Is the art world at an all-time low?

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I can see it now....

"For sale: Large warehouse space. Filled with various debris. Perfect to start gallery in. Just don't clean up!"

And trust me there is no self-pity here....

A lot of head shaking yes.......

One has to wonder though if this is why the only "big draws" now are the older works like Van Gogh and such. Rarely do contemporary artists get good numbers. I mean "Family of Man" numbers. Possibly because what is out there is so removed from what average people experience and desire.

Seriously. I would much rather see an APUG exhibit with all the work of people here than a bunch of resin coated Whopper boxes.

I think I will get a bumper sticker that says "Too good to be considered an artist"
 

Jim Chinn

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about a year ago I was walking down an alley and looked in a dumpster as I passed buy, and it was about half filled with old law books, US code books, state code books etc. Probably a couple of hundred books, I suppose a law firm tossed them after getting updated versions. I took a picture and thought it was interesting. I showed the picture to a friend who is a contemporary painter and he mused that while the picture was interesting, think how much more so the actual dumpster and books on display would be.

I think you need to blame the public as much as the artists and our 30 second sound bite, 500 edits in a 3 minute music video culture. No one has time to contemplate art or how it relates or enriches their lives. it has to hit them over the head in a sensationalist way. Or it has to be more entertainment on the level of child. I remember the publicity for some mechanical display in NY that duplicated a persons bodily functions. It was fed something and the end result was it defecated for the crowd. If I remember it was a big hit.

IMHO most contemporary art is about laziness. It is easy to create art that is souless, dark and lacking any spirituality or hope. It is easy to recreate negativity and hopelessness because our society, especially in the west has adopted a form of moral relativism that sees moral and ethical outrages all around and just shrugs them off as business as usual.

Suffice it to say, that if you look at the great artists and photographers, who explored the darkest subjects, they always displayed an element of hope and triumph of the human spirit. The best example in Eugene Smith's photo of the Japanese mother bathing her daughter who had been horribly deformed by industrial mercury poisoning. One could easily show just the deformities of such people and shock us, but Smith demonstrated the tragedy while also providing a scene of love and hope. I challenge you to find a a work of contemporary art that is as poignant and powerful as that single image.
 
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The best example in Eugene Smith's photo of the Japanese mother bathing her daughter who had been horribly deformed by industrial mercury poisoning. One could easily show just the deformities of such people and shock us, but Smith demonstrated the tragedy while also providing a scene of love and hope. I challenge you to find a a work of contemporary art that is as poignant and powerful as that single image.

Good point. I remember seeing that picture at the age of 11-12 in some back issue of Nat. Geo or something like that, and it made a HUGE impression on me. It was a simply incredible picture.

Today I doubt it would get any recognition from the art world. It would probably be labeled as "commercial" since it was such a documentary piece of work. Irregardless of the fact that it is such an amazing piece. Personally I care less of where the image is from, and more about what it does. ANd I am tired of hearing how Annie Leibowitz is an artist, but anyone else who does commercial work is a "sell-out".

I guess Vanity Fair doesn't pay her for those spreads.....
 

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Robert, I remember that photo well myself - it was from one of the Great mags of that time - LIFE. Back when we had real photo journalist. I can't remember if it was a cover shot or not, but that mag had a great impact on me and I really miss it. Funny, Black & White magazine seems to be the only one I can think of that has photos in the same class and it is for collectors.

You are correct in there is a lot of crap out there going as art, but there are still real artist out there. Some are carving wood, some sculpture, some paint, some photograph. Blame it on the local art festivals, internet, media..we just see more of what DOES NOT APPEAL to us (and you wonder who it does) - just enjoy the artist You like, forget what others say - I still don't get why some people have to find some DEEP - HIDDEN meaning to each work of art....sometimes (most of the time in my mind) it is just what someone liked enough to record.

Just my 2 cents...
 
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I think we should all get together and hold a "Just Because" exhibit.

Just stuff that was taken or done, "Just because we wanted to."

Of ocurse we will be lynched outside a Chelsea gallery for this....
 

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I totally agree with all this-all too often I'm reminded of the scene in Monty Python's 'Life of Brian' where the crowd shout "We're all individuals"...
Also if you show any interest in craft you all too often get accused of being a nerd, obsessed with technique at the expense of expression- which is complete***************** as the two are allies. Imagine trying to read a novel that was full of printing errors, with missing pages etc.-the printing of that Eugene Smith pic really enhanced the power of the image.
 

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I think that the greatest art can be viewed or listened to completely apart from the artist. That is, the artist does not create to draw attention to himself, but to illuminate, reveal or glorify the subject matter. When I look at a Weston or O'Keefe, a Matisse, Picasso, Rothko or listen to Bach or Mozart or watch a play of Arthur Miller's or Eugene O'Neil I do not think of the artist other than to be thankful for the gifts that they have shared with us. The power of the work transcends the artist.

In most of today's contemporary art, the subject is the artist. Most work screams "look at me! Am I not a clever chap?" Quite a bit of it is about the artist's perceived angst and ax to grind with a world that doesn't understand them or is unfair. Somehow this drivel is considered to be intellectual and embraced by critics who enjoy their position in the world of New York art and the glitterati. Professors and teachers promote it because it justifies their own pitiful and lazy art.

Pick up any issue of Art Forum, Modern Painters, Contemporary Art etc, and show me work with any lasting value. There is some there, and some very good work, very beuatiful work. But most of it just seems to be made with a "keeping up with the Joneses metality.

Then there are the collectors. Who wants a Walker Evans, an Adams a Brett Weston or an O'Keeffe on the wall. They are so old school! Better to have something by Paul McCarthy or Witkin. Something for the dinner guests to see how hip you are.

Yes, I know what many say. "Who am I to decide what is and is not art?" What I do know is that a thousand people can walk by a pile of garbage for a few minutes and probably find something interesting in the pile, then walk away and forget it. A great work of art could be appreciated by one indivdual for a thousand years.

I know there are great artists out there struggling, creating masterpieces putting there work ahead of themselves without putting a chip on their shoulder that screams the world owes them something for their efforts.

Some thoughts and rants on this interesting thread.
 

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One thing I find interesting about this thread is that back in good old days, people screamed that this new art was not art at all. It was just garbage. Weston had work rejected and tossed out of the Armory Show in 1920 something. Today, that print (printed by Cole Weston) hangs on my hall wall in my house. Picasso had trouble in Paris as did a lot of other cubists and didn't the Abstract Expressionists take a lot of grief in the 1950's? Now we are all free to choose which art we display on the walls or in the galleries, but sometimes we are just too close to art to see the forest for the trees. Rejection of modern work is not a new thing.

lee\c
 
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To me it seems like it has come full circle. The New Art is "the only way" and older art is "wrong". Basically it seems like a lot of dogma is involved.

Personally I find some of what people do disgusting. There is one girl in my program who is amazing. She is young, but she has great technical skills in the darkroom and she comes up with some great things. Very talented and promising. You can just tell. She is of course viewed as "problematic" and "too technical" for today's world.

Real shame too. She is good. I am hoping to collaborate with her over the winter break.
 

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One of the greatest dangers for an artist is to become to involved in theory and to get caught up in reactionary attitudes toward what they DON'T like. One can't make art that way. One can write about art as a reaction, but not create it.

Directing energy toward work that is personally meaningful is a far more productive use of your time than worrying about whether other people's art sucks.
 

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bjorke said:
One of the greatest dangers for an artist is to become to involved in theory and to get caught up in reactionary attitudes toward what they DON'T like. One can't make art that way. One can write about art as a reaction, but not create it.
Directing energy toward work that is personally meaningful is a far more productive use of your time than worrying about whether other people's art sucks.

Bravo!!!

Well said, and deserves repeating!
 

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Just reading in my "Library" (otherwise known as the loo, for all you in Jolly Old..) and thought this might be appropriate here: Julia Cameron's "The Artist's Way", page 154,

"CREATIVE U-TURNS

Recovering from artist's block, like recovering from any major illness or injury, requires a commitment to health. At some point, we must make an active choice to relinquish the joys and privileges accorded to the emotional invalid. a productive artist is quite often a happy person. This can be very threatening as a self-concept to those who are used to getting their needs met by being unhappy.
"I'd love to, but you see ... I have these crippling fears ..." can get us a lot of attention. We get more sympathy as crippled artists than as functional ones. Those of us addicted to sympathy in place of creativity can become increasingly threatened as we become increasingly functional. Many recovering artists become so threatened that the make U-turns and sabotage themselves.
We usually commit creative hara-kiri either on the eve or in the wake of a first creative victory. The glare of success (a poem, and acting job, a song, a short story, a film, or any success) can send the recovering artist scurrying back into the cave of self-defeat. We're more comfortable being a victim of artist's block than risking having to consistently be productive and healthy.
An artistic U-turn arrives on a sudden wave of indifference . We greet our newly minted product or our delightful process with, "Aw, what does it matter anyhow? It's just a start. Everyone else is so much further ahead..."
Yes, and they will stay that way if we stop working. The point is that we have traveled light-years from where we were when we were blocked. We are now on the road, and the road is scary. We begin to be distracted by roadside attractions or detoured by the bumps."

To me, a major "bump" is the idea of, "Well, the entire art world is crazy and incoherent anyway. If it wasn't for all this garbage that everyone is accepting as art, they'd all notice how good my work is ...." - and succumbing to the all too often product of negative thought - retreating into a cave of self-pity and inaction.

I refuse to agonize over the "craziness" of the world - or any small part of it. I'll continue to search for, work toward, discover, or create ... or whatever the hell it is that I do in photography, for that bright spark of an image that "enraptures" ME. If in doing so, I am able to share that rapture with someone else - WONDERFUL!!

This book, "The Artist's Way", by Julia Cameron, has probably had more of an effect on my life and thought, - and SPIRIT - than any other.
I can and will recommend this, without reservation, to all.
 
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Bingo!

The problem is they don't want to. To move away from giving the Turner prize for someone who simply knows how hire a good electrician (seriously, it happened. And Madonna even awarded the damn thing....a new low. Look here for details -
http://www.guardian.co.uk/turnerprize2001/story/0,7369,589159,00.html ) would mean that you actually would need SKILL to be considered GOOD. I mean imagine what would happen if people were required to LEARN PRINTING SKILLS! Oh, the humanity! Or worse yet, learn COMPOSITION! It would be chaos! People would actually have to MAKE the art instead of just buying it or digging it out of the trash! Guys like Martin Creed would have to do more than get some unnamed sparky to install a timmer on some room lights!

I mean if people started MAKING their own art, when would they have time to do things like attend openings and have fondue parties?
 

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Robert Kennedy said:
To move away from giving the Turner prize for someone who simply knows how hire a good electrician... would mean that you actually would need SKILL to be considered GOOD. I mean imagine what would happen if people were required to LEARN PRINTING SKILLS! Oh, the humanity! Or worse yet, learn COMPOSITION! It would be chaos! People would actually have to MAKE the art instead of just buying it or digging it out of the trash! ...
I mean if people started MAKING their own art, when would they have time to do things like attend openings and have fondue parties?

Forgive me for omitting parts of your message here ... I hope I haven't changed the tone or intent significantly.

I would suggest that the "awarders" of the Turner Prize are not the ultimate controllers of the "Art World". True, they might have some influence... and I have heard of them, but they certainly do not motivate ME.
What this boils down to is a group of people who give money to weird people (as characterized by some). Strange, maybe ... but ... I wonder if anyone has seen the latest "Dilbert" strip, where "Chief High Honcho" hires a lackey to invent reasons for increasing the compensation to the CHH? There is one panel where Dilbert, frustrated, finally says (direct quote), "Gaaa!!! Stop pretending to have reasons!! Just steal the stupid money!!!"

One thing sort of troubles me ... there is an assumption that, if someone does not USE the principles of composition, or the "skills" of printing, that it necessarily follows that they do not KNOW what they are. Possibly they don't, but this is one enormous leap to a conclusion.

I claim a great deal of freedom in my work. If I choose to ignore the "rules" of composition, blow a highlight, or display shadows with no detail, or print in low, or high key, or incorporate wide angle distortion, or grain - or display a figure with a telephone pole sticking out of his head, I WILL (the telephone pole bit is not likely to happen, but that is beside the point)... And I'll do everything I can to encourage others to realize the same level of freedom.

Will this in some way lead to the production of "bad" art? In some way, in some instances ... it COULD... but to quote one of the most important lines from Julia Cameron- Ste. Julia, to me ... "Don't worry that the art will not be GOOD. The real danger is that the art will not BE."

BTW ... I *LIKE* fondue.
 
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Good points Ed.

When I say art world, I am speaking not of everyone in it, but the CHH types who run the galleries and award the prizes. The ones who do have a huge influence on what is seen by many people when they walk into a gallery of museum. As well as the people doing the educating.

Now, you did say,
One thing sort of troubles me ... there is an assumption that, if someone does not USE the principles of composition, or the "skills" of printing, that it necessarily follows that they do not KNOW what they are. Possibly they don't, but this is one enormous leap to a conclusion.
, and I don't really agree with that.

See, I am a bit of a pessimist. And if you present me with 27 works all salvaged from the dump which all show no signs of composition or skill and simply come with 27 page long statements, I am going to make the conclusion that you don't know much about composition and such.

Look at Picasso. He broke the rules. Big time. But before he did he learned to paint. And he could paint all sorts of things. He learned and then he went out and did his own thing. Great! The problem now is that people aren't learning much except how to write a BS statement, and people who DO want to learn the skills and the artistry have fewer and fewer places to go. When we ONLY accept art that "breaks the rule" we end up saying "The rules are that only THIS is acceptable!" The irony is that today people who want to break the rules have to go out and learn things like composition and darkroom work, etc! Seriously, I think if Picasso was a young artist today, he'd replicate what is big now, and then go out and paint something with the grace and subtlety of the Sistine Chapel just because things like that are considered "phallocentric propaganda" (actual quote)!

The point is we have no freedom now it seems. We must conform to the standards set by the non-conformists of yesteryear.

And I like fondue too. But recently I have seen too much of it at openings. Including "soy fondue"....

Whatever happened to having some cold cuts and shrimp?
 

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does the so-called illusionist david blaine have anything to do with this? ... " american illusionist david blaine is now walking out of a bathroom he locked himself in for the past 30 days "
 

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Then again, why not?

I can't help but wonder what *MY* emotional response would be ....

Hmm... "Art follows function"? Or is the other way around ...?
 

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Thought I'd throw in my opinion too, since everyone else is doing it... :tongue: LOL

I agree with the idea of 'to each his own', and I try not to let myself get irritated with the 'artiste's', but I also agree that trying to buck the norm can and hopefully will make a difference, if enough people do it. Oh, and those articles? Agh! Here's another, with some good discussion:

We Workers Do Not Understand Modern Art

I also thought it was interesting that I was just talking to a new photography-related e-mail acquiantance (does that make sense?) about this very thing. So rather than tire my poor little artist hands, I'll just cut and paste. Got a fondue party to attend, you see...


"I've thought long and hard, many many times, about what my 'artistic goal' is. My intent, above all else, is to create emotions on paper that all people can relate to. None of that holier-than-thou only the artist elite get it crap. The number of hacks in circulation in the art 'community' - UGH!! It's sickening what some people will go crazy over... blood and vomit on the sidewalk turns into an 'installation' piece in some museum that must be run by, what, idiots?? Ooops, got sidetracked, didn't I? Anyhow, the whole idea for me is to make art that anyone can relate to, respond to, feel. I have a lot of melancholy memory sort-of feelings... a smell brings me back to an indistinct moment when I was five or so, a texture reminds me of something intangible but so familiar... I can't quite put my finger on it. Those are the sort of feelings I want to stir up in people. Those indescribable feelings/emotions that are stirred up every now and again that remind you of something, not a time or place or person or object but a feeling you once felt long ago but haven't felt since. Am I nuts?"
 

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Aurore said:
Those indescribable feelings/emotions that are stirred up every now and again that remind you of something, not a time or place or person or object but a feeling you once felt long ago but haven't felt since. Am I nuts?"

Where is that quote from Rumi?

"Let the lover be disgraceful, crazy, absentminded.
Someone sober will worry about events going badly.
Let the lover be."


I think there is a *very* good "fit" if we substitute "Photographer" (or "Artist") in the place of "lover."

Come to think of it ... Is there much of a difference ...?
 

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This has been a rather enjoyable thread to read. I have had some experiences with art education that I found quite humorous. It seemed that in college, the art that was most well recieved by the professors were the projects that I whipped up the night before it was due. So I guess haste makes art is the moral of that :smile:

The second thing that stands out about a painting class that I took was how I was painting squiggles on a blank canvas while I was trying to think of something to do, sort of doodeling, when the professor saw it, he started raving about it, and asked me to do a series of them for the spring art show, so i went home knocked out 3 more multi-colored doodles and turned them in a couple of weeks later. I thought it was great, little work, big reward (A in class), but now I just find it funny/sad.
 
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