvas, but any one of us could not, ever, even come close to imagining the engineering it would take to build a factory that is almost a mile long. It's not traditionally "beautiful" in the sense that it's not a leafy wood or a hilly vista, but it is indeed gorgeous. People thought about this! And they thought enough about it to make it not only functional, but really aesthetically awesome as well.

So that's where the "But you didn't" argument breaks down. Anyone who's really, truly done something that any of the rest of us couldn't have done is probably never going to hear that statement directed at them.
posted by deep thought sunstar at 11:39 PM on October 9, 2010


What a preposterously narrow, elitist, cynical, argument as to what art/beauty should be. How is it possible that that "aesthetic beauty" in art be so exclusive?

His statement that: "If you don't feel anything when looking at a painting, it is a failure..."
and that many modern art/artist aren't aiming for beauty is purely speculative resentful drivel. It makes no consideration whatsoever between the personal connection an individual makes with a specific piece of art.

Any work be it poorly or masterfully rendered can be evocative, and therefore beautiful.
posted by onkelchrispy at 12:43 AM on October 10, 2010


The greatest threat to the ability of purely representational art to document the beauty of the world is not the abstract painter, it is the photographer, who in an instant may create in far greater detail a far more accurately representative image of the aesthetically beautiful subject.

Not at all true. Goldie's paintings of Maori are far better than photographs because the layering of oil on canvas does a far better job of depicting classical moko technique, where the moko is chiselled into the skin, that photographs do.

What a preposterously narrow, elitist, cynical, argument...purely speculative resentful drivel

The funny thing is that most of the elitist, cynical, resentful drivel discussing art in New Zealand comes from proponents of modern (and later) art who get incredibly upset that a realist like Goldie is still more popular with the general population than whatever they happen to be advocating for this year.
posted by rodgerd at 1:21 AM on October 10, 2010



Any work be it poorly or masterfully rendered can be evocative, and therefore beautiful.


Well, actually, this attitude is the problem. If it's poorly rendered, it's not going to evoke jack-shit, but people will still pretend that it does. Poorly done work is not evocative, and if it were, it wouldn't be poorly done. The personal connection doesn't make it "art," nor, especially, does it make for "good art." A five-year-old has a "personal connection" to the picture that his parents hang on the fridge, but does that mean that kid is an "artist?" No.
posted by deep thought sunstar at 1:21 AM on October 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


The sad thing is that the tone and attitude of this self righteously small minded monologue is precisely the status quo of the music world (substitute "tonal" for "representational" etc.)
posted by idiopath at 1:34 AM on October 10, 2010


Eh ... I think I'm with Burdick on this one ... the emperor has no clothes.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:17 AM on October 10, 2010


OK, I baled after the first video. Was going to watch them all before commenting, but he got that far without mentioning what aeschenkarnos said: photography happened. And without that observation, I can't see how you can start on any useful examination of non-representational art as a whole. So, I'm guessing that I'm not going to get that useful examination, and I decline (perhaps erroneously, but ya gotta make these calls) to so spend time that could be spent drinking a pint of beer.

(Did he mention Turner? I'll bet another pint of beer that he doesn't.)

Art is communication, and as Claude Shannon codified - you can't have communication without rules and context. The difference between information and noise is the frame it comes in. The same is true of language: unless you know the rules of the language, the noises it encodes remain just noise.

What Burdick is saying is ideas expressed in different languages to the one you grew up speaking are ipso facto not worth having. Clearly, he is very fluent in one language and values that fluency highly. I admire fluency too, although it can easily disguise a lack of thought - and, worse, it can be an enemy of thought: speak fluently to people's emotions, and you are far more persuasive than if you talk with their reason.

Photography democratised and industrialised fluency in representation, and thus changed what fluency meant in art. If you care about art, that's an incredibly significant step - artists are no longer the exclusive gatekeepers of visual memory. What is there to communicate, that makes one an artist, that matters?

Turns out, there's an awful lot - about the nature of perception, cognition and aesthetics, and at a time when science and culture as a whole is turning to those questions as worthy of examination. The obvious world - of physics, and of our own lives and identity - turns out to be more skin than body. There's a challenge.

Kick off with Dada and surrealism, and the great debate about Dali. A fluent artist who conjured up mesmerising juxtapositions but didn't seem to be saying much - whereas (to pick someone also known outside arty circles) Magritte was also fluent, apparently much more bourgeois and made much more mundane art. Yet Magritte's simple statements are much more profound and unsettling than Dali's in-yer-face cognitive anarchy. He'll lead you on into some very interesting places: once you've seen a Dali, most of the time, there's nowhere really to go next.

You learn to walk past Dali, and you step through the other frame. And you start to learn a new language - and with that learning, start finding beauty and ugliness and how to differentiate between them in that new language. You get "a-ha" moments, and you get a lot more beauty.

Not worth having, Burdick? Is art to be limited to what teenagers think pretty?

For me, the most recent "a-ha" moment came about five years ago, with Pollock. Couldn't get him for ages - no way in. Someone I worked with a while ago was an art historian by training and inclination (he was in sales, and very unhappy - unhappier than I realised at the time. Another story.) so I asked him WTF is it with that guy? He said that Pollock painted emotional states. Thanks, mate. Still looked like an unwholesome, incomprehensible mess to me. But it niggled.

Then, one day, I was in Tate Modern (close enough to where I work that I can pop in for half an hour at lunchtime, which of course I almost never do), and looking from under a furrowed brow at a Pollock. Let my eye follow the loops of paint, scramble through the splatters, skip from colour to colour... and I began to feel something familiar. Broken rhythms, discordant jumps, but all with an undeniable, driving, rumble of a coherent push. I found that if I looked at the painting with the same mind as I listen to music, it snapped into context. And Pollock was communicating with me - not just emotion, but the roiling storms of emotion, as it changes and wrestles with whatever other parts of myself make me, me.

There's no going back from that sort of perception, but it got me a little closer to a better understanding of what it is to be human, and thus a little better at understanding others. I value that.

(Yes, I know. Don Van Vliet. Twenty years a Beefheart fan, and I didn't even notice. So sue me.)

And it's the complete denial that such things exist and matter, that makes me saddest about the Burdicks of this world. I presume he became such a facile painter because he had a natural aptitude, and then worked very hard to improve his technique. That's good, that's how you do good things. But he then decries others who take a different path, who learn a different language, because they don't speak like he does - regardless of whether they've worked hard at doing what they do, and whether they're saying things that others find worth understanding. And that may discourage others from following such paths, or even noticing they exist.

It's not as if representational art is in any way under threat - any more than marriage is under threat from teh gheys. Burdick is raucously defending something that is in absolutely no need of defence, by way of attacking something that in no way threatens him.

One wonders, as one always wonders. What is it that he is so scared of?
posted by Devonian at 5:17 AM on October 10, 2010 [15 favorites]


Then, one day, I was in Tate Modern (close enough to where I work that I can pop in for half an hour at lunchtime, which of course I almost never do), and looking from under a furrowed brow at a Pollock. Let my eye follow the loops of paint, scramble through the splatters, skip from colour to colour... and I began to feel something familiar. Broken rhythms, discordant jumps, but all with an undeniable, driving, rumble of a coherent push. I found that if I looked at the painting with the same mind as I listen to music, it snapped into context. And Pollock was communicating with me - not just emotion, but the roiling storms of emotion, as it changes and wrestles with whatever other parts of myself make me, me.

This.

I did not understand Pollock until I was confronted with one of his works at the Getty a few years back. I was overwhelmed by the scale, the sheer energy that was thrown in my face. It felt like a type of voluntary artistic mind rape and I walked away drained.

I posted this lecture because I had a feeling it would stimulate some interesting discussion. I do not agree with how he views art history and the various movements, but it is thought provoking.
posted by Fizz at 5:49 AM on October 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality - Picasso
posted by adamvasco at 6:02 AM on October 10, 2010


I posted this because a friend of mine shared the links on a forum we frequent. This is what he had to say regarding the video and the lecture. I personally do not agree with my friend but I thought his argument might stir up some interesting discussion. Again, not my views. Feel free to go nuts.

There is a deliberate exclusion of a large majority of contemporary art in published books about contemporary art. Artwork that is created by artists that are traditionally trained are not included. They are not exhibited on museum walls. This is because when they are the public responds very favorably and that is precisely the kind of response that those in power don't want.

We have come to a place where we applaud incompetence and abhor beauty and quality. Movies that have happy endings are ridiculed as "fluff" and if there isn't anger, horror, hostility, crude abilities, etc., it is considered superfluous by critic's standards. They have removed beauty and positive content from their artistic diets and left themselves only ugliness and despair. If that is all that you allow your soul to be fed then you will only be moved by the negative and reject the positive. This is where we are. It is a very "1940's beatnik through 2010 emo type of attitude" where it seems that certain people "are only happy when they're sad". That's the Kool-aid that has been fed to the world.

What is being advocated by Scott Burdick is not a total exclusion of the "coffee table book artists" of the last century, but rather a broader scope of what is out there. Traditional realist artists are deliberately excluded from college art programs and museum collections in the same way that all references to people of color were deliberately removed from the scriptures (much of this exists in the Kabra Nagaste, the additional holy book of the Rastafarians) or the truth behind American slavery and how wars were started from our history books. They are the keepers of the flame and the must hold onto a narrow view of art and all those that don't comply are made to feel stupid and uneducated. What is being advocated is to let the people see what's out there and what's been out there. Not just spoon feed them selected types of art that secure your own view. Because that is what has happened.

Shock art, Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism, Conceptualism, etc. are all part of the "establishment elite" and are ideas that are as tired and unrewarding now as the narrow "art pompier" of the 19th century was in their time. It is time for us to stand and make people aware that the emperor is naked!

posted by Fizz at 6:35 AM on October 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is seriously a bit thick when it's coming from an artist in an art colony whose main crowd-drawing event is the "Pageant of the Masters", where lots of money is paid by a lot of tourists to view some trite tableaux vivant of a lot of tired, famous old paintings, year after year. I'm pretty convinced that the sort of people who are serious fans of Pageant of the Masters actively hate art.

It's also a bit hard to swallow since his own portraiture is heavily Impressionist and abstracted in execution. He's no Classicist. What he's doing is also technically post-photography modern art.

Laguna is also headquarters of Wyland. Yeah, the guy that paints the hyperreal whale schmutz.

But I could also see how Burdick would start to loathe modern art if he doesn't get out of Laguna Beach or Orange County very often. Laguna is drowning in bad modern art of the sort that's bought and sold to match very expensive couches. The very sort of art whose main qualities are listed something like "Well, it's titled Antares IV and it's expensive. It's red, it's shiny and it looks weird but not offensive and it comes in a matching set of two - one for either side of your couch."

Maybe there's quirky, unique pockets of Laguna Beach left, but the last time I was down there was over a decade ago and even back then as far as I could see all the little coffee shops, surfers, dope smoking hippies and VW microbuses had all been replaced by $100 an entree concept restaurants, overpriced art galleries and Lexus SUVs. And a whole lot of McMansions. Maybe the weirdos all grew up and became those recidivist lizard-people, I don't know. All I know is I was feeling not at home in a place that used to be home.

Time is a bitch. I technically went to my first nightclubs and raves at Club Post Nuclear in Laguna Canyon. The first open mic poetry night I ever attended was in the cafe and bookstore Fahrenheit 451.

Sorry, I'm derailing and tangenting. I'm rankled and irritated that some C-grade portrait painter is dissing modern art from my old home turf, where I used to see and experience real art. He seems to be a part of the problem, not a solution or answer.
posted by loquacious at 6:52 AM on October 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Traditional realist artists are deliberately excluded from college art programs and museum collections in the same way that all references to people of color were deliberately removed from the scriptures (much of this exists in the Kabra Nagaste, the additional holy book of the Rastafarians) or the truth behind American slavery and how wars were started from our history books.

JEWS DID MONDRIAN
posted by fleetmouse at 7:19 AM on October 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


"I could do that." "But you didn't."

I feel this kind of argument is weak in various ways.

For one, does "do that" refer to the production of the art itself, or becoming famous or popular because of that art? These are two quite separate issues.

If the "do that" means to become successful in the art world, producing the art is not enough. Like in any other arena, artistic success is not simply about talent or ability, craft or skill. It's also about convincing the people around you that what you are doing is worthwhile, valuable, and hopefully, unique or special.

I know plenty of people who are far more artistic than world-renowned artists, but they lack the desire, motivation, ambition, networking talent, audacity, confidence, charisma, social connections, capital, free time, supportive community, understanding of viral marketing, business acumen, organizational skills, fashion sense, ability to hold their drink at cocktail parties, wittiness, mysteriousness, "window on the street", black square-framed glasses, or any number of other factors that allow someone to actually "do that."

So, you may be able to throw splatters of paint around on a canvas and even come up with something indistinguishable from an authentic Jackson Pollack, but that doesn't mean you've "done it." Not even close.
posted by jet_manifesto at 7:24 AM on October 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


The greatest threat to the ability of purely representational art to document the beauty of the world is not the abstract painter, it is the photographer, who in an instant may create in far greater detail a far more accurately representative image of the aesthetically beautiful subject.

Yeah, just like no one's interested in hearing good, old-fashioned musical virtuosity any more now that machine assisted performers can do it better than any solo human could. Fail.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:24 AM on October 10, 2010


If a box must be ticked, I'm an artist whose work would fall within the realist/academic/representational side of things. Consequently, this debate is an old one for me. I understand where Scott Burdick is coming from with this video, and with his work in general, I think. It's pretty weak that everytime this kind of debate comes up around here, buckets of snarky invective get dumped on the guy posting it, or represented in the post. He would've done better to paint guillermo del toro reading Lovecraft aloud. The tone would've been far different. Not a bad idea for a painting actually.

It's all fucking subjective. Someone thinks my favorite artist sucks, as well as my favorite band, author, filmmaker. This fact changes absolutely nothing to me about the artists that I love and admire. All of the debate in the world alters nothing regarding matters of subjectivity.
posted by Hickeystudio at 9:33 AM on October 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


First, I say this as someone who has often rolled my eyes so hard it hurt when reading modern "artist statements," and as someone who has often walked through modern art museums thinking "jeebus what a load of crap." BUT - Mr. Burdick is pathetic. The gigantic chip on his shoulder that reeks through his reading in the first video is almost hilarious. (And I must admit here I only made it through the first video, but I think it was enough to convince me I don't need to hear the rest.)

What he's espousing here is exactly the kind of attitude that kept Monet and the Impressionists out of the official salons of 19th century Paris. And yet - are not Monet and the Impressionists "beautiful"? Indeed, if his entry into "what is beautiful" begins with a group of teenagers, then judging by the sheer number of Monet reproduction posters hanging on the walls of college girls' dorm rooms, Monet is the most beautiful painter, ever. But in his own time, Monet was "shoddy workmanship" - he was "poor execution," "amateurish technique." We've not even reached 1900 yet and Burdick's thesis is already on seriously shaky ground.

I think many other comments above are very right about photography taking over the function of the reproduction of "reality," which is partly what drove painting in other directions. If all you want is a visual portrait of someone, or something, a photograph will generally do it better. But is that really all that "realist" art ever actually was? I don't think so. Look even at some of the works Burdick chooses to include as masterpieces of 19th century realism - human figures, yes, but not strictly "portraits" with only the aim of recreating reality. Human figures posed and painted within scenes of myth, story, and history - there is symbolism going on there. They're not just "pretty paintings," the artist, by his choices of scene, style, and pose is actually saying something. It's not all about the technique and the craft, there is actual content. In this regard, Burdick strikes me as someone who's spent so much time honing craft and technique that he forgot to ever think about having something to say. A lot of "what" and "how," but no "why." And as that's no route to artistic fame and fortune, he's mentally dug himself into that mental bunker and constructed an aesthetic philosophy that of course turns his failings into virtues, and everyone else's virtues into frauds.

And he's also wrong about beauty being banished from modern art. Just for starters, Constantin Brancusi. If you really don't think his sculptures are "beautiful" then I just don't know what else I could say to you. They're absolutely gorgeous - and they're extremely abstract. "Bird In Space" only barely "represents" the bird, instead it's flight itself made visible and solid. Probably my favorite is "Leda," in which two smooth abstract forms combine into a shape that, depending on which way you view it, shows either a kneeling woman or a swan.

When people like Burdick rail against modern art as ugly or unfeeling, they're often just exasperated that a lot of it seems to dwell on the sad or angry or depressing subjects of life. And, y'know, I understand that. I really understand and relate to the desire for the uplifting and the positive in art. But I firmly believe that this does not at all require a retrograde imposition of 19th century aesthetics - that leads us into Thomas Kincade "Painter of Light" territory. We can expand our notions of beauty, of what art is and what it's "proper" subjects are. Teenagers can gape at a 19th century nude and say "that's, like, beautiful" and little children can gleefully run around the huge forms of Richard Serra's "Wake" and they don't need to know aesthetic theory to enjoy it.
posted by dnash at 9:48 AM on October 10, 2010 [2 favorites]



Poorly done work is not evocative, and if it were, it wouldn't be poorly done.
Perhaps I should have said 'crudely' rendered as it would have been a more accurate description to the point I was making, but even so you contradict the first part of your argument with the second.

The personal connection doesn't make it "art," nor, especially, does it make for "good art."

What?! You yourself said you find a factory beautiful, and you cite reasons why you find it gorgeous. Art is about communication and a piece having a certain impact on a viewer. According to you, any piece of "art" or "good art" is rendered obsolete because the the viewers connection to any particular work is not valid. Well...then why bother? Why should anyone waste their time trying to create anything? Let's hang static pieces of 'non-art' in museums and gallery for nobody to look at or formulate any opinions on what they find to be aesthetically pleasing or beautiful or evocative of a certain feeling/emotion.

If it's poorly rendered, it's not going to evoke jack-shit, but people will still pretend that it does.
How can you possibly pretend know this as truth? It is a purely cynical and narrow supposition.

A five-year-old has a "personal connection" to the picture that his parents hang on the fridge, but does that mean that kid is an "artist?" No.
Yes, it does.
posted by onkelchrispy at 9:55 AM on October 10, 2010


JEWS DID MONDRIAN

GOOGLE HELENA BLAVATSKY
posted by Sys Rq at 10:22 AM on October 10, 2010


Everybody gets their say when it comes to art in part because art is subsidized to so massive an extent. It may not have the highest percentage of public subsidy (is there a single poet who makes a living in the for-profit sector?) but in gross amount of public university salaries, vast tax-exemption investments in museum real estate and donations to private universities and foundation, I don't think there's anything more firmly fixed to the public teat.

I'll take a thousand annoying hipster musicians and music critics' bloviating gladly before I'll tolerate a single artist lambasting flyover tastes or politics. Say what you will about Pitchfork or indie labels and venues and their oft-obnoxious proprietors, they're making it happen on their own frickin' dime.
posted by MattD at 10:42 AM on October 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's all fucking subjective. Someone thinks my favorite artist sucks, as well as my favorite band, author, filmmaker. This fact changes absolutely nothing to me about the artists that I love and admire. All of the debate in the world alters nothing regarding matters of subjectivity.

Oh, I don't know. One can have one's mind changed permanently in favor of or against an artist if the case can be made persuasively. What Mencken called making prejudice plausible. I've gone off a given musician or writer or painter because of one or two well placed and pointed observation on their work. And contrariwise, though it takes a little longer, human nature being what it is.

By the way, the Roger Scruton's Why Beauty Matters can be viewed here
posted by IndigoJones at 11:44 AM on October 10, 2010


Okay, I didn't want to have to go there, but his work is not very good in relation to contemporary practicing artists who work representationally and aspire reach the level of the great masters. It's fairly well-executed technically, at least according to historical conventions (western conventions, many of which don't have a whole lot to do with objective beauty, but are a language that is learned just like the languages of modern and contemporary art) but shmaltzy bordering on kitsch.

His lack of success is not attributable to some plot to devalue beauty or banish representational art from the contemporary cannon. He really needs to get out more. Artists who can paint at his level are a dime a dozen in the NYC area. He should take a trip to The Art Students League which is filled with students cranking out this same level and style of work, or if he'd like to set his sights a little higher, visit the Graduate Program at The New York Academy of Art.

Since you put it out there Fizz, I have to respond to this particularly wrongheaded statement from your friend:

There is a deliberate exclusion of a large majority of contemporary art in published books about contemporary art. Artwork that is created by artists that are traditionally trained are not included. They are not exhibited on museum walls. This is because when they are the public responds very favorably and that is precisely the kind of response that those in power don't want.

This is insane tinfoil hat territory. How many books about contemporary art has he even *seen*? There are a million and one books out there dealing with every kind of genre, history, movement, topic, critical theory, and so on. Yes, I would agree that a large majority of contemporary art has been deliberately excluded. It's called editing. Also, the majority of contemporary art being produced is not good enough to warrant inclusion regardless of its style or genre. As to the argument that the reason why this work is not included is because the pubic responds favorably I can only say OH YES HAH HAH HAH the way for the faltering publishing industry and struggling museums to recover is to make sure that whatever they are providing is exactly not what the audience wants.

Traditional realist artists are deliberately excluded from college art programs and museum collections in the same way that all references to people of color were deliberately removed from the scriptures (much of this exists in the Kabra Nagaste, the additional holy book of the Rastafarians) or the truth behind American slavery and how wars were started from our history books. They are the keepers of the flame and the must hold onto a narrow view of art and all those that don't comply are made to feel stupid

Alright, now this is truly offensive. It's also wrong, wrong, wrong. It's an admissions requirement at most of the top art schools in the country that the applicants provide examples of their ability to draw from life (not photographs) and to exhibit basic mastery of traditional skills. This is known as the basics, and saying otherwise makes me suspect that your friend does not realize that a lot of the artists producing work that he so vehemently dislikes already mastered tradition technique at a pretty competent level before deciding that this pursuit in itself was a dead end for them creatively. Moreover, to compare painters who work in realist traditions (the majority of artists are already a privileged group) to victims of institutional racism just....ugh....I have no words.

Finally, the field of contemporary art has been blown wide open. There's room for everyone and everything at the table. The Art Market has little to do with art, and to judge the quality of the work by what speculators will pay for something makes little sense.

The fact that Burdick would like to make the art world adhere to his rigid, conformist idea of quality grates. There are lots of contemporary representational painters working today who are well-received by the powers that be. I have studied with some of them, am friends with others. Without fail, they appreciate good art of all kinds- abstract, performative, conceptual, social, and so on. I suspect this openness to other ideas and approaches is part of why their work is far more successful than his.

Some examples :

John Currin

Jenny Saville

Lucia Freud

Gergard Richter

Lisa Yuskavage

Marilyn Minter

Neo Rauch

Alyssa Monks

Julie Heffernan

Barnaby Whitfield
posted by stagewhisper at 12:06 PM on October 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Recently Burdick was asked by American Artist magazine to be a presenter/workshop teacher at "Weekend with the Masters" (not to be confused with the Laguna Beach plein air competition, it is obviously held near the same time and place in an effort to reach plein air artist/enthusiasts). Everyone attending the "Weekend with the Masters" was sure to be the type who exalts the resurgence of realism...so this presentation was specially geared toward them (and he had to be preaching to the choir).

Here is the interesting part.....somewhere, (possibly in the 3rd video) Burdick makes the point that the Laguna Beach museum makes a lot of money on something that is very popular with "regular" people..(the plein air painting competition) and yet, the Laguna Art Museum doesn't have a solitary contemporary plein air painting in their entire collection. So.. Burdick calls the Laguna Art Museum a pack of hypocrites. I liked this part of the video! It IS incongruent for the museum to have so much hoopla for their money making plein air event (it has been happening for 12 years now) but conversely have some sort of "less than" attitude about modern plein air painting. THAT is really interesting and worthy of discussion! Unfortunately, few people will make it to video #3 for the above stated reasons in the comments here. Burdick should have considered a professional voice over so that he wouldn't be so disliked so instantly.

I get a hinky feeling that Burdick has some a specific beef with the Laguna Art Museum and this "uphold-the-new-realism-movement" presentation was just a vehicle to tell the Laguna Art Museum to F** off. He hasn't been in their money-making competition for 8 years. Suspicious. I WILL give him points for presenting this IN Laguna Beach TO all the uppity museum people. You know there had to be a buzz after that..because it was a very gutsy thing to do (it's buried 3/4's into the presentation, but GUTSY nonetheless). I can assure you the Laguna Art Museum won't have a thing to do with him now...and the Weekend with the Masters might not either. There is usually repercussion for speaking out against the powers that be.

I dislike Burdick's views that all art must be beautiful..(God, if the world were made up of only of Bouguereau paintings it would be like having a steady diet of ice cream)...but I like that he asked an Art Museum to look at the incongruent manner they handle this whole plein air competition. They take money for entry fees and they take money for paintings....but they won't accept even one into their collection? That is truly an interesting point.
posted by naplesyellow at 1:06 PM on October 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


whoops, fixed links to:

Marilyn Minter

and

Julie Heffernan
posted by stagewhisper at 1:08 PM on October 10, 2010


They take money for entry fees and they take money for paintings....but they won't accept even one into their collection? That is truly an interesting point.

I know! It's almost as though they still have some standards!
posted by stagewhisper at 1:17 PM on October 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


I dislike Burdick's views that all art must be beautiful..

What Burdick actually says in the video is:

I’m not saying that all great art must be beautiful, just as I wouldn’t argue that all movies should be comedies. There are ugly and disturbing works that I find powerfully moving. But I am saying that aesthetic beauty has its own power, that it deserves its place before the public, and is vital to a healthy society.

posted by martinrebas at 1:39 PM on October 10, 2010


But I am saying that aesthetic beauty has its own power, that it deserves its place before the public, and is vital to a healthy society.

Isn't that what Vogue magazine is for?
posted by nomadicink at 1:58 PM on October 10, 2010



I dislike Burdick's views that all art must be beautiful.


Absolutely not, but do admit, we seem to have such a flood of the deliberately ugly, and to what end other than to shock? Stage whisper's list of current representational artists are a case in point - every damn one of those examples is (yes, to my benighted mind only) more disturbing than exalting, more unnerving than comforting. Some better than others, some interesting and good as far as technique and even power, but I have to say, I am genuinely surprised that not one of them hits the beauty mark. Perhaps that was deliberate, perhaps not, but me, when I see the calculatedly ugly, the would-be shocking, my first reaction, after Oh God, not again, is an uncomfortable feeling that I'm being played. And I'm pretty sure I'm not alone.

(Not that I think Burdick himself is all that good, alas.)

Isn't that what Vogue magazine is for?


You seen Vogue magazine lately?
posted by IndigoJones at 2:00 PM on October 10, 2010


but in gross amount of public university salaries, vast tax-exemption investments in museum real estate and donations to private universities and foundation, I don't think there's anything more firmly fixed to the public teat.

Private universities and foundations are not public.

Say what you will about Pitchfork or indie labels and venues and their oft-obnoxious proprietors, they're making it happen on their own frickin' dime.

There is a lot of current music that gets funding beyond mp3/album and ticket sales. Some of it even gets reviewed in Pitchfork.

Most artists that I know work full time or juggle multiple jobs, squeeze in their practice when they can, and hope to show their work at private galleries. If they make a sale, it's usually at a loss considering the cost of materials, studio rent, and labor (if you'd like to grant them at least minimum wage.) The galleries can also be labors of love, with people dedicating their time and effort and half of their living space without any thought of ever making a profit.

It kind of reminds me of most musicians I know.
posted by hydrophonic at 2:06 PM on October 10, 2010


>> aesthetic beauty deserves its place before the public

> Isn't that what Vogue magazine is for?

That's funny; I just read this blog post:

That the goal of runway paint isn't prettiness - people who I suspect would never dare enter art museums and ask why not everything there was a painting of a kitten nevertheless confidently announce that the goal of a fashion show is to present women at their easy-on-the-eyes.
/.../
For all the accusations of narcissism with which fashion gets pelted, the industry has remarkably ­little interest in making people look attractive. It's interested in making people look different.
posted by martinrebas at 2:12 PM on October 10, 2010


Well, it's a step up from the nasty view that it's a conspiracy of bitter gay men to make women look stupid.
posted by IndigoJones at 2:52 PM on October 10, 2010


Thanks for posting this; it's useful to have the classical art training tea-party POV so clearly and effectively demonstrated all in one place (easier than, say, browsing around the essays over at the Art Renewal Center), and it's entertaining to have so many varied and well-expressed responses from the blue hive to mull over. And fun to have a chance to indulge in some ranting of my own…

I'm totally behind the impulse to return more "classical" hand and eye training to contemporary art education. I enjoy the work of many of the Art Renewal Masters, living and otherwise, and I'm delighted to see so many fascinating but forgotten non-"moderns" resurrected via sites like Art Inconnu. I'm more than thrilled that there seems to be a genuine revival of interest in the traditional painter's craft going on; the art materials and information available today are SO much more rich, varied and extensive than when I studied painting in the 70s. Hallelujah!

So, Go Go Go, Realist Painting! But to defend the relevance of classic drawing and rendering skills and to celebrate the beauty of the Real World or the Human Form, why trot out Bouguereau's stunningly silly, fashion-bound angels when, say, Ingres is sitting right there, still well-loved, and making the case so much more powerfully? Seems to be strikingly underselling the whole notion of painted Beauty, along with the potential for Painting itself.

It's hard not to conclude from rants like Burdick's, and from his strangely simplistic examples, that he and his "Classical" cohorts don't really like Art. Or Painting. Or Art History. Or Visual Excitement. It's hard to imagine that they actually find the World to be beautiful and mysterious, or image-making to be a serious, profound activity. They seem more concerned with acclaim and acknowledgement, and with limiting expression and restraining creative freedom to some essentially quite preliminary and foundational image-making skills—not to mention the hints of some sort of repressive social vision—than with exploring the full poetic potential of their materials and skills, of design and gesture, of pattern, texture, color. They seem to have no interest in expanding either the world's artistic legacy or their own understanding of it; they simply want to confine it. To shut the trainee down just when they're about to set foot outside the "atelier".

All very strange; and fortunately, not apparently having much impact on the world's artists.

And, as stagewhisper shows, the imagined war between the Real and the Abstract is already won, or certainly rendered moot: There are exceptionally skilled and celebrated realist artists working at every level and from every artistic point of view in the world today, pushing well beyond whatever was accomplished by Tadema, Bouguereau, Zorn; and apparently more work potential than ever for skilled and trained drafts-persons, realist-visualizers and convincing renderers thanks to the virtualization of the entertainment industries.

My sense is that the non-representational and conceptual waves that crashed so dramatically into the 20th Century with RMutt and the rise of photography led to two things: An incredible refreshing of the collective visual imagination of the Western world as its realist blinders were dashed away, and to a sort of vacuum with the Death of Painting hysteria in the post-Greenbergian era. That vacuum is now inevitably and irresistibly being filled with the obvious fact that human beings deeply love to make images of every sort, from the most realist and narrative to the most conceptual and abstract, and generally don't give a crap what any Cultural Establishment may say or theoretical air-castle may imagine to the contrary. But to imagine that this rebirth of picture-making won't, or even worse shouldn't, be informed and invigorated by the incredible graphic and expressive discoveries of the 20th C's non-objective revolution, is the purest foolishness. Get over it, Burdick, and work on ALL your skills, not just your 19th Century stylings.
posted by dpcoffin at 3:34 PM on October 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


…But very big thanks, Burdick/ARC, for all you do to restore, revive, and reclaim the craft legacies of the days when painting loved itself unashamedly.

Don't worry about Beauty; it's always available, doesn't need rescue, and can't be legislated.
posted by dpcoffin at 3:56 PM on October 10, 2010


And, you know, I don't see that photography ever did anything but help painting.

I can't see that anyone who thought that a photo was better than a painting really liked painting all that much to begin with, or understood what it was about. And anybody who didn't think the photo was better was either delighted with what photography could teach them or relieved to be released from slavish accuracy.

The idea that photography actually replaced some essential practical function that painting was providing ordinary people before photography came along seems pretty theoretical to me. If reporting on the look of the world had become painting's chief function by the time photography came along, it was damn glad to be rescued.

And I love how photography/film's days of being a realist-medium/reflection-of-truth are pretty much over. Our collective impulse to create fictions and tell lies has quite thoroughly put photography out of the truth business, no? And then digital painting stole the film industry…

It's reasonable, I think, to imagine that a dedicated realist painter might have the best shot these days at really duplicating what the human eye experiences when looking unaided at the Natural World. If anybody cares…
posted by dpcoffin at 4:21 PM on October 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


n gross amount of public university salaries, vast tax-exemption investments in museum real estate and donations to private universities and foundation, I don't think there's anything more firmly fixed to the public teat.

Come back to me when businesses and religious organizations of all kinds start turning down their innumerable subsidies and tax-exceptions and then we can talk about who's more firmly fixed to "public teat."

Traditional realist artists are deliberately excluded from college art programs and museum collections

I suppose it's pointless to reply to someone who isn't here, but it should be noted that this is not just wrong, it's nutty; practically Timecube nutty.
posted by octobersurprise at 4:39 PM on October 10, 2010


I thought this was interesting..

(From the CA discussion of this video) Elwell said:
"Burdick is an interesting guy, though. I actually like him more than I like his paintings. Not that there's anything wrong with his art, it's beautifully done, but I find really interesting is that, in a market/genre which, almost by its very nature, is dominated by people who are conservative both politically and religiously, he is an outspoken progressive and atheist."
posted by yaymukund at 6:37 PM on October 10, 2010


When people begin to separate art from commerce all sorts of strange opinions and views are created. There is plenty of representational art being made, and a lot of it is in service of advertising. Commercial Arts Magazine is just one example of what can be found on a magazine rack.

I can't be bothered to watch the video, but does he even discuss Banksy? Now the relationship between art and commerce, that is worth giving lectures on, but debating the beauty of modern art is almost like hearing someone argue that the Earth is flat or the sun revolves around us. Truth(& Beauty) could be absolute and all the modern art lovers in this thread could be wrong, but that makes Truth, capital T, something foreign(& perhaps divine) to the everyday human.
posted by Shit Parade at 6:37 PM on October 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Scott Burdick responds to a heated discussion on Lines and Colors and addresses many of your points.
posted by yaymukund at 5:33 AM on October 15, 2010


You know, I'm sort of surprised this thread went 64 comments and more than a week without a single snappy "You know who else...?" mention of entartete Kunst.

MetaFilter, I am disappoint.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:49 AM on October 17, 2010


(Which is to say, while the advent of photography certainly played a key role in the move away from representational art during the first half of the 20th Century, a not insignificant portion of its continued appreciation in the latter half and beyond--particularly among those of us who have taken Art History 101--has almost certainly been a wonderfully drawn out Fuck You to Hitler.)

(Also, whither Islam?)
posted by Sys Rq at 9:01 AM on October 17, 2010


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