Friday, June 11, 2010

THE NEXT GREAT ARTIST

Anyone curious about the identity of the next great artist will surely want to tune in to the new TV reality series, Work of Art: The Next Great Artist.

In last night's debut, host and judge China Chow (ranked #54 on the Maxim list of the Hot 100 Women of 2001) welcomed a gaggle of artists who will be pitted against each other as they claw for celebrityhood. In the first phase of the competition, Chow told the artists how to create "a successful portrait."


"Chow: show the inner essence of the subject"

Art lover Sarah Jessica Parker (Sex in the City) then exhorted the competitors to "be brave."



But nothing quite compared to the the moment when the oleaginous, double breasted Simon de Pury, described as a "leader in the international art world," purred inappropriately over a nude portrait of a contestant half his age ("I seenk eet loooks vehreee appeeling").

The cumulative effect reminded me of Ambrose Bierce's observation,"So scurvy a crew I do not remember to have discerned in vermiculose conspiracy outside the carcass of a dead horse."

It's not like we didn't smell this state of affairs coming. Mid-way through the 20th century, artist Raphael Soyer looked ruefully over his shoulder at the path fine art had recently taken:
The art world of the 1920s and 1930s was different from today's art world. Art was not the big business it has become today. It did not have the air of glitter and commercialism. Art was less sensational, reputations were not so rapidly made and lost. There were about 15 or so modest art galleries in New York, several of them filled with paintings by Eakins, Homer and Ryder. The well known, in fact, famous artists of that time-- Bellows, Sloan, Hopper-- were not celebrities.
Saul Bellow had a similar view of the way a foolish prosperity had undermined potentially serious writers:
Nowadays when a young man thinks of becoming a writer, first he thinks of his hairstyle and then what clothes he should wear and then what whiskey he's going to endorse.... The depression bred compassion and solidarity between people instead of breeding crime and antagonism. They were much less harsh or severe than in time of prosperity.
Even Soyer and Bellows didn't anticipate the path art would take. One of the contestants on Work of Art: The Next Great Artist created performance art where white males in her audience were invited to apologize for oppressing indigenous people by biting a burrito attached to her substantial hip.

Decadent, superfluous art seems especially difficult to tolerate because of what art has the potential to be. As Shakespeare noted, "Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds."

But the purpose of this week's post is not to shoot fish in a barrel. There is actually an interesting point here. It is worth considering why illustration has largely escaped this type of putrefaction. Illustration admittedly has many limitations, but it also seems to contain antibodies that protect it from the decadence and self-indulgence which have infected much of the fine art field in recent decades.

The relentless efficiency of the marketplace strips illustration of a lot of potential qualities, but at the same time it seems to scrub away a lot of pretensions and illusions. Art in the service of robust commerce doesn't have as much latitude for the vices that we see on display in so many of today's temples of fine art.

331 Comments:

Blogger Rob Fiore said...

Thanks for another great post. I watched the show and I think it is a good thing to let the masses see that there are still people out there trying to become artists. The top pieces showed some real skill. There was one scene where they actually filmed one of the contestants drawing on the canvas freehand--how often do we see that? We may not end up with high art, but kudos to the concept.

6/12/2010 3:35 PM  
Blogger Zak said...

Hi David. Good blog- I don't know if you are in New York, but we have an exhibition of Raphael Soyer up now, through June. Mostly early work from 1917-1930s.

http://rcgrossfoundation.org/

6/12/2010 4:11 PM  
Blogger innisart said...

Hey David-

Thanks for the post- sadly I missed the show.

To paraphrase Soyer, "The illustration world of today is not like that of the past." It has to be kept in mind that illustrators of 60 or so years ago WERE celebrities. The average person knew who they were, and looked forward to the next issue of their favorite magazine to see the artist's new work. These illustrators did cameo appearances in product endorsements, and not just for art materials. This was back when illustration was considered a profession, and illustrators made better incomes than doctors or lawyers.

That illustration has never become so avant garde has much more to do with appealing to the masses. The audience which purchases Modern art is a small group of people who have been persuaded into using their money to create artists and inflate the value of the artist's work. Illustrators must create work that actually communicates with the viewer (which to me, makes it better). Work which doesn't appeal to the average person will fail to sell products, so advertisers won't use it.

I don't think that money corrupts artists, but I do think that money and egos have certainly corrupted the art world/market.

How sad it is that illustrators, who are often today's most talented artists, are paid the same amount for most projects in 2010 as they were getting in 1975, while Modern artists can get millions for outrageous works, based on the salesmanship of galleries and auction houses, and the gullibility of fools with money.

6/12/2010 5:18 PM  
Blogger Ian Jackson said...

Perhaps the contestants themselves can answer the question. At one point during the critique section of the show, the roundish black-haired woman proclaimed that she was 'not responsible for a viewer's reaction to her artwork.'

That, I think, is the fundamental difference between applied art and fine art. Illustrators are wholly responsible for a viewer's reaction to their art. Illustrators train specifically to guide a viewer's eye and evoke a specific response.

Fine artists, on the other hand, can claim conceptual ambiguity and pass the buck along to the viewer.

In other words, the reason you find less bullshit in the illustration world is because our market has proprietary 'bullshit filters,' and by that I mean Art Directors.

6/12/2010 6:36 PM  
Blogger ULAND said...

Ultimately, I think the show might do some good by exposing the "art world"— something thought of as impenetrable by most— for what it is; 90% b.s, but a lot of genuine, authentic talent trying to not suffocate beneath the weight of it. Yes, I'm talking about the large "conceptual" artist woman...
It'll give people a way in; they'll kind of know that they can make fun of the nonsense while appreciating the good stuff instead of just dismissing it all.

6/12/2010 11:19 PM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

Here is a funny clip from a reality show called "Big Brother Celebrity Hijack" where Brian Sewell rips apart an aspiring *conceptual artist*.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WNMEzxF9fHM

Also make sure to check youtube for Robert Hughes' latest series "The Mona Lisa Curse". I haven't watched it yet, but I can't wait.

6/12/2010 11:24 PM  
Blogger Cat Rocketship said...

I'm kind of boggled by this post and many of the comments. As Ian said, illustration is an applied art. That is its essence - how can that become "putrefied"?

However, Ian - not all fine artists (the minority, I really think) - see fine art's interpretation as being so subjective as Nao. I scoffed when she said that the viewer's takeaway wasn't her responsibility. Most artists understand that and effective art will communicate something to its viewers in a fairly unambiguous way. If my viewers don't understand my paintings to communicate roughly the same thing as I think they're communicating, then it's not a resolved piece.

As for the show itself - I was pleasantly surprised. China Chow is a total joke, yes, and she shouldn't be weighing in on the work at all. However, I enjoyed de Pury's critiques of the WIPs, and agreed totally with the selected winner and loser - however weird that sounds to apply to artists.

6/13/2010 12:17 AM  
Blogger Justin said...

It's so refreshing to hear someone give such clear arguments for why the fine art of our era is such a tragedy. Thanks for posting David.

6/13/2010 1:43 AM  
Anonymous metal storage boxes said...

Thanks for the post. the show was top notch has many impressive drawings showing some real skill on hand.

Tim

6/13/2010 4:11 AM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

Wow. I just finished watching Robert Hughes' "Mona Lisa Curse" and my jaw is on the floor. It is the most powerful condemnation of the current art scene that I have ever experienced. I've linked to all 12 parts in order on the Animation Archive blog. Don't miss it.

Robert Hughes' "The Mona Lisa Curse"

6/13/2010 4:33 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Rob Fiore wrote, "there are still people out there trying to become artists."

Yes, but there seem to be a great many of them trying to become stars instead. You can be a great artist without the wealth and celebrity lifestyle of a Schnabel or a Koons. In fact, I'd say it probably helps.

6/13/2010 9:12 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Zak-- thanks, I don't live in NY but I get there from time to time on business and I will definitely stop in. I confess I was not previously familiar with your foundation.

Innisart-- I agree with much of what you say, but I would emphasize that when those illustrators were so well paid, it was clear what they were being paid for. Charles Dana Gibson made a mint because nobody else could create images with pen and ink the way he did. Maxfield Parrish was well paid because millions of people were entranced by "Daybreak" and other images from his fertile mind. Leyendecker's unique skills translated to tangible value for his patrons. I think the only way to reach the numbers being paid to art celebrities such as Damien Hirst is by spinning art as a competitive ego game (or an investment strategy) for investment bankers and corporate moguls with more money than taste.

6/13/2010 9:42 AM  
Blogger innisart said...

David-

Believe me, no argument here! I just wanted to point out that illustrators have known their celebrity status too, but as you said, their work wasn't corrupted on the road to fame.

6/13/2010 10:10 AM  
Blogger Laurence John said...

Stephen, thanks for the link to that programme. while i sympathize with Mr. Hughes' doomy outlook on the seeming state of contemporary art my advice to him and anyone else bemused by the excess of money and lack of real talent at that end of the market is simply to ignore it and focus on the art you like instead. it's such a rarefied world that Mr. Hughes' is attacking that is may as well be on another planet anyway.

6/13/2010 10:21 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Ian, I think the situation you describe is both the strength and weakness of illustration. Arrogant disregard for an audience leads to the kind of irrelevant navel gazing that we saw from "the roundish black-haired woman." On the other hand, illustrators who simply cater to the broadest audience usually turn out pretty mediocre work. The truly great illustrators, in my view, are often the opinionated ones who take chances and stretch their viewers-- and their art directors.

Uland-- I couldn't tell if you viewed the "conceptual" artist as one of those authentic talents or not. I agree there is no shortage of genuine talent out there, but I think some of today's systemic incentives reward the wrong kinds of talent. It may reward ingenuity in public relations and marketing but I fear it tends to pervert the quality of the art which is the point of this whole process.

Stephen-- thanks for the video clips.

6/13/2010 10:24 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Cat rocketship-- I wasn't clear how you were "boggled" by the post and comments, perhaps because I am not sure how you intended your point that illustration is an "applied art."

For me, art is closer to its original purpose when it is "applied," in the sense of being integrated into life. Art in the service of the hunt, the way it began on the walls of prehistoric caves-- art in the service of stories that were once told around bonfires and are now told in books or on television-- art applied to the sacred on cathedral walls-- folk art-- art in the service of communication. And yes, art that makes a movie or an issue of the Saturday Evening Post more attractive to people. That's one reason why I have a soft spot in my heart for "applied art." We of course need to retain an open mind about UNapplied art (and I like some of it quite a lot) but I laugh at the notion that it necessarily represents some higher stage of evolution for art.

6/13/2010 11:15 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

The purpose of applied art is to decorate.

While good Illustration does decorate whatever blank surface it is attached to, Illustration's main purpose is to illuminate its subject or idea.

Since a great deal of postmodern art is also illustrating some idea or other, albeit haplessly, the only essential difference between illustration and postmodernism is that a postmodernist is unwilling and/or unable to please anybody with their work, except those who are pleased when certain others are displeased.

In other words, the value of postmodern art is in supplying the same old political agit-prop to those who are desperate to show that they are anti-bourgeoise and against all "normal" values. This purchasing of hipness is a form penance for success.

The only way to break the penance value of purchasing such politically correct junk is to destroy the church in charge.

6/13/2010 12:37 PM  
Blogger Tom said...

Shouldn't that light behind China Chow be turned off, I don't want to be distracted by a bunch black and white contrasts that don’t pretend to the subject when looking at a beautiful woman. Try covering up the light behind her and you can see Chow better don’t you think?


“The relentless efficiency of the marketplace strips illustration of a lot of potential qualities, but at the same time it seems to scrub away a lot of pretensions and illusions. Art in the service of robust commerce doesn't have as much latitude for the vices that we see on display in so many of today's temples of fine art.


It seems like the art in “today’s temple’” stripes away different qualities (draftsmanship, artistic skills and replaces those qualities with different values, values that I can not quite place my finger on, maybe the value of money or spirituality), after all both are in the service of robust commerce that wants to maintain its power and wants you to believe in their power. The temple even has the power to get us to watch TV shows about art.

Mass media whether it’s Norman Rockwell’s America or the newest reality show is where we all become happy consumers of what corporate America provides. Why does J.C. Leyendecker go to all the trouble to selling interwoven socks as if the purchases could provide the consumer with some sort of true happiness?


Lawrence is right better to know what interests you as and an artist that worry about what everyone else is doing.

Many artists would question Maxfield Parish as a painter; after all he was in many ways coloring photographs. Or Rockwell describing his fear of Leyendecker visiting his studio and seeing that he worked from photos. I am not saying they are not good artist I merely saying what people value is how they determine what is good art. In China the idea of copying the way things look was considered the lowest and most mediocre type of art.

Daminan Hearst fills a need for his clients like Charles Dana Gibson. In a lot of ways you could say art served commerce as illustration and now art has become commerce. First art as illustration was selling fear and desire, promising the viewer some kind of happiness if they bought a certain product or read a certain story. Now art itself is a product that promises to fulfill some sort of believed lack in the viewer; believe what the culture offers you and believe its values and you will find happiness.

The “relentless efficiency of the marketplace is another illusion isn’t? Our whole economy is looking more and more like one giant Enron, and it hasn’t happened overnight but decades. The Art world is not different from the rest of the world, the illusions you find there are the same that are found across the whole culture don’t you think. Golden age arguments seemed to me to always be a half truth, wasn’t Homer writing about a golden age to show the then present day Greeks what life could be and how brave man where?

You may get a kick out of this Rackstraw Downes quote David as it pretends to illusion and the ability to maintain illusion “I don't think the political impulse is overt but it is probably built into my system. I'm not very interested in the idea of comfort. I rather believe that there is a tremendous amount of discomfort on this planet, and it is not equally distributed among the population. And some are able to purchase their way out of that kind of discomfort." He once told me that after a whole series of drawings of the golf range on Chelsea Piers he abandoned the idea of painting the subject because, with the season change, lots of yachts began to moor, and he was put off by their sense of luxury.”

At least the present culture allows the artist to make what they want to make, isn’t there a certain new freedom in that?

6/13/2010 1:28 PM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

Laurence, I wish these attitudes were relegated to just the upper strata of the art world, but they aren't. Hughes shows how even art museums have been plowed under. The sickness permeates every level, and even extends into commercial art as well. I work in animation, and there are direct parallels to talentless celebrity artists being propped up by money machines at the expense of much more worthy artists. Illustration is a pale shadow of what it used to be because magazines, advertisements and newspapers have chased the almighty dollar straight into the grave.

The great artists are out there for sure, but with all the money and attention being siphoned off into the art equivalent of "junk bonds", no one will ever hear about it, and the artists will struggle just to make ends meet. The reason the air is rarified up there is because they used it all up.

The core problem is endemic throughout all creative endeavors... Music, art, illustration, theater... Our society values pizzazz and rates the value of things in dollars and cents, not meaning or cultural significance. Robert Hughes is absolutely correct in placing the origin of this shift in cultural values to the mid 1960s. Andy Warhol was one of the key figures who tore down everything it had taken centuries to build, but he wasn't alone.

I think that in the future, when the history of our generation is written, we will be described as the most destructive and self absorbed society in the history of mankind. We took what the "great generation" fought to preserve and willfully destroyed it for a little short term cash advantage... Our art, our music, our environment... all deconstructed and scattered to the winds. We've come up with the most powerful technology to communicate in the history of mankind, and we use it to publish videos of brawls in the street and dogs doing funny things.

Culture is an endangered species, and Robert Hughes puts his finger on ground zero of it's demise. That documentary may be specifically about art, but it is more than just art. It reaches to all aspects of post modern society. As Hughes says, "holding a mirror up to decadence is still decadent." Recognizing the vapidity of our society isn't profound. We need the art equivalent of Jesus and the money changers in the temple. Hopefully, by the time that happens, it won't be too late to save anything.

6/13/2010 6:31 PM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

Daminan Hearst fills a need for his clients like Charles Dana Gibson.

I spit on the floor loudly.

6/13/2010 6:34 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Stephen... thanks so much for putting that show on your site. And I enjoyed reading your comment just now.

However, while Warhol may be a bete noir for Mr. Hughes, he seems oblivious to the idea that the artist he champions so often, Robert Rauschenberg, is to many of us made of the same cloth as Warhol. Rauschenberg may be more creative, but he still created insignificant editorials on culture. And Rauschenberg was only continuing the line started by Duschamp and the Dadaists.

In other words, Hughes thinks the problem is commodification. But the problem actually is the apotheosis of nihilism. And this reverence for tearing down culture, the popularity and coolness of it, is what resulted in the commodification afterwards.

6/13/2010 7:08 PM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

That's a bingo, Kev. I don't give Rauschenberg a pass. I see the same flaws in him that you do. I think that the disease that is devouring the art world is contageous, and it attacks both great and lousy artists equally. When I first watched Shock of the New back in college, one of the biggest shocks for me was Duchamp. How could someone with so much skill, intelligence and insight choose to shut it all down and create autographed urinals?

I've been thinking and getting angry since I saw this documentary last night. I'm trying to figure out how modern culture can take something like the arts- arguably even more cherished by humanity than science and religion put together- and totally trash centuries of accumulated value. The only explanation I can come up with is that we don't really care about anything but ourselves and our immediate surroundings any more. It's as if culture has committed suicide, and those of us who still value it are isolated cells that just haven't been shut down yet.

I do my part by encouraging and supporting student artist- and kicking their asses when the slide into the nihilism you are talking about. But even art schools are teaching the history of art as if all artists and all works are equal. I'm glad that there are critics willing to stick their necks out and call a spade a spade. But who cares about what art critics say?

Sigh

6/13/2010 8:25 PM  
Anonymous Rebecca said...

Thanks, David. I always enjoy your writing - very thought provoking.

“It is more than just art” Stephen Worth

Yes, art is just another language of expressing ideas. There are a lot of crummy ideas out there and art is good at selling them because it is such a mysterious language to the masses. I think that’s why advertisement is so powerful, people don’t know there is a man behind the curtain. Most people think art isn’t something that they can do. I’m not saying that everyone can be an artist, not everyone can be Shakespeare just because they know how to read and write, or build a space shuttle just because they can count. However, if art weren’t such a mysterious thing to people, if they had been taught in school how to draw for themselves maybe artists wouldn’t look so much like mystical Egyptian scribes. Maybe then art wouldn’t be worshipped and such large offerings thrown at it, maybe it would be questioned and challenged.

“Good to let the masses see there are still people out there trying to become artists. . . actually filmed one of the contestants drawing.”
Rob Fiore

So maybe the show is a little step in the right direction? I wouldn’t know, I gave up on tv a while ago.

6/13/2010 9:52 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Justin-- thanks!

Stephen Worth-- I shall enjoy going through all 12 parts of Robert Hughes' film on your Animation Archive blog. As you might imagine, I am a big fan of Hughes. Most of all, I respect the integrity of his approach to art criticism: he doesn't claim to have any special credential or patent or educational degree that qualifies him as an "expert" on art, or entitles him to some presumption in his favor. All he has is his words, naked and alone, to persuade you of the value of his ideas. Either they convince you or they don't. I aspire to live by the same standard.

Having said that, I think Hughes sometimes enjoys the role of curmudgeon just a little too much. When he does, his polemics can steamroll over subtler work of value. But he is always fun to read.

6/13/2010 9:53 PM  
Anonymous Lipov said...

(Im sorry for my bad english)
I guess I am one of those people who cant find any sense in anything. I could be described nihilistic. I liked drawing in the past, but over the years trough philosophy everything became meaningles. I stoped drawing because i couldnt find anything that would make me feel like creating meaningful things. I liked classical arts, but now there is no art show, or gallery that would impress me, I can look at Monet for example and I have all the knowledge to understand his work (i went to art school), but there is nothing that would make me enthusiastic, that would make me feel like "whoa, man, how fucking great is that!". Same about turner, caravaggio, rubens, etc I think representational art simply cannot strike me anmyore like it did many years ago.

Im good at representational drawing, but I dont see any point in it, I can express more feelings than a random photograph can, but in this technological world that just doesnt do it for me. The impact of a drawing/painting just isnt big enough, because i guess the technology took so many factors away from representational works. My shelves are filled with various books, from davinci, rembrandt, delacroix, bouguereau, church, bierstadt, duchamp, rothko, pollock, to booth, frazetta, bisley and trash like valejo/bell and royo.

Nothing can show me the way to pursue, I get bored while looking at anything. When I pick up a pencil I dont know what to do, I can render anything, but why should i? I liked frazetta when I was younger, should I try to express the drama, color harmonies and designes through fantasy settings? Even if I could manage it, that wouldnt satisfy me just like when I yawn at frazetta.

Ive read about aesthetics, kant, benjamin, greenberg, danto, Ive watched documentaries about art criticism and all it did was to make me confused. I end up with unanswered answers all the time. And nothing ever points me to a direction, where I could find something meaningful to me. I can understand things, I can appreciate hard work, but thats not what I expect from art. I can understand and apprecite alot of things outside of the art world.

I dont like duchamp, warhol, lichenstein and other 20 century artists. I can understand Dantos thoughts about the importance of warhol, but I recognize it as "dry philosophical ejaculations" that doesnt help me to live or love better. Its pointless to me, its art about art.

Now here is how I feel -> I dont like Hirst or koons work, but I like the impact they have on art world. I like the destructional effect of money and auction houses, I love enourmeous prices, Its so dramatic, like seeing caravaggio for the first time. I love rich idiots who spend hundreds of millions on junk, they are just tearing apart everything, nothing makes sense anymore, you have Hirst making bizarre amounts of money, you have auction houses artificially fucking up the value systems, you have, I dont know, fred ross trying to ressurect kitschy bouguereaus,...

I dont know how to explain my feelings, but looking at the chaos in todays art world is the only aspect that I enjoy about art at the moment. In a weird way, bizarre pointless crap makes me more ecstatic than Turners sea battles. When I see some oversized toy in a huge lobbey of a company i get hope that after this, art will end or it will provide me withot something I could fall in love again. But tbh, I dont see the meaning of art anymore. I hate it that I have a gift and see no purpose in using it. I dont know what to think.

6/13/2010 10:06 PM  
Blogger Ray said...

I remember walking into an art gallery in Cambridge while I was living in England. There, I viewed a video installation of a series of performance art by a certain artist (whose name I immediately forgot). Indicative of his work was one vignette where the "artist" sowed a dead fish to his navel. I knew then that I would never belong in the fine art world in which we find ourselves. I wanted to meet him on the street and punch him. I can only hope he got an infection or in some way badly injured himself.

6/13/2010 10:22 PM  
Blogger Ray said...

To Lipov,

It sounds as though it's not art you find no more meaning in, but life itself. My first recommendation is to stop reading the philosophers who share that worldview. More than a few went insane or killed themselves.

Perhaps look up the book of Ecclesiastes...part of the Biblical Old Testament. The writer actually has much sympathy for your view of things...until the end of the book.

6/13/2010 10:31 PM  
Blogger Ray said...

Kev Ferrara said, "the only essential difference between illustration and postmodernism is that a postmodernist is unwilling and/or unable to please anybody with their work, except those who are pleased when certain others are displeased. "

Brilliant.

6/13/2010 10:40 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Kev, I tend to get nervous when people apply tight definitions to behavior as messy and imprecise as the arts. I don't mean it can't be instructive to try... it just seems that no matter how smart or elegant or internally consistent the definition is, it can unravel pretty quickly once you take it outside to play.

In the case of "post-modernism," I would refer you to the seminal reference work "Graphic Styles" by Heller and Chwast, which has a fairly hefty section with examples of post-modern illustration. Their view is that post-modernism is an umbrella term to include Pacific Modern, Punk, Neo-Expressionism, Neo-Dadaism and other 80's substyles (with the exception of Bauhausians). I'm not sure it is fair to dismiss all of post-modernism (or the intentions of post-modernist artists) as broadly as you do. I'm sure you would agree that it's hard to find a school of art with absolutely no redeeming value.

6/13/2010 10:42 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

David, I don't share Heller and Chwast's definition of postmodernism. I think it is too broad.

The hallmark of postmodern work from my view, is that it is nihilistic, ad hoc, derivative in a bland way, and designed to outrage anybody who cares about anything. If a postmodern work happens to have some transcendent value, this is not due to postmodernist aesthetics, but the intrusion of some aesthetic from outside postmodernism sneaking into the otherwise postmodern work. That is, a postmodern work can only be intrinsically valuable if it is impurely postmodern, because the very definition of postmodernism is the rejection of intrinsic/transcendental value.

Ray, ;

Stephen, you might like my idea of roving bands of art activists who walk through galleries full of postmodern bull yelling, "Boring! Borrrrrrrrinnnnngg!"

6/13/2010 11:53 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Tom wrote: "Many artists would question Maxfield Parish as a painter; after all he was in many ways coloring photographs. Or Rockwell describing his fear of Leyendecker visiting his studio and seeing that he worked from photos."

Tom, you raise several good points. On the issue of Maxfield Parrish, I recognize that he relied heavily on photography but I think he was nevertheless a brilliant artist and an innovative colorist with a fertile imagination. I don't know if you've seen many of his originals but they can be quite beautiful. I was far more impressed with his work in person than I was with his printed work.

But with respect to your broader subject of photography, I agree with Susan Sontag that the rise of photography played an important role in art's migration away from representational work and technical skill. Many of art's traditional image-making roles could be filled photographically by people who did not have to labor for years to develop special skills. Portraits and paintings memorializing great battles or beautiful scenery could suddenly be handled cheaper and faster. Sontag believes (and it sounds reasonable to me) that photography had the effect of devaluing artistic skill and sending artists scuttling for more internal and cerebral subject matter in a smaller domain they could still call their own. Of course, for many years during the transition phase there were great artists such as Lautrec or Degas or Rockwell or Parrish who had fabulous skills but who used photography quite effectively to assist their productivity. But I think by the time photoshop came along, most artists had ceded the battleground over technical skill. The indignity for artists who had felt that technical skill was a divinely inspired talent was just too great.

6/14/2010 3:20 AM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

kev- I once saw a one panel cartoon of two rich elderly ladies in an art gallery full of solid color canvases and giant polka dotted walls. One of the says to the other, "I like this kind of art because I can take in a whole museum full of it in a half hour."

David- There are always individual exceptions, but I think it's pretty fair to say that as a whole, post modernism is one of the most artistically bankrupt periods in the entire history of art. Compared to the first half of the 20th century, the last half has been a steep decline by just about any standard you choose.

6/14/2010 3:25 AM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

...come to think of it, technology is just about the only area where the last half of the 20th century has progressed.

6/14/2010 3:29 AM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

Sorry for the multiple posts. I keep thinking of more to foam at the mouth over.

I don't think photography has anything to do with the decline of the past few decades. Photography has existed for over a century. It may be responsible for cubism, but not post modernism.

Post modernism is built on the cynicism of big business- promoting the illusion of value to create an exploitable short term bubble. It's the exact same sort of exploitation as the banking crisis, runaway production and Enron. We are cheating our culture and our future for the opportunity to get money for nothing.

This is what happens when lazy, selfish hippies grow up to become lazy, selfish businessmen.

6/14/2010 3:40 AM  
Blogger अर्जुन said...

""This is what happens when lazy, selfish hippies grow up to become lazy, selfish businessmen.""~Just like the beatniks!

Damn hippies!

Did somebody mention Bauhaus? R.I.P. Bela LugosiWhite Zombie lives on.

6/14/2010 5:41 AM  
Blogger Rob Howard said...

>>>It is worth considering why illustration has largely escaped this type of putrefaction. <<<

Come back from conceptart.com and say that with a straight face. Tell us where you see this lack of putrefecation in illustration. Where do you see anything we haven't seen since the 1980's. It's all so familiar and, as we have seen demonstrated...familiarity breeds an ever-diminishing market. A good illustration of the current illustration market would be an endless circle of dogs sniffing each other asses for the latest trend.

But hey, what do I know. I'm not a fan. ...and let's choose better examples than Soyer.

6/14/2010 10:13 AM  
Blogger Rob Howard said...

Not to sound like a total grump, thanks for that picture of the cute little bird. I brought back memories of being a youth in Asia.

6/14/2010 10:16 AM  
Blogger Ray said...

David,

To be fair, I have to admit that there is some postmodern art that I like even though I am against much of its nihilistic philosophical undercurrents. For example, I do find, generally speaking, postmodern architecture to be a vast improvement over modernism...which was totally soulless.

And certainly, the glorification of nihilism and rejection of transcendence in art predated postmoderism.

6/14/2010 10:23 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Laurence John wrote, "my advice to him and anyone else bemused by the excess of money and lack of real talent at that end of the market is simply to ignore it and focus on the art you like instead."

Laurence, I agree with your general point. In fact, as a collector of illustration and comic art, I am delighted that so many of today's wealthy art collectors are tasteless and gullible. It means I don't have to compete with them. Illustration and comic art have truly been the best bargains in the art market. (As buyers such as George Lucas or Steven Spielberg start collecting Norman Rockwell, or Madonna becomes interested in Maxfield Parrish, you can kiss that work good by forever. We can only hope that the rest of the herd doesn't notice.)

Having said that, there is also a certain satisfaction in saying the truth out loud. For one thing, it does illustrators good to hear that there are viewers out there who "get it." For another, the television show, The Next Great Artist, is like a circus train derailed into a sewage treatment plant. Anyone who thinks this is a process for producing quality art, or finding the next great artist, is a moron and it would not do them any harm to hear so.

6/14/2010 11:15 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

अर्जुन-- welcome back and thanks for your new video contributions. That song, "Season of the Witch," was written by Donovan and was inspired by an actual incident where the wrathful girlfriend of a band member got revenge on her boyfriend for cheating on her. She informed the police that the band would be smoking dope at a house in the country. Donovan "looked out his window" and saw the "strange" sight of police closing in, so the band scrambled to "pick up every stitch" of marijuana. I am consistently entertained by the incidents that serve as inspiration for the arts. Bob Dylan wrote "The Hour When The Ship Comes In" because some hotel clerk insulted him.

6/14/2010 11:49 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

It is interesting to hear how many of the contestants have fine arts degrees in "accredited" collegiate arts programs. If there is any sensible person out there who hasn't yet noticed that these programs are fraudulent -- merely ways for untalented non-professionals to make money off the gullible and hopeful -- this show should clue them in.

An aside regarding the name of the Asian host: If her name wasn't actually China Chow, calling her "China Chow" would probably be considered racist.

6/14/2010 12:15 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Kev and Stephen-- I didn't mean to suggest that Sontag blamed post modernism on photography. She meant that the entire drift away from representational art and technical skill-- going back to the origins of modern art with Cezanne and the impressionists-- was at least in part a reaction to the fact that the camera could do it better, faster and cheaper. After still photography, movies came along and captured movement better than painting. Then photoshop came along and gave everyone heightened technical skill without having to work at it. The theory is that bit by bit, technology nibbled away at the domain of the artist, and out of a mixture of pride and resentment artists shifted and placed greater importance on areas where cameras could not go.

As you know, I am not a big Warhol fan, although I was pleased to learn from readers of this blog that he had an admirable work ethic.

6/14/2010 12:20 PM  
Blogger Ray said...

Kev,

Just the way YOU said "China Chow" was definitely racist.


David,

A parenthetical observation to you quote,"Then photoshop came along and gave everyone heightened technical skill without having to work at it. The theory is that bit by bit, technology nibbled away at the domain of the artist...."

Unfortunately, technology came along and gave everyone the heightened foolish notion that they are suddenly artists. It always pains me when people who take a course in photoshop or buy a camera suddenly think themselves graphic design professionals (without any clue as to the formal considerations of art like composition, design, typography, color theory, etc.). I had an instance at my firm today where I was trying to communicate to a salesman that merely having a nicer camera does not ensure a professional photograph. It's akin to my saying if I buy a stethoscope, I can become a doctor (granted bad design doesn't potentially result in a patient's death).

It's had the unfortunate result of devaluing the service of professional graphic designers and photographers and lessening the public's reliance on them...which, in turn, allows more bad art and design to see the light of day. Previously, someone's first thought would be to find a designer for their business logo or sign, now they think, "hey, I can do that myself." Yes...you can...but it will probably suck. But, they won't realize it because they're not trained to see it.

Of course, it's a double-edged sword because it's also wonderful how technology has enabled many more people to have access to things that were previously out of reach. Certainly, artist and students have benefited greatly from it, too.

6/14/2010 12:51 PM  
Blogger Laurence John said...

"But the problem actually is the apotheosis of nihilism."

"...and kicking their asses when the slide into the nihilism you are talking about."

"The hallmark of postmodern work from my view, is that it is nihilistic..."

"...even though I am against much of its nihilistic philosophical undercurrents."


i see nihilism as just a natural response to living in a random meaningless corner of the universe and to try to come
to terms with it. what are the anti-nihilists in the audience proposing as an alternative ?

6/14/2010 1:00 PM  
Anonymous norm said...

I just saw the TV show and I kind of liked it.
But, I was bothered that there were no actual artists on the judging panel.
I agreed with the panel's comments and choices though.
I thought it was interesting that the older lady and the hot girl who worked for Koons nailed each other's portraits and yet each disliked the way they were depicted.
I also thought it was funny that the creepy chick who painted her subject nude from imagination, was herself painted as a creepy "undressing you in my mind" kind of person.
I like the way various artists are represented and exposed. Excuses such as being "untrained" "abstract" and "conceptual" are treated for the dodges they are.
All in all...I think this isn't a bad thing.....at least not yet.

6/14/2010 1:26 PM  
Blogger Ray said...

Laurence John said, "i see nihilism as just a natural response to living in a random meaningless corner of the universe and to try to come
to terms with it. what are the anti-nihilists in the audience proposing as an alternative ?"


My take:

You're right. It IS the natural response of that view. However,
for most of Western history (and human history), we didn't hold the view that the universe is random and meaningless. I think art exhibits, since especially the last half of the 20th century (with exceptions, of course), very much the logical by-product of that view.

From the ancient Greeks up until the Enlightenment, acknowledgment of some sort of transcendence informed art and culture...thus making truth, beauty, and the ideal something to shoot for in art instead of, as Roger Scruton ruminated on in his wonderful BBC documentary, the fixation on meaninglessness, the desecration and belittling of the notion of the sacred, etc. It's this sort of nihilism that produces works of "art" such as "Piss Christ" or performance art where a woman artist (whose name escapes me) masturbates in a compartment beneath the floor of a gallery while observers listen. This is artistically taking the historic Western notion that humans are made in the image of God (and should aspire to something greater...have purpose) and turning it on its head and saying humans are merely animals, the products of random processes in a meaningless universe...so let's demonstrate our animalness. It's saying, "This is all we are...shit, piss, copulation, violence, death...and over again."

I'm not trying to convince anyone which view is right, but merely to suggest what the logical outcomes of certain philisophical worldviews have in the arts. Humans act and make art according to what they believe themselves to be. That's why art is such a fascinating and important mirror on ourselves.

I'd love to hear the thoughts of others on this.

6/14/2010 1:39 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Laurence, any run of the mill SOB can be a nihilist. The question is, what is the role of art in human life?

Do we need art to make us more depressed, more hopeless, less interested in the world?

I don't think so.

We don't need more complaints, more bummers, more sad sacks, more confessions to being lost and despondent... we don't need more reminders that products are packaged and sold, that some women don't like to be seen as sexual, that television is stupid, that people can be venal or easily led, that animals die and humans can put them in a tank for exhibit...

We don't need any of that crap. Life is tough enough without constant reminders that "everything sucks, man."

What we need, desperately, I believe, is imaginative renewal and spiritual restoration... and that is what great art, in my estimation, should provide. In short, Art should provide energy and hope... like a good religious experience, rather than depress us and siphon off the precious bits of life we have left.

Misery may love company, but it offers nothing in return.

David, I think where Sontag falls short is where "spiritual renewal" comes in. The camera is a dead instrument, it can't provide sustenance for the soul like that of the work of human being. 100 years ago, the best artists knew that they had to emphasize their originality and personality in their work in order to separate themselves from the camera (There are quotes from Pyle, Wyeth, Gruger, and Cornwell on this point). And this determination to be personal is the very thing that led to the dazzling golden age of illustration.

Personally, I think the great depression destroyed illustration because it destroyed the romantic sensibility, and it did this by destroying the luxury to indulge in romanticism. Materialism won the day for obvious reasons, and the grit of WWII sealed the deal. Coming out of the 40s and into the 50s, illustration became a mere adjunct of the booming advertising industry (while the romantic storytellers were relegated to comic strips and comic books.)

Fantasy Art and Movie Posters kept the romantic storytellers afloat on a raft, and now movie posters are all photos. So all that's left is fantasy art. (The raft is mighty crowded.)

6/14/2010 1:47 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Ray, I assume you were joking when you called me a racist.

If you were joking, it wasn't quite clear.

6/14/2010 1:50 PM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

what are the anti-nihilists in the audience proposing as an alternative ?

Expressing an individual perspective.
Reflecting and commenting on the world around us.
Communicating and connecting with our audience.
Contributing to the continuum of culture to leave the world a little richer than we found it.

We may be an insignificant speck in a backwater corner of the universe, but if we are, that's nothing new. We occupy the same speck as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Rembrandt. Insignificance didn't stop them from creating something of lasting value. There is no excuse for peeing in the cultural pool.

This doesn't mean that one must be all jolly and Sandy Duncan about things all the time. There is a place for constructive satire. But unconstructive cynicism gets us nowhere.

6/14/2010 2:01 PM  
Blogger Ray said...

Kev,

Yes, I was totally joking. Sorry if that was unclear.

6/14/2010 2:09 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

"We've come up with the most powerful technology to communicate in the history of mankind, and we use it to publish videos of brawls in the street and dogs doing funny things."

And what is wrong with videos of street brawls (http://okaytwo.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/duel_after_a_masquerade_ball-large.jpg)

and dogs doing funny things (http://www.designboom.com/history/nipper/3.jpg)?




"I'm trying to figure out how modern culture can take something like the arts- arguably even more cherished by humanity than science and religion put together- and totally trash centuries of accumulated value."

You really think science cherishes artworks more than the medicine, communication devices, transportation systems, advanced agriculture, etc. that keeps us alive and capable of loving one another for 70 years longer than we could pre-technology?


"It's as if culture has committed suicide, and those of us who still value it are isolated cells that just haven't been shut down yet."
Which culture?

I think that which seems like a death to "culture" is just an awakening to reality. As more cultures and more ways of seeing the world enter our conciousnesses it becomes increasingly silly to elevate one "culture" over another, or culture itself over what one might concieve of as brutishness.


"I think that’s why advertisement is so powerful, people don’t know there is a man behind the curtain."
I think you underestimate this 'people' you talk about.



"Most people think art isn’t something that they can do. "
Fortunately making artworks is becoming increasingly easier with Photoshop/cameras/etc so that people are finally expressing themselves.

The fact that some of you don't like how they are expressing themselves because it involves things like cute videos of cats and whatnot are only showing your own elitism, and brainwashing about the actual quality of content of the work made in the past. Is a painting of a dead mythical deity strapped to a pole really so much more enlightened than a video showing the fragility of life through the face of a small creature learning to take its first steps on the cold slippery floor of a middle-class American kitchen?

Why? Because it was harder to produce? Is that really want constitutes good art? So should we be building dams out of legos and digging irrigation trenches with spoons to give them more value?



I'd argue that most people realize drafting realistic pictures is something they could do if they practiced/cared enough to practice for the next ten/fifteen years -- they just don't.

"However, if art weren’t such a mysterious thing to people, if they had been taught in school how to draw for themselves maybe artists wouldn’t look so much like mystical Egyptian scribes."

It is a myth that the average joe concieves of art as mystical. It is mostly mediocre artists, and mere 'art-appreciators' who think art is somehow mystical.
The average Joe understands that skill in the arts is no more elevated or magical than the skill of a football player or mechanic.

The average joe doesn't avoid becoming an artist because he thinks its impossible, he avoids it because it is attached to haughty pretensious culture, which the average joe usually looks on with distaste. The average joe avoids art because he, rightly, sees that it is a bloated field with very little real world value.

6/14/2010 2:09 PM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

I think that which seems like a death to "culture" is just an awakening to reality.

Every culture creates its own reality in its own image. And each one provides a glimpse at a different aspect of humanity. I don't subscribe to the theory of progress when it comes to humanity. We don't necessarily know any more about the true meaning behind life than the ancient Greeks or the Aztecs did. But we can be aware of what the Greeks and Aztecs created and hopefully build on that.

YouTube videos of kittens are not artistic statements that can enrich our culture. They're simply the product of ignorant amateurs. "How many monkeys with typewriters..." If viewing a YouTube video of a kitten says something profound, it's because observing life is a great way to learn about life. Once we observe, then it's our job as creative artists to make sense of that observation and give it a context.

It is possible to use a camera as a tool to make a great artistic statement. But holding a camera in your hand doesnt make you an artist any more than holding a paintbrush does. The statement is coming from the eyes and brain behind the camera, not the device itself. An ignorant and untrained set of eyes and brain can only observe. It takes the mind of an artist to organize those observations into a context that makes a statement. Art can't be created randomly.

Recently, there has been a trend to celebrate ignorance as if not knowing anything makes one "pure and unspoiled". Purity doesn't come from ignorance. It comes from knowledge and strength.

6/14/2010 2:35 PM  
Blogger Ray said...

Kev said, "We don't need any of that crap. Life is tough enough without constant reminders that "everything sucks, man."

While I don't think that art should narrowed to only serve to make us happier, I agree that a bit more introspection about what kind of art we produce and what affect it has on us could be helpful. It's interesting that often this type of art shows up in the most affluent societies where life should suck the least.

I think a lot of art along this line is an aesthetic expression of coddled, narcissistic children who (at risk of sounding like my parents) don't know what hard times really are. No always, but often, you'll find the greatest artistic expressions of hope in places where there isn't much to be hopeful about.

6/14/2010 2:44 PM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

It is a myth that the average joe concieves of art as mystical.

That isn't true. Lately a group of my friends have been flabbergasted and amused at a new phenomenon at YouTube... "speed painting". An "artist" comes out on stage and proceeds to slop seemingly random blobs of color on a canvas. He works at a frenetic pace and it looks like a mess. After a few minutes he turns to the audience with a wink and turns the canvas upside down. Bam! It's a picture of Jesus or a Bengal tiger or something. The audience gasps, then explodes with cheers and applause. (as seen on Oprah!)

To any artist watching, it's just a hack applying paint to a formula with his brain on autopilot. To the average person, it's magic.

I can't tell you how many art students I meet who still believe that drawing is something that comes to you in a flash of inspiration. I explain it's a skill that requires hard work, thought and lots of practice, and they glaze over. They dearly want it to be magic.

Anyone who thinks that normal people don't think of art as mystical have never drawn a nice flattering caricature of a pretty waitress on the back of a napkin and given it to her. Try it!

6/14/2010 2:50 PM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

I think a lot of art along this line is an aesthetic expression of coddled, narcissistic children who (at risk of sounding like my parents) don't know what hard times really are.

That's the hippy baby boomers. Why do we expect that coddled, narcissistic children won't grow up to be coddled, narcissistic adults? (and I say that as a baby boomer myself) The one great failing in "the great generation" was what they passed on to the next one.

6/14/2010 2:59 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Every culture creates its own reality in its own image.

"And each one provides a glimpse at a different aspect of humanity. I don't subscribe to the theory of progress when it comes to humanity. We don't necessarily know any more about the true meaning behind life than the ancient Greeks or the Aztecs did."
Doesn't the idea that there is no progress fly completely in the face of your very next sentence when you suggest --
"But we can be aware of what the Greeks and Aztecs created and hopefully build on that." Is that not a view of progress? To think that there is "building" on what people did before?

"YouTube videos of kittens are not artistic statements that can enrich our culture. They're simply the product of ignorant amateurs. "How many monkeys with typewriters..." If viewing a YouTube video of a kitten says something profound, it's because observing life is a great way to learn about life. Once we observe, then it's our job as creative artists to make sense of that observation and give it a context."

Do you honestly believe that the creation and filtering of art democratically on youtube is so far different from the creation and filtering of art in the middle ages? Lots of people made art then just as now, some pieces are appreciated because the audience sees value in them and others are ignored because people do not see value in them. To choose to film a cute video of a cat is equally as intentional as choosing to paint a quiet and dark portrait of a parisian woman. The evolution of what was appreciated is all that has changed.

"Art can't be created randomly."
Well, randomly implies something that not everyone would take for granted. I don't see it as random when something in life is itself a piece of art, I think it is a manifestation of the organizing principles behind this universe as much as the evolution of man and art itself is. Randomness and order are in reality meaningless -- there is only what has happened, what happens and what will happen. Man is equally a "random accident" as any stain on the floor -- and I dare you to call him not a brilliant piece of art.

Besides, if you wouldn't call a single video on youtube a piece of art, you must agree that the principles behind youtube -- posting of videos and their being viewed by their popularity was created quite conciously and as a whole is itself an a piece of meta-art created collectively by people the world over.


"Recently, there has been a trend to celebrate ignorance as if not knowing anything makes one 'pure and unspoiled'. Purity doesn't come from ignorance. It comes from knowledge and strength."

It is not ignorance that is being celebrated, it's the AWARENESS of one's own ignorance that is being celebrated. The awareness that comes from the great thinkers and teachers of history, whos greatest lesson was always to doubt because it is by doubting that we can learn new ways to see.

Jesus and Socrates, Lao Tzu, Buddha and Descartes.

Ignorance isn't a weakness, it is in the very nature of our essences on this Earth and to admit it and to embrace the mystery that is intrinsic to our very lives.

6/14/2010 3:02 PM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

I'd argue that most people realize drafting realistic pictures is something they could do if they practiced/cared enough to practice for the next ten/fifteen years -- they just don't.

The average joe doesn't avoid becoming an artist because he thinks its impossible, he avoids it because it is attached to haughty pretensious culture.


Which is it? Is it because they're too lazy to develop a skill, or are the trying to avoid being haughty? If you ask me, the latter is just an excuse to cover for the former.

6/14/2010 3:06 PM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

Doesn't the idea that there is no progress fly completely in the face of your very next sentence when you suggest

Progress was the wrong word to use. I should have said that I don't believe that modern society doesn't have any more of an idea of what the truth is than any other culture. But we can at least be informed about how previous cultures saw the truth

6/14/2010 3:11 PM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

Ack. Double negative. Hopefully you get the idea

6/14/2010 3:12 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

"Anyone who thinks that normal people don't think of art as mystical have never drawn a nice flattering caricature of a pretty waitress on the back of a napkin and given it to her."

From experience it is something along the lines of grins and gasps and "Oh thats so good I could never do that, etc. etc.", but you must realize that these people still understand it's a human trait --

this waitress would likely respond exactly the same way to the guy who pulls over and gets her car started when she is stranded on the side of the road, or the person who helps her pass her GED, or the person who shows her how to upload her digital camera pictures to her laptop.

People who don't know how something is done will usually respond quite positively to those who do know how it's done, but they don't literally think it's magic or mystical, or that they could never do it.

They just think it's neat.

6/14/2010 3:14 PM  
Blogger Ray said...

To Stephen Worth:

I agree with you. However, I think that if a society at large truly believes it is a insignificant speck in a backwater corner of the universe, its art will necessarily largely reflect that belief. It has to. The difference between current artists who reflect the prevailing view versus Michelangelo and Rembrandt, for instance, is that Michelangelo and Rembrandt didn't believe we were insignificant — and their art reflected that.

I'm not saying that someone who believes life and the universe is the result of random processes can't produce beautiful and profound art. What I am saying is that, as a whole, a society who holds to nihilism will probably produce the kind of art we've seen for the last 60 years or so.

6/14/2010 3:18 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

"Which is it? Is it because they're too lazy to develop a skill, or are the trying to avoid being haughty? If you ask me, the latter is just an excuse to cover for the former."

Not wanting to spend a lot of time learning how to draw is not necesarilly laziness. Not everyone thinks so highly of the arts as those who read Illustration Art do.
The Average Joe does something well -- eudaimonia is pretty common. Be it football or mechanics or telling jokes or painting landscapes.

There is no reason to think the average person is very lazy. Most people work really damn hard all day long so that they can live and feed their families. Art is just not that important when you get down into the nitty gritty of life and love.

6/14/2010 3:19 PM  
Blogger Ray said...

To Stephen,

"The one great failing in "the great generation" was what they passed on to the next one."

QFT

6/14/2010 3:22 PM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

you must agree that the principles behind youtube -- posting of videos and their being viewed by their popularity was created quite conciously and as a whole is itself an a piece of meta-art created collectively by people the world over.

YouTube is a medium, not a work of art in itself.
Art isn't democratic, it's personal.
Ignorance is curable.

6/14/2010 3:23 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

"Art isn't democratic, it's personal."
Yes, but why?

"Ignorance is curable."
Well, obviously we both agree about this to some degree or we wouldn't be conversing this way.

6/14/2010 3:27 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

If two people had painted your favourite works of Art together as a group would that really have been all it would take to stop it from being Art?

What if it was three people?

If four?

6/14/2010 3:31 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Most people do not have imagination enough to appreciate that not all minds are alike. They assume everybody is like them.

In my experience, most people are generally stunned to find evidence of actual talent presented before their eyes. And like most people who are stunned by some phenomena, each will "explain" it to themselves according to their ready worldview.

So some will say "oh, you are gifted by God with divine inspiration", some will say, "you're a real-life magician!", some will say, "boy, you've really taken that talent to the next level," and some others will say, "You copied that!" even though you drafted the damn thing right under their noses!

I happen to like videos of kitties doing cute things. I think the internet is a great way to share unvarnished reality in all its horror, humor, brutality, and cuteness.

Reality isn't Art, however, and neither are people. Unless you think the word "art" has the same definition as the word "noun" ... which would mean there's no such thing as aesthetics.

6/14/2010 3:42 PM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

Michelangelo and Rembrandt didn't believe we were insignificant

Actually, they did. They just believed in a spirit higher than any of us as individuals. There's no reason that humanists shouldn't see the human spirit in the exact same way.

6/14/2010 3:44 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

"Reality isn't Art [...] Unless you think the word 'art' has the same definition as the word 'noun' ... which would mean there's no such thing as aesthetics."

Well, I wouldn't say Art is synonymous with "noun", perhaps something like "sign" would be more appropriate if taken in the semiological sense.

If you are not familiar;
"In semiotics, a sign is "something that stands for something, to someone in some capacity"[1] It may be understood as a discrete unit of meaning, and includes words, images, gestures, scents, tastes, textures, sounds – essentially all of the ways in which information can be communicated as a message by any sentient, reasoning mind to another."

6/14/2010 3:48 PM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

"Art isn't democratic, it's personal."
Yes, but why?


Because on really important issues, we can only really speak for ourselves.

6/14/2010 3:49 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

"Because on really important issues, we can only really speak for ourselves."

Sure, far-be-it from the realm of artists to try to speak for us all.

Because, well, then he might make works that communicate our fundamental humanity in ways that we can all appreciate and understand. Or. Something. Equally. Heinous.

6/14/2010 3:56 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Oh, I forgot to wink.

;-)

6/14/2010 4:05 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Richard, I think everybody here understands that Art signifies and that semiotics is just the "modernist" word for symbolism.

I assume you are abandoning the idea that a human being is man-created sign in the same way that Art is a man created sign, yes?

And of course, there are obvious and relevant distinctions that separate a work of Art from a work of Literature or Poetry or a Road Sign. All types of signs inform, but not in the same way, not with equal creativity or personality, and not with equal depth. And each type of sign language tends to present a particular type of sign-information best, which is the reason for its development.

A Rembrandt is a wholly different order of sign than "No Parking."

6/14/2010 4:34 PM  
Blogger Ray said...

Stephen Worth responded to my quote of, "Michelangelo and Rembrandt didn't believe we were insignificant."

by saying...

"Actually, they did. They just believed in a spirit higher than any of us as individuals. There's no reason that humanists shouldn't see the human spirit in the exact same way."


Stephen,

Yes. You're right. I phrased that badly. They believed that the universe had ultimate purpose because of a Creator and that we are part of that purpose...hence the call to aspire to something greater. The ancient Greeks also had the notion of transcendence, a higher first-cause, that enabled them to aspire to something that didn't exist here on earth.

This is in stark contrast to nihilism which just says what is is and all we are are combined chemicals resulting from a fluke of randomness with no ultimate purpose.

Regarding humanism, I think it can allow a "let's make the best of it" approach...as in, let's make our own meaning in a meaningless universe. It can even try to paint humans as god-like and seek to pull up humanity. But, without a true believe in actual transcendence, it just seems like a bit of grandstanding to me. I guess I think humanism allows for pockets of light and order in chaos whereas belief in transcendence can sustain it for the long haul (as it did in Western society until it was ultimately rejected by the Enlightement). That's one reason why I think the Enlightenment and its high humanistic aspirations quickly (historically speaking) gave way to the rampant nihilism we see culturally today.

I'm not trained in philosophy, so I put this view across with some humility and am open to critique on it. I'm very quickly entering a realm where I don't feel qualified to make many dogmatic assertions.

6/14/2010 4:54 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

David Apatoff said...
"I agree with Susan Sontag that the rise of photography played an important role in art's migration away from representational work and technical skill."

I think the stylistic environment that the camera appeared in is also critical, and that the Baroque is a important landmark. Baroque art in general was design and decoration-intensive. As it fell out of favor, I see successive movements (Neo-Classicism, Romanticism, Academic, etc.) as being, whether intentional or not, all movements towards realism. Then, along came photography beating realism at it's own game, and completely blindsiding the art momentum that was centuries in the making and on a course not easily altered. I believe the negative impact the camera had would not have been nearly so severe had it appeared during the Baroque, if one is willing to entertain such an untestable and unprovable theory.

6/14/2010 5:22 PM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

I have a wall full of art books that are proof to me of the transcendent power of culture. If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, it may or may not make a sound. But if a great artist paints the tree falling in a burst of creative inspiration, we have a chance for it to fall forever. Immortality of the human body is impossible, but if properly respected and maintained, the human spirit can be immortal. The problem with nihilism is that it denies its responsibility to humanity, and becomes its own self fulfilling prophecy.

Today, I got a volume of Simplicissimus in the mail. No magazine was ever more critical of society and pessimistic in its outlook. But it wasn't nihilistic. Gulbansson, Heine, Wilke and Paul managed to find beauty in decadence and clarity in chaos. Instead of laying down and letting inevitability lull us into laziness, we should be standing up and fighting until we can't fight any more. If you want purpose in life in a chaotic world, there's a good one.

6/14/2010 6:06 PM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

far-be-it from the realm of artists to try to speak for us all

Although great art may end up touching on universal truths, it usually starts out expressing a personal one. Artists that intend to speak for everyone usually fall under the category of propagandist... Not that propaganda is necessarily a bad thing in the proper place and time.

6/14/2010 6:12 PM  
Blogger Laurence John said...

Stephen: "Robert Hughes* is absolutely correct in placing the origin of this shift in cultural values to the mid 1960s. Andy Warhol was one of the key figures who tore down everything it had taken centuries to build, but he wasn't alone."


i'd go back to Dada in Europe being the origin of the "shift in cultural values" which artistically led to Rauschenberg and other pop artists, and subsequently post-modernism.
you have to remember that Dada was a reaction to the horrors of the first world war and the society that led into it. i think Dada (nihilism) was a natural response to the disillusionment felt by many toward the church and state in the aftermath of that war, and a world that seemed Godless and chaotic.

i suspect it all boils down to new atheist art vs old Christian art. notice that Roger Scruton uses religious language such as 'desecration' and 'sacred' when describing the demise of modern art in the clip linked to in David's last post. it's obvious that Christian values are what is at stake although he shies away from directly saying so. the 'desecration' of high culture is really just an attempted overthrow of the old Christianity-dominated art. it's the teenagers rebelling against the parents with outrageous behavior and sweary t-shirts. nothing to really worry about. it will all calm down in another 100 years or so. the old culture hasn't been 'torn down'. it's still there in museums to go and look at.



*i was also a little surprised to see Mr. Hughes was such a fan of Rauschenberg, someone you'd have thought he'd have lumped in with Warhol.
also, did you notice how much his old pal Rosenquist's work resembles the post-modern paintings Hughes derides ?

6/14/2010 6:18 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Rob Howard wrote: "Tell us where you see this lack of putrefecation in illustration. Where do you see anything we haven't seen since the 1980's. It's all so familiar...."

Rob, I think you and I have different standards for putrefaction. Illustration is often repetitive or mediocre or under-motivated, but I don't view those sins in the same league with the kind of hypocrisy and venality and odious behavior that permeates much of the fine art market today. Perhaps it's because the stakes in illustration are so low, they're not enough to pay for an artist's immortal soul. Illustrators squabble over crumbs, so it is hardly worth the effort to put on a custom tailored suit and a spray tan to mouth pretentious platitudes.

By the way, I don't disagree with you about Soyer, but then I didn't post his art, merely his recollection of the art market (which I thought was right on the money).

6/14/2010 6:31 PM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

the old culture hasn't been 'torn down'. it's still there in museums to go and look at.

Culture doesn't survive pickled in formaldehyde. Museums are becoming even less relevant than skill based creativity.

6/14/2010 6:32 PM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

David, the difference between the fine art market and illustration is like the difference between murder and starvation. I don't know that one is any better than the other.

I spoke the other day with Bakshi, who was a close friend of Frazetta. He told me he thinks something valuable died with him. I tried to argue that there were great young artists ready for their chance at bat, and Ralph said, "How can they make their mark if society doesn't value illustration and cartooning any more?" I had no answer for that, but it doesn't matter to me or the talented kids I see every day. Our lot is cast. We have no choice but to go where our passion takes us.

6/14/2010 6:40 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

"I assume you are abandoning the idea that a human being is man-created sign in the same way that Art is a man created sign, yes?"

There definitely *seems* to be "man" which could be opposed to "not-man", but if we look back at our evolutionary history there isn't a clear separation between the first human and what is not human (this is a problem of the heap, if you know my meaning) and in that way there is no real object human being that is any less a sign than an art object is.

"And of course, there are obvious and relevant distinctions that separate a work of Art from a work of Literature or Poetry or a Road Sign."

There is greater difference between a classical painting that makes you giggle and one that doesn't than there is between a classical painting that makes you giggle and a youtube video that makes you giggle.

"All types of signs inform, but not in the same way, not with equal creativity or personality,"

True, this comes from the person using them and the person interpreting them. Starting with the most creative sign maker, infinity, and the least creative sign maker, whoever that may be. A poor soul indeed. It all comes down to who uses signs the best, and how they use them during their momentary infinite lifespan to interact best with themself, their other selves and god.

"and not with equal depth. And each type of sign language tends to present a particular type of sign-information best, which is the reason for its development. "

Depth comes from a moment explored by a soul embracing life, not a painting with lots of super deep symbolism and flashy academic glazing techniques. If I wanted super deep symbolism and flashy techniques I'd stick my head in a bucket of flash cards about WW2 and painting medium. If you know my meaning.

6/14/2010 7:41 PM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

To be eloquent you need to have mastery over words. That means learning vocabulary and grammar, as mundane as that might seem. To be visually expressive, you have to have mastery over technique. That means skill in rendering and composing.

Technique isn't an end in itself, but it certainly is a beginning. A limited visual vocabulary leads to limited ability to express ideas.

Of course in the crud we're discussing here, there's neither technique nor ideas.

6/14/2010 7:57 PM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

i'd go back to Dada in Europe being the origin of the "shift in cultural values" which artistically led to Rauschenberg and other pop artists, and subsequently post-modernism.

In fine art, yes. The rest of the arts and popular culture didn't begin to really decline until the baby boomers started to come of age.

6/14/2010 8:02 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

A.K.A. "Richard",

I spent nearly 11 hours at my drawing board today. So your interest in denying the role of authorship in art holds no value to me.

A guarantee that neither infinity nor the zeitgeist can draw hands or ink hair.

6/14/2010 10:01 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6/14/2010 10:38 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6/14/2010 10:40 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

**Deleted comments: Needed editing for clarity.

Kev--

Why "A.K.A. 'Richard',"? I apologize if this should be obvious.

"I spent nearly 11 hours at my drawing board today. So your interest in denying the role of authorship in art holds no value to me. "

You more than anyone should know that ideas that clash with your own hold the greatest value. We grow not by chorus but by counterpoint.

As for an interest in denying authorship, I'd like you to know that it is not a personally invested interest. Merely an exploratory interest. I've held for a long time the belief that representational art was paramount, just last week I started a sub-Reddit in hopes of drumming up some interest in art with a classical bent. (http://www.reddit.com/r/museum/)

If you are trying to suggest that I am somehow against the idea of "skill", the value of "technique" and the influence of "authorship" to a point of rigidity than you are overestimating the severity of my argumentation.

I merely think that in trying to set yourself against those artists who are more interested in the conceptual aspects of art that you have lost just as much of the big picture as they have.

I was hoping to get you to rethink something, anything. A failure, unfortunately.

I'm young, and thus always overly hopeful that I can convince those older than myself to reexamine the way they look at the world. We young people are notorious for this, as I guess it usually turns out the old people are doing the exact same thing, just more subtly.

Anyway, try something new tomorrow.

Why not right? Couldn't hurt.

"A guarantee that neither infinity nor the zeitgeist can draw hands or ink hair."
I think that is an underestimation.

6/14/2010 10:45 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Call me nutty, but as a really old guy (http://www.facebook.com/people/Kev-Ferrara/1036632669) I'm kind of a stickler for the old ways...

Like arguing what one actually believes, rather than dodging intellectual commitment by playing "devil's advocate"...

Like believing in the self-fulfilling prophecy of human agency...

Like ignoring PoMo word games that I've already "played" through and discarded...

Like expecting that "concepts" be more subtle and profound than the one-line jokes or illustrations of ideological dogma that tend to spit out from under the banner of postmodernism at regular intervals...

Understand, I've been to DIA:Beacon... the very heart of postmodern darkness, in my view. So I know what the enemy of Art looks like. (A pile of sand on the floor. Wood stacked in a room by the maintenance people, a hole in the floor, 16 Andy Warhol colored photoprints, identical except for color, collages where the main interest, placed dead center, is somebody else's magazine cover illustration, an uninteresting array of flourescent light fixtures, etc.)

And I have a collection of postmodern "artist's statements" from my gallery travels in my desk, each more meaningless and jargon filled than the next. So I know what the enemy of art is saying.

I am speaking from experience, not ignorance. I know the enemy of art, and I am against it. Period.

Which is all to say, while I do relish a well thought-out challenge to my beliefs, anything resembling postmodern talking points isn't going to make the grade. Postmodernism is mentally weak and stupefies anybody who puts stock in it.

6/14/2010 11:49 PM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

I wonder if anyone really believes in post modernism. Perhaps everyone is either playing devil's advocate, tickled by its contrariness, or deeply invested into it as a moneymaking venture.

6/15/2010 2:01 AM  
Blogger Kagan M. said...

I love Donovan! (And Julie Driscoll)
Great post, again. Sorry not to offer anything more than that, I'm just a happy spectator.

6/15/2010 2:06 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

Well, kev, I wouldn't say you look *really* old. Just old enough that you've started closing your mind off to completely valid art-paradigms -- forever limiting your ability to stay relevant in the context of those equally skilled but ultimately more openminded then yourself.

"I wonder if anyone really believes in post modernism. Perhaps everyone is either playing devil's advocate, tickled by its contrariness, or deeply invested into it as a moneymaking venture."

Wouldn't that be great, if all the art viewers of the world were just kidding when they said they respected and enjoyed this new form of art that you don't respect or enjoy -- yeah, maybe then they would all just change their mind and you'd all get famous for your representationalism and Bougereau would be given a gold medal.

6/15/2010 7:41 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

A.K.A. "Richard"

You're a funny guy. I'm particularly enjoying how you're using the word "close-minded" over and over, like an annoying capuchin monkey ringing his favorite bell.

“An open mind is all very well in its way, but it ought not to be so open that there is no keeping anything in or out of it. It should be capable of shutting its doors sometimes, or it may be found a little draughty.” ~ Samuel Butler

And thank you for calling me as "equally skilled" as the guy who makes a pile of sand on the floor of the gallery. Funny funny capuchin monkey... ring that bell!

6/15/2010 12:52 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

"I'm particularly enjoying how you're using the word "close-minded" over and over, like an annoying capuchin monkey ringing his favorite bell."
Logical Fallacy #1: Classic logical fallacy, Argumentum ad hominem.

“An open mind is all very well in its way, but it ought not to be so open that there is no keeping anything in or out of it. It should be capable of shutting its doors sometimes, or it may be found a little draughty.” ~ Samuel Butler
Logical Fallacy #s 2&3:Fallacy of defective induction, argument from authority (on your part) & informal fallacy, slippery slope argument (on Samuel Butler's part).

"And thank you for calling me as 'equally skilled' as the guy who makes a pile of sand on the floor of the gallery."

Logical Fallacay #4: Fallacy of quantificational logic, proof by example.
I know that x, which is a member of group X, has the property P.
Therefore, all other elements of X have the property P.
In otherwords, I am better than fictional/anonymous sandpile maker, and fictional/anonymous sandpile maker is a Post-Modernist, thus I am better than all Post-Modernists.

"Funny funny capuchin monkey... ring that bell!"
Repeat of Logical Fallacy #1.

6/15/2010 1:24 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

"I wonder if anyone really believes in post modernism. Perhaps everyone is either playing devil's advocate, tickled by its contrariness, or deeply invested into it as a moneymaking venture."

I would, also, just like to point out that I think you all misunderstand what Post-modern means.

Perhaps you should take a look at the Wikipedia entry.

Included movements in Post-modernism are;
Neo-Classical Realism, Conceptual art, Installation art, Lowbrow art, Performance art, Multimedia art, neo-Surrealism, New Media, Intermedia art, Appropriation art , and Neo-expressionism.

If you really think that these artists don't really believe in what they are doing I think you ought to think again.

For example, do you think Ron Mueck doesn't take what he is doing incredibly seriously?

His self portrait looks pretty damn serious to me.

http://twistedsifter.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/ron-mueck-face-on-side-self-portrait-hyperrealistic.jpg

And if you really don't think that people like this work, why do these children look so genuinely excited?

http://www.woostercollective.com/tom-hine_contextual-face_bristol.jpg

And if installation art is really so pointless, why am I overwhelmed with child-like excitement when thinking about the prospect of entering this installation.

http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_kya1xzKzJl1qz8drpo1_r1_500.jpg

And quiet contemplation when exploring this installation --

http://c0573862.cdn.cloudfiles.rackspacecloud.com/1/0/31246/429554/wt09lg-735x247_905.jpg

Is this really all just to make anti-Post-Modernists angry? Really?

6/15/2010 2:04 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

A.K.A. "Richard",

I'm not sure why you have become so emotional, but the "reasoning" of your last post is all over the place.

There is no cause to post in such a desperate manner. Its just a blog.

So rather than politicking for the position of "comment board logician-in-residence," using advanced cut and paste intellectualism :) why not just let it go and get back to the topic.

If you have a defense of a pile of sand in a gallery or if you like "the next great art star" I think everybody would like to hear a discussion of that. And I think we would all prefer to hear your own considered thoughts, rather than those cribbed from other sources.

Best,
kev

6/15/2010 2:09 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Sorry, was cross posting.

Just because some writer starts lumping together a bunch of different art forms under the banner of postmodernism, that doesn't mean there is any similarity between the items.

Taxonomically, the Heller/Chwast (and the wiki entry that probably derives from it) inclusiveness is anti-instructive.

If you have a childlike enthusiasm for installation art, good for you. I have childlike distaste for it.

6/15/2010 2:13 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

"the 'reasoning' of your last post is all over the place."
I would love to hear how you could argue that.

"get back to the topic."
Oh, I'm sorry, what is the topic that I am missing?

"If you have a defense of a pile of sand in a gallery"
Again, using a member of a group to stand for the whole. Do you not understand why this kind of arguement doesn't stand up to reason?

"or if you like 'the next great art star'"
Haven't seen it, sounds fine though.

As for "cribbing"; Providing references does not count as plaigerism.

6/15/2010 2:19 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

"I have childlike distaste for it."

That's unfortunate that you cannot enjoy it.

That reminds me of the poor saps who can't appreciate Hip-hop, or Rock and Roll before that, or Jazz, Blues, Impressionist Classical and so on -- simply because they are so stuck as to think they know what "real music" is, and can't for the life see that they look like the fool, the square, (like their parents before them) to all those who see through their shallow tools of ego-protection.

6/15/2010 2:26 PM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

Well, kev, I wouldn't say you look *really* old. Just old enough that you've started closing your mind off to completely valid art-paradigms -- forever limiting your ability to stay relevant in the context of those equally skilled but ultimately more openminded then yourself.

Well, Mr Swami, I'm impressed that you are able to judge open mindedness and relevance by gazing intently at a photograph of someone. Me? I have to do it the hard way. I look at people's work. It's easy to do that by clicking through the person's name on the comment. I've done just that and I've reached my conclusions.

Say goodnight, Gracie.

...but of course you're too young to get the reference.

6/15/2010 2:51 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Dear Sap-Fool-caller,

Again, you are getting too emotional. Relax.

This should be simple: Items may be grouped under a particular philosophical banner if they are philosophically consistent.

DIA beacon is filled with items that are philosophically consistent. One "work" does indeed represent all. There are many other works that share the same postmodern philosophy.

If you want to subscribe to a meaningless taxonomy that lumps together works that have no philosophical consistency, you go right ahead. Personally, I don't bow down before The Word just because IT IS WRITTEN.

We either think for ourselves, or there will be no thinking.

6/15/2010 2:57 PM  
Anonymous norm said...

"It should be added that the reductive quality of the purity of line visually and conceptually activates the exploration of montage elements."

(anyone ever run across Pixelmaven's instant art critique phrase generator?
I't pretty fun for a few minutes...then it gets predictable....but still cool)

6/15/2010 3:03 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

That's funny, you should be too young to get that reference as well, at least first-hand.

As for the comment about age, I'm sorry if I was unclear. You are obviously not "very" old, just old. Pre-civilization you'd be the oldest guy in the tribe by fifteen years.

It's your words that make clear that you've grown old enough that you've started closing your mind off, not your photograph -- the way the ego of those older than 25 really start to solidify is a funny thing, I'm sure you witnessed that with your Baby Boomer parents.

You think you know what "great art" is, but deep down inside you it all comes back to fear.

Fear the fact that you can draw doesn't mean shit to most people, and sure as hell doesn't mean shit to the youth of today if you don't have shit to say -- and whining about artforms we like and respect don't count.

And that's what the Post-Modernists were all about, not technique but about actually saying something and that scares you.

And you'll never ever admit it because it would damage your precious little ego that you've been massaging these past few decades. But remember, someday you will die and no one will care about anything that y'all had to say in your quest to defend those egos.

We're going to care about what speaks to us on a visceral level, and yes, that's often installation art, and graffiti, and hip-hop, and cartoons, and soundscapes, and drugs, and piles of sand, and all the shit that you little poor bastards can't get your little peckers out of your own faces long to see.

If you can't keep up then you have grown irrelevant. Sure, you make have some technique to teach us, go for it. Sure, you may be able to sell some people on your art, enjoy.

But you should know, and I think you probably do somewhere deep down inside you, in the words of the Borg; resistance is futile.

6/15/2010 3:07 PM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

There's an interesting theory among young people today. It's the belief that all things are created equal. All it takes is the ability to "appreciate" and suddenly we're supposed to accept as a given that hip hop exists on the same level as jazz, and post modernism is just as valid as the art of the Renaissance. I think this comes from the platitudes spouted by cartoons in the 1980s... "we're all the same inside!" "you have your opinion and I have mine!" "we can get things done if we all realize that we're the same and work together!"

Well, the truth is that the Smurfs were a lie. All opinions are not created equal. Some are supported by evidence, and some are made of thin air and belligerence. All people are not created equal. Some have talent and skill, and some coast through with a flurry of self justifying words. All art is not equal. Some is based on expressing real ideas and beliefs, and some are bald faced ploys to trick people out of their money.

Nothing is all bad or all good, but that doesn't mean that some things aren't more valuable and worthwhile than others. Kids like to see things in black and white. That is a far more comfortable way to view the world than by getting down in the trenches and trying to puzzle out relative value. What appears to a young person as close mindedness is often just experience.

6/15/2010 3:17 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Hahahah...

Well, "richard"... I'm super glad you've elected yourself spokesperson for the youth of today.

And don't let the fact that postmodernism starts in about 1912 deter you from insisting that postmodernism is a youth movement. Doh!

I guess "youth" are a monolith, but postmodernism is any old thing. (Nevermind how many young artists are actually learning to draw these days, and are rejecting the old hat BS of PoMo.)

Whateves.

You make me laugh, man. Your arrogance is a work of art. Only rivaled by the purity of your cluelessness.

Oh, and let's not forget that the capuchin monkey found a new bell to ring...

Deep in your heart... is FEAR!

Deep in your heart... is FEAR!

Deep in your heart... is FEAR!

Ring-a-ling-a-ding!

Grow up, man. You can't remain 16 for the rest of your life. And the BORG isn't going to support you forever.

6/15/2010 3:29 PM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

But remember, someday you will die and no one will care about anything that y'all had to say in your quest to defend those egos.

That would be true if all we planned on leaving behind were a bunch of words and empty concepts. But when someone creates something tangible with real value, their creation might live on for thousands of years after their deaths. I've thought about this and I'm building something more important than me. I plan for it to outlast me. What have you created of lasting value today?

6/15/2010 3:29 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

"Nothing is all bad or all good, but that doesn't mean that some things aren't more valuable and worthwhile than others. Kids like to see things in black and white. That is a far more comfortable way to view the world than by getting down in the trenches and trying to puzzle out relative value."

That's funny because I think in general it is the exact opposite, it is the old who think in Black and White -- for example, incapability to understand that both Representationalism and Abstract Expressionist Installation art can be valuable forms of expression for valuable, albeit differing, sensations. The young are far less likely to throw one entire area of art out with such ease as that.

"There's an interesting theory among young people today. It's the belief that all things are created equal."
Well, growing up in a world of pluarality you realizes there are no binaries, things are just relative, and no one thing is bad or good. Things have context, and given their context they derive value, given different context they may not derive equal value. There is no objective context in which to make these value judgements.

"All it takes is the ability to "appreciate" and suddenly we're supposed to accept as a given that hip hop exists on the same level as jazz, and post modernism is just as valid as the art of the Renaissance."
Yes, often all it takes is the ability to appreciate. Republicans can't appreciate the Democrats' social liberalism. The Democrats don't understand the Republicans' fiscal conservativism. Old white people can't appreciate rap for it's clear-eyed poetry. Inner-city black people can't appreciate Debbussey for his chromaticism.

I don't think these things are 'equal' nor 'un-equal'. You are just comparing apples and oranges. You are oversimplifying everything if you think that one of these things is just simply better than the other.

It only shows your lack of experience and general ignorance.

6/15/2010 3:33 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

"Well, 'richard'... I'm super glad you've elected yourself spokesperson for the youth of today."
Well, I am the one young person in this conversation, and a huge part of this disagreement has to do with the blindness your age has cast upon you.

"And don't let the fact that postmodernism starts in about 1912 deter you from insisting that postmodernism is a youth movement. Doh!"
I'm not sure what makes you think I believe postmodernism is a youth movement. If anything our youth movement is neo-sincerity and DIY, but generation-Y supports all forms of expression and your reactionary stance is strictly in opposition to this.

"Nevermind how many young artists are actually learning to draw these days, and are rejecting the old hat BS of PoMo."
And do you know what they are doing with those skills? Not painting flowers like Nelson Shanks or any of the other neo-realist hacks they learn the classical techniques from, thats for damn sure. They're taking those skills and applying them to things relevant. That's the distinction.

"You make me laugh, man. Your arrogance is a work of art. Only rivaled by the purity of your cluelessness."
Pot Kettle Black


"Deep in your heart... is FEAR!

Deep in your heart... is FEAR!

Deep in your heart... is FEAR!"

And I would say it a thousand times more! It is true for all humanity and is one of the greatest road blocks to art and everything else we're trying to get done on this god-forsaken rock.

6/15/2010 3:48 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

"What have you created of lasting value today? "

Well, I published about 40 new texts to Amazon.com today for the publishing firm I work for -- other than that, I smoked less cigarettes today, that should have some minor lasting value. Oh, and I managed not to eat any meat today, which I feel very positive about.

6/15/2010 3:50 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

"I've thought about this and I'm building something more important than me. I plan for it to outlast me."

I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

6/15/2010 3:52 PM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

I don't think these things are 'equal' nor 'un-equal'. You are just comparing apples and oranges. You are oversimplifying everything if you think that one of these things is just simply better than the other.

That pretty much proves my point.

The sphinx asks a question...

Do you know what man can create that outlasts the lifespan of the individual' who created it or even stones and sand? What can we create that can exist for as long as mankind exists?

6/15/2010 4:03 PM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

It only shows your lack of experience and general ignorance.

That may be true, but I'm afraid you aren't old enough to be qualified to be able to express an opinion on those particular subjects.

6/15/2010 4:10 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

"That pretty much proves my point."

Well, no. Once again, you are comparing Apples and Oranges. This does not mean that they are equal, but that they are non-comparable.

It would seem just as silly to me as if you were argueing that Poetry sucks, and Film rules. It is silly. They don't warrant positive/negative qualitative designations.

"What can we create that can exist for as long as mankind exists?"

If you have a good idea I would love to hear it.

6/15/2010 4:11 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

"That may be true, but I'm afraid you aren't old enough to be qualified to be able to express an opinion on those particular subjects."

Experience does not come from times around the sun, but in experiences experienced. An 80 year old man in the middle ages will have less experience than an 8 year old 10 centuries later.

6/15/2010 4:13 PM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

If you have a good idea I would love to hear it.

Culture

There aren't enough years in a lifetime to overcome ignorance, but it does take quite a bit of time to chip away at it a bit.

Self indulgence and excuses for not taking a stand don't help.

6/15/2010 4:20 PM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

An 80 year old man in the middle ages will have less experience than an 8 year old 10 centuries later.

(spit take) Experience in what? Playing video games?!

6/15/2010 4:24 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

"(spit take) Experience in what? Playing video games?!"

Sure, among many other thing, including but not limited to awareness of the creatures at the bottom of the ocean, distant galaxies, a multitude of religions, races and cultures, thousands times more art than that 80 year old middle ages man will see in his lifetime, moving pictures, complex new forms of music, flying at 40000 feet, etc.

6/15/2010 4:28 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

"There aren't enough years in a lifetime to overcome ignorance, but it does take quite a bit of time to chip away at it a bit."

True that. That is why the old are always so damned ignorant -- it just takes too long to chip away at that ignorance for one lifetime!

6/15/2010 4:30 PM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

Watching nature shows on PBS doesn't qualify as life experience.

This is another misconception of young people. They think that being a passive viewer is the same as being an active participant.

6/15/2010 5:27 PM  
Blogger Laurence John said...

Stephen: "Culture doesn't survive pickled in formaldehyde. Museums are becoming even less relevant than skill based creativity"

you're right, culture is always changing. but we learn about past cultures through museums. the art works are quite literally preserved
as if in formaldehyde.

"I spoke the other day with Bakshi, who was a close friend of Frazetta. He told me he thinks something valuable died with him."

a lot of the 'culture' you cherish and hope to preserve ( e.g. fantasy illustration, early animation ) would be looked down on as junk popular culture by someone else with purely classical fine art tastes. you seem to be selecting everything that is dear to you and calling it 'culture' and dismissing everything you don't like as trash-culture.

6/15/2010 5:28 PM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

I think it was Mark Twain who said, "The older I get, the smarter my father seems to be."

6/15/2010 5:28 PM  
Blogger JoJo said...

Hi Richard,

I think you and I are given too much credit for being youths in our generation. I seem to have more in common with these “old “ guys, simply for the standards they are arguing for the arts in general. The reason post modernism fails to identify with the public is because it’s mindlessly self indulgent, providing, if any thing, a short-lived significance to an enclosed circle. Not to mention that so much of it is lacking in both talent and skill to say anything worthwhile and become a notable part of culture. It may be that the enclosed circle has the means to display the so-called art to the general public, and without question the public accepts and doesn’t bother to understand why it has any social context. I believe in a freethinking society that should question the value of what is put in front of us. For example, just how does Damian Hirst’s “For the Love of God” have anything to say to the modern man and better society?

I’m an artist myself, and I think it’s extremely important to have an understanding of why artists of the past were so great in their endeavors. They accomplished what they did with talent, skill and an observation and awareness of life, which allowed them to project unto others their needs and desires and find a common resonance with humanity.

6/15/2010 5:32 PM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

To be honest, there are creative works from the past that do dwarf illustration and animation. But you'd be surprised how many knowledgable artists and scholars recognize and can articulate the value in them. I don't think anyone looks down their nose at a Frazetta painting or Pinocchio.

6/15/2010 5:36 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Awareness is experience?

Video Games are experience?

Old people are ignorant?

Young people who like postmodernism and publish e-books are informed and open-minded (Bwahahaha!)

You are AFRAID and it is a roadblock to liking stupid postmodern tripe. (I am not afraid, which is why I am free to like stupid postmodernism tripe.)

Etc. etc. etc.

All told, Richard, you're robotically supplying the biggest load of POMO dogma I've heard in weeks. How does it feel to be so programmed that you repeat memes verbatim that other bio-bots from your persuasion repeat? How can you stand to be so generic?

I can see why such heavy programming leads the postmodern-brainwashed bio-bot to disbelieve in creativity. There's so much Dogma, there's simply no room for free thought.

But, let me say how pleased I am that you were able to come up with the brilliant "Pot Kettle Black" retort. Showing signs of life with that one. ;)

6/15/2010 7:49 PM  
Blogger ULAND said...

David- I was making a pun; the "large" conceptual woman=The weight that the talented few are suffering under.

6/15/2010 8:08 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

"Young people who like postmodernism and publish e-books are informed and open-minded."
Well, I don't know that I like postmodernism, as you earlier denied the Wiki definition entirely. What do you think Post-Modernism is? I'm dying to know since you've been throwing the term around but have been hesitant to describe anything more than "piles of sand on the ground". Is that a strict definition?

As for my career, I'm quite happy with it actually; I don't feel it's something to patronize me about. I work tech-side at Wolters Kluwer, an industry leader in textbooks. I personally work for their Medical textbook branch, and before you scoff at that, perhaps you should consider the benefit medicine has had and will have in your life and those who are dear to you. It is true, a number of those texts are e-books -- all major companies are moving in this direction. We sell for 20 US dollars a share on the AEX, so it's not exactly the rag-tag operation you might have suspected.

As for my personal level of informedness or open-mindedness I would rarely if ever claim to be either. I'm merely suggesting that in this respect you are a paragon of close-minded belligerent ignorance.

"All told, Richard, you're robotically supplying the biggest load of POMO dogma I've heard in weeks."
What part of what I said was Post-Modernist dogma? That there are other forms of art that deserve attention than pop=illustration, classicism and neo-classicism? Do you really see this as a stance of dogmatism? Do you similarly see the artwork of the Omo as worthless? I see it as quite beautiful, despite that it is non-representational and ultimately no more culturally advanced than that of contemporary installation works. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGLR8wEvRfQ&feature=player_embedded


"How does it feel to be so programmed that you repeat memes verbatim that other bio-bots from your persuasion repeat? How can you stand to be so generic?"
Did you have a sad childhood? Few real-life friends? I guess they just get in the way of your work, right? So who needs them, eh?
It's really terrifying to hear someone so emotionally disturbed speak that way to a total stranger.

"I can see why such heavy programming leads the postmodern-brainwashed bio-bot to disbelieve in creativity. There's so much Dogma, there's simply no room for free thought."
Where did you come up with the idea that I don't believe in creativity? I suppose that just fits your fantasy-world so you will gladly put those words in my mouth willy-nilly because you are a mother-fucking psychopath.

"But, let me say how pleased I am that you were able to come up with the brilliant 'Pot Kettle Black' retort. Showing signs of life with that one. ;)"
You realize that this sentence is a really long-winded way of saying "Nice comeback man!".

Hey dude, good story.

6/15/2010 8:25 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Can you tell me? You say you can but you don't know.
Can you tell me which flower's going to grow?
Can you tell me if it's going to be a daisy or a rose?
Can you tell me which flower's going to grow?
Can you tell me? You say you can but you don't know.

6/15/2010 8:31 PM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

Well, that sure degenerated fast.

Are you an artist, Richard?

6/15/2010 8:41 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Well, I suppose I was more than am. I did some artschool and some Atelier work (because the artschool wasn't teaching enough of the Bargue copies, etc. that I wanted). While I was mostly studying classical art my passion lay primarily in illustration. While my work didn't really look like it, I most identified with the work of Jean Giraud.

At some point there, while doing some college work in Law and Computer Science, my housing girlfriend and job all fell through in the same week. I took it as a sign and shoved off to do the homeless wandering thing that I had really wanted to do the entire time I was educating myself. That lasted off and on for three years, until about 8 months ago, when I got a lead on the publishing company I am currently working for. It's even more difficult to get off the street when you are on it then you might expect, especially when you don't have any family to aid you.

Fortunately I am educated and have some good friends from way back who helped me back up to my feet.

I cannot imagine what it is like for those who don't.

So, having just gotten off the street I still have a deep and tangible attachment to those who still are where I had been for the last three years.

Despite the deep connection with art I have had, I have a hard time bringing myself back to it (not that I haven't tried, I did some album covers and illustrated various miscellany but nothing serious).

Whenever I start to become entrenched in it again all it takes is a quiet gesture of kindness from a homeless person (of which there are many in my city) and I am back to thinking that I have other goals and roads to walk that should take priority.

In my wildest dreams I would like to work on a traditionally animated project, but there is so much psychologically blocking me from returning to that path.

That doesn't stop me from reading, studying art texts, and I even started a free donation-based art-school in my city, mostly taught by local artists.

I take it that the rest of you consider yourselves artists?

6/15/2010 9:09 PM  
Anonymous Cynthia G. said...

Richard,

I don't know who you are, but you sure lost your mind on this thread. Maybe you should backtrack and look at how your own posts were rude and began the downslide. Half your posts didn't make sense; you say one thing and then deny it or downplay it when kev calls you on it. I don't know who you think is impressed by that kind thing.. You might want to delete your nasty last post, too, because from my perspective you shouln't be "throwing the first stone" on the subject of being a psycho.

Cyn

6/15/2010 9:17 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Richard,

You are worse than rude, you are the kind of rude that dishes it out and then freaks out when you get what you give. That's the reactive mind at work.

For instance, you accused me of arguing ad hominem. But, fyi, you have resorted to ad hominem attacks from the very start of your comments (you don't like postmodern art, you must be old and close minded!). In case you don't realize it, "you're old and close minded" is NOT an argument. Its a simple, stupid insult, which you repeated again and again as if repetition itself could convert it into truth.

And then you have the nerve to call me a psycho. Unbelievable.

I defined the term postmodern earlier in the thread. And this is not my definition, but a definition encountered again and again in the philosophy.

6/15/2010 10:41 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

"For instance, you accused me of arguing ad hominem. But, fyi, you have resorted to ad hominem attacks from the very start of your comments (you don't like postmodern art, you must be old and close minded!). "

haha, kev, seriously?
If you search "Richard" in this comment stream, and read every post with that entry in it you will notice that the first ad hominem attack comes from yourself, when you responded to my post with "A.K.A. Richard".


Cynthia, So you read every post in this thread, and thus are fully aware of context? If you honestly did I think you would see quite clearly the first insult was when Kevin called me a dick. Or perhaps you are just biased.

6/15/2010 11:18 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

I called you a.k.a. richard because your google profile is not available. In other words, you could be anybody, and since this site has been deluged with anonymous posters who change names, I am naturally suspicious of those who provide no information about themselves and say stuff like "all old people are close minded".

Furthermore, your arguments and reasoning tendencies were highly similar to some other anonymous posters who frequent this board attempting to stir up trouble for the fun of it.

I NEVER called you what you just accused me of calling you.

6/15/2010 11:58 PM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

It's been my experience that there is a huge gap between thinking about doing something and actually doing it. You're chatting with people here who are actively involved in creating art and educating artists. Their day to day struggles and efforts give them a certain insight that no armchair observer of the scene can achieve. There's nothing wrong with not ending up an artist. We all have our own paths to follow. But you should respect those who did follow the road of art and continue to follow it and not disrespect what they say and do.

That said, I find that post modernist conceptual art to be nothing more than an excuse for the artist to avoid putting any effort into the execution of his ideas. And ideas without execution are just smoke.

This is a problem that extends beyond the art world. There are business people and politicians who use every shortcut and trick in the book. There are internet geeks who live in their parents' basements mooching off them to avoid making a living for themselves. There are people who lie, cheat and steal with no consideration for the people they harm.

Back in the "old days" competition meant the search for the better mousetrap. People would compete through their efforts and succeed based on what they created. Now everyone is looking for an idea that will cut them to the front of the line without doing any work. When everyone cheats like that, nothing of value is ever produced.

Here's what it all comes down to... One of my mentors, a great animator told me that he refused to dumb down his work because he would never ever knowingly cheat his audience.... "They're the people who pay my salary. They're the ones that give up a couple of hours of their time to see what I create. They're the ones that laugh at my jokes and applaud at the end of my cartoons. Why would I want to cheat them?"

Post modernist art is a cheat. It's snide and cynical and it spits on the very people who support it. If a post modernist artist doesn't respect his artform or his audience, I see no reason to respect him. He may be clever and smart and rich, but he isn't creating anything of lasting value. I admire people who build things and contribute to society, not the ones that look for shortcuts to just serve themselves.

The world has too many self absorbed, self justifying, selfish, lazy people. My advice is to work very hard on not being one. I strive to do that myself and I admire other people who do the same. Those who have contributed something of value have a right to complain about those who refuse to.

6/16/2010 12:09 AM  
Anonymous Charles said...

'For example, just how does Damian Hirst’s “For the Love of God” have anything to say to the modern man and better society?'

It's one man's personality, his interests and desires, and what's wrong with that? I haven't read the entire thread but I see several times people have mentioned 'self-indulgence' and 'self-absorption' as a negative, as though to say this of an artist is a put-down, and I really can't agree with that. Can you not see the worth in one man's own obsessions and desires, his own point-of-view and vision, or what simply appeals to his own personality, given without concern for creating a predictable/easy A-B-C reaction for the viewer? Is there really absolutely nothing to appreciate in work such as that?

To say that art as some kind of prerequisite should "better society" and "speak to modern man" is nincompoopery. What does speak to the public? What you're talking about is that which speaks to the fat-legged person whose favourite show is 'Friends.' Or no, who is it that you think 'society' is and ever has been?

Many of you who frequent this blog I think see such work as Hirst's as somehow holding you down, as though artists of his ilk have shifted the landscape away from a place in which you imagine you might've flourished and found fame. Is that really it? I don't suggest this as an insult, I think it's a reasonable feeling to have, but I'm just curious if that is actually the motivation behind the incessant and plainly embittered anti-'post modernism' this and that, as it appears to me.

If not that, then what? To me, to be so against a movement is nonsensical. It's like listening to classical music and writing essays denouncing rap or country, stances people actually do take, as though there's not room for all. It speaks I think not of thought and decision, nor even of considered 'opinion,' but of plain narrow-mindedness (or, just perhaps, an excuse for your own failure to find 'recognition'). So many of you I think are truly crippling yourselves with such thinking.

'Those who have contributed something of value...'

Have you ever stopped and considered that what is of 'value' to you is not of 'value' to your neighbour? Do you know that people appreciate different things, have different approaches and different demands? These differences, in fact, can be so much so that what one person greatly appreciates can to another person be a matter of absolutely no interest. Do you know that these things you don't value might lead and inspire others to create work that you do indeed value? You'll of course say that you do know all this, that you are aware of our differences and this and that, but truly you are not. You denounce selfishness and yet you yourself, from your views given here, are undeniably selfish.

6/16/2010 3:03 AM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

It's one man's personality, his interests and desires, and what's wrong with that?

Solipsism is perfectly fine as long as you're your own love object. It doesn't translate well to an audience.

I haven't read the entire thread but I see several times people have mentioned 'self-indulgence' and 'self-absorption' as a negative

Ha! I honestly don't know how to respond to that. It seems pretty self evident to me. Ask your parents what they think of it.

A personal point of view and an unique observation of the world is the goal of art. That isn't the same as self indulgence. Navel gazing, giving the finger to the viewer, and deliberate obfuscation are things that are usually dispensed with the first year of art school.

I think see such work as Hirst's as somehow holding you down, as though artists of his ilk have shifted the landscape away from a place in which you imagine you might've flourished and found fame. Is that really it?

Flourished yes, fame no. Fame is what Damien Hirst is all about. But art isn't at all about fame. It's about communication. The thing Damien Hirst is doing that's damaging to the art world is stifling communication. If you look at any great period in art, you'll see artists being influenced by each other and expanding on others' ideas. The nihilism inherent in post modernism negates any sort of back and forth between artists and peers or the artist and his audience. A feeble joke lettered out on canvas or a porcelain statue of Michael Jackson's monkey don't encourage artistic give and take. They're a one way statement designed to shut down any communication.

To me, to be so against a movement is nonsensical. It's like listening to classical music and writing essays denouncing rap or country, stances people actually do take, as though there's not room for all.

Again, the all things are equal argument... There are good ideas and bad ideas in the world. There are also well executed ideas and poorly executed ones. The ability to discern between those comes from experience and thoughtful analysis. We're presenting a lot of clear arguments and supporting evidence in our complaints about post modernism. Feel free to disagree with our analysis and provide your own analysis and evidence, but don't expect anyone to see your point by simply arguing that everything is equally good.

Do you know that people appreciate different things, have different approaches and different demands? These differences, in fact, can be so much so that what one person greatly appreciates can to another person be a matter of absolutely no interest.

Again the all things are equal argument... There are things in the world that are decadent, evil and ugly... even if there might be some perverted person somewhere who really likes those things. I'm not calling for Hallmark card sentimentality. I'm calling for artists to respect their audience, the artists who came before them, their medium and themselves. I know that's a lot to ask for. Humans aren't naturally noble and fair minded creatures. But that's the only way for us to advance as a culture.

Kids seem to balk at being asked to take responsibility. They want to blame everything on corrupt politics, corporate greed, friends who cheated them, OCD, Apsergers, alcoholism, their parents, and Republicans. If the other guy is doing it, that's justification for doing it too. The truth is, we're all responsible for ourselves and our actions. We can't demand anything of others that we don't demand of ourselves.

Post Modernism is an excuse for not taking responsibility. It tears things down and replaces them with laziness and self indulgence. And yes, that is a bad thing.

Culture is the accumulated efforts of individual creators standing up on their own and building on what came before. Culture needs to be supported and jealously defended.

6/16/2010 3:57 AM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

By the way, Richard, why did you change your name to Charles? Just curious.

6/16/2010 4:10 AM  
Blogger JoJo said...

Hi Charles,

I don’t find narcissism a thing that should be given praise. Art and culture wouldn’t have gotten anywhere if there weren’t a common admiration for its ideals with the general public. You can make things solely for yourself and that represent you, but why should any person receive any attention if not for a statement that identifies with the masses? Who wants to go down in history for their own self-glorification and contributing nothing to anyone? I also don’t understand this “movement”. What exactly is it? The only thing I can gather is a pathetic excuse for subtractive rebellion, which offers nothing in place of itself.

“You denounce selfishness and yet you yourself, from your views given here, are undeniably selfish.”

I find a strong level of contradiction in this. Didn’t you just begin your post saying that you didn’t find self-indulgence and self-absorption as a negative?

6/16/2010 4:48 AM  
Blogger Laurence John said...

"I don't think anyone looks down their nose at a Frazetta painting or Pinocchio."

i think you might be surprised Stephen. i love Ren and Stimpy, Betty Boop and King Kong too, but if someone else was doing a bit of cultural tidying up they could easily end up in the memory hole. almost every bit of new popular entertainment/art the 20th century has dreamed up has been seen as a cultural blight by some section of the populace (some intellectuals of the 1930s saw RADIO as culturally poisonous. not certain shows on the radio... ALL radio !)

6/16/2010 5:00 AM  
Anonymous Charles said...

'It tears things down and replaces them with laziness and self indulgence.'

Or it widened possibilities. Whatever you believe though, what came before is still there and if you wish there's absolutely nothing stopping you from creating 'art' as though the year is 1820 or whenever it is you feel your vision would have 'flourished.'

With the internet today, I believe there's positively nothing to hold one back from finding an audience except for their own shittiness. If you're not getting the 'recognition' you feel you should be finding, as you seem to be saying, I'd suggest you look first to yourself rather than lay blame on figures such as Hirst.

'They're a one way statement designed to shut down any communication.'

Ah, yeah... Or, how's this for another wild theory: they're the result of art as a means of expression, its most tried purpose, not art as a way to position yourself comfortably in a history book but rather 'art' created simply as an effort to offer something of interest/appeal as the artist finds it.

'Culture is the accumulated efforts of individual creators standing up on their own and building on what came before.'

You don't see the connection between Hirst and Koons and other modern-day artists? You don't see a line through history running from them through to Pop Art and you don't see a line from their passing through Manet and that there's a line from Manet going back further still?

Either way, I don't want to blow your mind here, but despite whatever you've been told, culture is not a game of Jenga. Life runs and exist in many different strains and it's not all built on this one path. If you don't like one strain, there's no need to cry because there's other strains out there, clear as day and healthy and open for you to ride them. To continue my previously taken music analogy, your complaining now is like one saying, 'I hate all these guest spots in rap songs these days, it's ruining classical music!' What is Hirst really doing to you? Explain that if you can... What has he done that you can't change? Is he just like 'The Man' who's keeping you down, huh?'

'You can make things solely for yourself and that represent you, but why should any person receive any attention if not for a statement that identifies with the masses?'

Because 'art' is not some McDonald's-like "please as many as possible, from the young man to the grandma" process but can validly be - and often is - a simple act of 'please myself, explore my own thoughts and desires, and if others find something to appreciate in it then so be it.'' A work may receive attention due to this vision - due to one finding appeal and intrigue in it - and not because it has 'a statement that identifies with the masses.'

I feel like I'm explaining what a sandwich is here, really.

'I find a strong level of contradiction in this. Didn’t you just begin your post saying that you didn’t find self-indulgence and self-absorption as a negative?'

Self-indulgence in art I see as self-exploration, answering to yourself without restraint, and selfishness, in the quoted remark, refers to a gentleman trying to shut down others because he can't accept or fathom the value of anything outside his narrow worldview.

6/16/2010 5:46 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

I've tried these lines of reasoning already Charles, and I'm sure many before us have as well.

I don't see change coming from our clear and concise arguementation.

It is like that hateful cult the Christians. Few of them start giving a damn about how homosexuals feel until they have a homosexual in the family.

At some point they, or their offspring, or their offspring's offspring will have to do with that cognitive dissonance.

Fortunately the knee-jerk spite these people feel to the idea that there might be other valid possible artforms out there has little effect on the world at large. We're not living in North Korea and so can still enjoy that which speaks to us.

Have you explored ffffound.com or woostercollective.com?

6/16/2010 8:14 AM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

Richard said...
"I don't see change coming from our clear and concise arguementation. It is like that hateful cult the Christians."

I must have made some wrong clicks and wound up on that "rational" art forum.

6/16/2010 9:00 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

Your sarcasm are lost on me. Perhaps you'd like to rephrase it?

6/16/2010 9:06 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

*is

:-)

6/16/2010 9:06 AM  
Anonymous Charles said...

'I don't see change coming from our clear and concise arguementation.'

I'm not really trying to make an overriding argument here or convince anyone of anything. I just wanted to reply to some of the more ludicrous comments here, that's all. At the end of the day it of course doesn't matter to me what odd beliefs a few strangers on the other side of the world hold.

'Have you explored ffffound.com or woostercollective.com?'

I don't really like the format of the fffound site and so I've never really gone through it properly before but I might in time. The Wooster site I've seen before, too, but the sort of work they show there is not really to my liking at all. On a similar line though, I do like a good amount of what shows up on booooooom.com, that's really the only site of that nature that I check regularly.

For the record though, I'm not a fan of Hirst in particular. Favourites of mine of the bigger names, thinking now, are Manet and Ingres, and of today and more recent times, I like Matthew Barney and some pieces by Ben Quilty.

6/16/2010 9:27 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

haha, Matthew Barney is fucking CRAZY! <3 that guy.

Yeah, boooooooooom is great. A lot of their work ends up in ffffound, as it sort of aggregates all those sort of sites. That's part of why I check it over booooooooooom, etc.

Oh, "But Does It Float" is good too.

Woostercollective is usually not my thing either, but they occasionally manage to pick up on some great street art that the rest don't for whatever reason. I would agree that usually their pictures are pretty mundane/mediocre.

6/16/2010 10:13 AM  
Blogger Ray said...

David,

Might you do a tribute to the great Al Williamson...who just passed away a couple days ago?

6/16/2010 10:47 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Kev Ferrara wrote: "There is no cause to post in such a desperate manner. Its just a blog."

Hey!

6/16/2010 11:27 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Sorry David, I meant to say, "Its just a blog... the GREATEST BLOG EVER!!!"

;)

6/16/2010 11:48 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

To the Charles/Richard Pomo Art Collective:

The arguments have gotten tendentious again... i.e. if you don't like postmodernism you must be jealous, or afraid, or old and close minded, or a hateful Christian, or you think they're holding you back from success, etc...

Makes me wonder if you geniuses know the difference between an argument and a smear.

I doubt it. For the same reason that you can't tell quality expression from worthless bullshit.

It really is okay if I think the type of postmodernism housed in Dia:Beacon is absolute worthless bullshit.

And its perfectly okay for me to say that. You'll surely survive my opinion just like I survive yours.

I could defend my opinion, and I have previously, but I know, to relativists, everything is answered by "its all good... everybody expresses themselves in their own way." And I've gone down that road before and bored myself silly listening to the dogmatic responses repeated by the pomo/relativist robots.

So, even though I consider your relativistic stance shallow and destructive to culture in the long run (we're already at the long run and we can see the destruction)... arguing with you won't change your minds, I realize... because "shallow and destructive" is what postmodernists think culture is, and relativists will defend every expression even as it pulls us all down into the sewer.

Unfortunately, children, taking no responsibility for what they advocate, don't realize how shallowness and destructiveness and permissiveness scales up into the wider culture and causes problems that everybody has to deal with (except the children, who have nothing, and thus nothing to lose)... and I don't just mean living in a shallow and ugly culture.

Children are stupid that way, they can't see past their noses, and have shoddy logic and reactive minds... which is why all the pandering to their fragile egos and narcissistic tendencies has gotten so problematic. At no time in history have children been more arrogant or more clueless or more connected up. Its the problem we all have to deal with.

6/16/2010 12:39 PM  
Anonymous Alfred said...

Seconded!

6/16/2010 12:51 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Kev Ferrara wrote: "Sorry David, I meant to say, "Its just a blog... the GREATEST BLOG EVER!!!"

Thanks, Kev... I was sure you intended to say something along those lines. Must've been a technical malfunction.

6/16/2010 12:53 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

blah blah blah, we're all just made of atoms you ninny.

6/16/2010 1:37 PM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

Is this some sort of trend with European youth? I see similar sorts of "it's all a hundred flavors of ice cream- all good" arguments from the kids who come into the archive, but usually their misconceptions are based on a limited frame of reference- just things from the past 20 years or so. When they start really looking at the art of the past and analyzing it, they see the obvious patterns and begin to discern relative quality. I can't picture having a broad frame of reference to the history of art and feeling that everything is equal. It would take a monumental amount of boredom with the subject to have so little passion.

blah blah blah, we're all just made of atoms you ninny.

Well, the Punch and Judy routine is nice and all, but it really doesn't suit the mood we've created. Time for you to get back under the floorboards of the gallery and get back to work exploring yourself through self indulgence. We'll call if we need you.

6/16/2010 2:03 PM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

P.S. It really is a shame no one bit on the Christian baiting. That would have led to some mighty fine trolling I'm sure! Now back to our regularly scheduled sock puppets...

6/16/2010 2:11 PM  
Blogger Ray said...

Kev,

Thirded!

6/16/2010 3:07 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

"Is this some sort of trend with European youth?"
I couldn't say, I know very few Europeans.

"I see similar sorts of 'it's all a hundred flavors of ice cream- all good' arguments from the kids who come into the archive,"
Well, it's less of an arguement than a statement of outlook and taste. A lot of us just happen to like the hundred flavours of art.

Sure, some pieces of art are better than others.

I look at art in a similar way to resturaunts; there are fast-food cheeseburgers, exotic Indian dishes, classy French joints.

I wouldn't debase all the food which isn't extravagant, sometimes all I want is a McDonald's dollar menu cheeseburger despite all the various evidences people supply that it just can't hold it's weight to a proper Foie Gras.

"usually their misconceptions are based on a limited frame of reference- just things from the past 20 years or so."

I don't know that this is necesarilly the case, I don't know the name of a single conceptual artist (that is, in the post-modern sense, I know quite a few in the illustration sense) and doubt that many of my young relativist cohorts do either.

"I can't picture having a broad frame of reference to the history of art and feeling that everything is equal."
Well, I don't think anyone would say that every single piece of art is equal.

Who could look at a Lichtenstein and think it the equal of a Sargent, but there comes a point in making these comaprisons, some arbitrary point, that you are no longer talking about the same artform.

Just as I think its silly when someone argues that Film is better than Animation, or that Sculpture is better than Painting, or Painting to Fashion Design.

Some things just don't deserve comparison, and just because I may prefer painting to fashion design doesn't mean that I would try to debase the fashion designers to the point that they quit doing what they're doing and become "serious" artists -- fashion would become even more stale and pathetic if we started pressuring the better fashonites to quit their jobs in search of something loftier.

"It really is a shame no one bit on the Christian baiting."
Oh, I wasn't trying to bait anyone with that. It was an analogy I thought related to the situation in the aside I was trying to have with Charles.

6/16/2010 3:35 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

"Makes me wonder if you geniuses know the difference between an argument and a smear.

I doubt it. For the same reason that you can't tell quality expression from worthless bullshit."

Is this an arguement or a smear, I can't seem to tell the difference. ;-)

6/16/2010 3:42 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

"I think ideology is a fatal infection of the ego."

6/16/2010 3:54 PM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

Just as I think its silly when someone argues that Film is better than Animation

You mean "live action". Animation is a subset of film. And now you're entering a subject that I know a bit about. Live action filmmaking has a MUCH richer history than animation. The range of moods and subjects is infinitely broader, and there are many more examples of filmmakers who were able to use the medium as a means of personal expression.

As a medium, animation has infinite possibilities, but as an art form, it is hide bound by the fact that many people- even animators- see it as a genre and not a medium. Live action has spanned the full range of expression, while animation has kept itself in a rut of talking dogs, anime, cat and mouse chases and Cinderella stories. Animation is almost always designed by committee, and this method of collaborating results in bland, ordinary results.

If you actually know something about the history of the mediums you're talking about, it isn't a case of "apples and oranges" and "nothing is bad- just different". You can define a set of criteria to judge by and make a critical judgement of relative value.

Insisting that everything is good in it's own way and there is no use in comparing different things is at worst a cop out to avoid critical thinking, or a "make nice nice" platitude to keep everyone happy at best.

Making comparisons, judging relative merits, expressing opinions and answering challenges is how we think and learn. To insist that this process is impossible nonsense is the same as advocating ignorance... Which not coincidentally seems to be the basic tenet of post modernism.

6/16/2010 4:01 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

"The range of moods and subjects is infinitely broader, and there are many more examples of filmmakers who were able to use the medium as a means of personal expression."

So would you say then that animation is trash and live-action film is superior?

That would be silly.

This is the same deal as with the representational arts and conceptual art.

They are in many ways artforms not genres, and their merits as an artform should hardly be compared in context of just was particular works have done.

Any relatively new artform will at first be trite trash, give it time and it will stand on its own two feet. This is happening with graphic novels, animation, film, videogames, etc. It takes time. These things cannot be rushed.

6/16/2010 4:21 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

*just what particular works

6/16/2010 4:21 PM  
Anonymous Rebecca said...

“Once we observe, then it's our job as creative artists to make sense of that observation and give it a context.”

This is true for artists and for viewers of art. If Postmodernism (poor thing has gotten a bad rap around here) has contributed anything (and I’ll grant it’s not much) it’s to show how laughable that modern notion is that communication is code-like. A painting may mean one thing for one age and another for another age. Churches have been redone as mosques, mosques as churches and churches as brothels. The artist has an agenda and so does the viewer. The artist observes and gives context, but so does the viewer of that artist’s work. As a teacher of art, I think it’s important to teach a little selflessness, that although I may not understand completely what that artist was trying to communicate it’s worth a shot. And if that’s all your trying to say, Richard, well and good. However, if everything is equally true, why are you wasting so much time and energy telling us it’s not?

“I have a wall full of art books that are proof to me of the transcendent power of culture.” “I'm building something more important than me. I plan for it to outlast me.”

Culture may last but does that really make it better or worse than anything else? That Alexandrian library, what I wouldn’t give to see that as opposed to endless ages of Egyptians copying the same things over and over again and condemning the only original artist as a heretic. Some really good legacies just don’t last; some parents bury their children. That makes me angry, but there it is.

“Instead of laying down and letting inevitability lull us into laziness, we should be standing up and fighting until we can't fight any more. If you want purpose in life in a chaotic world, there's a good one.” This is incredibly romantic and so Norse! But there are two equally valid responses to believing that life is chaos, that a snake is going to gobble us all up in the end. Going at the thing tooth and nail might make for a more entertaining movie, but crying in the corner and whining that life is meaningless also might make a lot of sense - if it’s true that life is meaningless and that a large snake will devour us all in the end, which I highly doubt.

6/16/2010 4:56 PM  
Anonymous MORAN said...

I fourth that! I love that this blog attracts so many smart and passionate commenters that you sometimes want to smash in the face.

6/16/2010 5:03 PM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

So would you say then that animation is trash and live-action film is superior?

I already answered that. Although animation has more potential for creative expression, it hasn't been used that way. The number of truly great live action films is much greater than the number of truly great animated ones.

6/16/2010 5:54 PM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

Culture may last but does that really make it better or worse than anything else?

I believe that overall, culture is the result of a Darwinian form of natural selection. There are things that are radically different between me and a stone age cave painter, but there are things we share in common. The expression of ideas that are common to us both are more likely to survive the test of time. Those that aren't relevant won't.

Post modernism argues that the modern world has made us something other than what we've always been. It celebrates randomness, turns its back on the past, and denies the value of our own humanity. On top of all that, it's even cynical and exploitive of itself. Although there may be circumstances in modern society where there might be some truth in that, I don't see it as being very productive.

If a snake isn't going to eat us, laying down and giving up is the worst thing we can do. But if we are going to be devoured and there's nothing we can do about it, at least we can put up a fight and cause some trouble on the way down.

6/16/2010 6:10 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

"Although animation has more potential for creative expression, it hasn't been used that way. The number of truly great live action films is much greater than the number of truly great animated ones."

Fine, but does that mean we throw animation away with post-modern art?

"It celebrates randomness"

It doesn't merely celebrate randomness, but the way that randomness can still manage to shed some truth. Have you never opened a fortune cookie?

"If a snake isn't going to eat us, laying down and giving up is the worst thing we can do."

Why would you fight if there isn't an enemy? That merely turns you into the devouring snake.

6/16/2010 6:41 PM  
Anonymous Charles said...

'The arguments have gotten tendentious again... i.e. if you don't like postmodernism you must be jealous, or afraid, or old and close minded, or a hateful Christian, or you think they're holding you back from success, etc...'

If you don't like, you say... This has nothing to do with like or dislike. I'm not saying you have to like anything, rather actually that seems to be what you're trying to do (really think about that, please). My comments were a response to those who insist that because they personally do not appreciate a particular strain of art it therefore is not 'art' and is without 'value,' utterly unable to comprehend that people have perfectly acceptable reactions and needs beyond or different to their own, some of which may find great value in what you try to deny as 'lazy' and 'selfish,' etc etc.

Like what you like, hold the values that you hold, but don't try to deny others as though we're alike. The arguments on this page towards the 'worth' of certain strains of art are about as useful and logical as one saying, 'I do not like carrots, therefore carrots are not food.' Such an argument against the carrot is really just a few words different from what we're seeing on these pages. To your taste and needs or not to your taste and needs, it doesn't change the fact that some people like carrots - whether you can accept that or not has no bearing on this - and end up going from this like to make carrot cake and what have you... A simple analogy but one that I feels illustrates plainly the nonsensical nature of 'arguments' like yours.

With what I gave as to the motives of such odd ideas, Stephen in fact agreed with my suggestion that he feels he might've flourished if not for this and that artist and so there I was on the mark.

Still, at the end of the day, it doesn't matter to me or anyone, as I've already said. You go through life as you please but at the end of your days I'd wager that you lived all the poorer for the needless restrictions you placed about yourself and tried to project on others.

6/16/2010 7:26 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

The attempt to equate animated films with postmodern art is philosophically clueless. Animation is a form, not a philosophy.

It is obviously the philosophy of postmodernism that is at issue. Yet, Richard, you don't seem to have a grasp of the essentials of the philosophy.

Given this fact, how much more of your gibberish must we endure, Richard? Are you a bitter-ender who will never stop defending your meaningless island in the pacific, even after the war has been lost?

Oh, and now here's Charles... back to tell us we'll be the poorer for not appreciating a pile of sand on the floor as a work of art, or wood stacked in a room by the maintenance people, or some lit flourescent bulbs in an uninteresting configuration.

I don't know how many times one has to repeat the same thing, but simply put... If you like to eat shit on a stick, go right ahead and eat it!

But I'll never agree that its food.

I know how close minded that makes me. Weep for me, oh open-minded ones, (as you gobble down your fourth helping of shit on a stick.)

6/16/2010 7:36 PM  
Anonymous Charles said...

Who is saying this sand representative of 'postmodern art'? There's good and bad in everything and I would've thought that goes without saying, but apparently not... With every movement, from those in music to art to writing, you get third- and fourth-rate characters latching on to what's "big," there's no helping that.

I'll continue eating what I eat, yes, and you continue eating your steamed beans on a white plate, with a glass of water placed at a distance of 10cm from the table edge.

6/16/2010 8:05 PM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

It doesn't merely celebrate randomness, but the way that randomness can still manage to shed some truth. Have you never opened a fortune cookie?

Don't tell that to Richard Prince. He'll make a series of deadful paintings of artlessly lettered fortune cookie fortunes!

6/16/2010 8:10 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

DIA is a museum of postmodern art.

It contains exemplars of the style.

There is also a pile of broken glass, and writing on the wall that says something like "I am an artist."

If you want to ignore the "finest" examples of the postmodern style in order to argue for the validity of the style, you aren't going to convince me.

6/16/2010 8:12 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

Charles said...
"continue eating your steamed beans on a white plate, with a glass of water placed at a distance of 10cm from the table edge."

And what happened to the high road of "like what you like, hold the values that you hold, but don't try to deny others as though we're alike"?

6/16/2010 11:01 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

"If you want to ignore the 'finest' examples of the postmodern style in order to argue for the validity of the style, you aren't going to convince me."

That's actually an argument against this particular museum. If you mean for this to be an argument against an entire artform you must realize that you have a sampling bias.

Using the same system of argumentation I could pull three rotten beans out of a bag of perfectly good beans, suggest that they were representative of the entire bag of beans, and thus dismiss the entire bag of beans as having gone bad.

You obviously are not qualified to act as the unbiased selector of a quintessential post-modernist, so instead you should really be arguing against what post-modernism itself holds as its most basic tenants. Before you can do that, we'll have to decide on a working definition of Post-Modernism. I thought the wikipedia article had a rather inclusive view, and thus could allow for a wide range of debate. You disagreed with this idea, and suggested we work from another definition. If you have a thorough definition that doesn't devolve into examples, but rather speaks about the foundational philosophies I would love to hear it. Until that time, how can we even argue with you, you are unwilling to present anything other than two examples of what you consider quintessentially postmodern work -- wood piles, and sand piles. That can't possible be what post-modernism means, can it? Piles of things?

6/16/2010 11:37 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

As for Dia:Beacon, way to choose as the exemplar post-modern works the single worst collection of art I have ever seen in one place. This doesn't even have to do with it's post-modernity. It's simply bad, I think we can all agree on that.

But that is sampling bias, it's not a valid form of arguementation.

6/16/2010 11:43 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6/17/2010 12:12 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Richard, the problem is, again, you actually don't understand that the DIA museum is filled with pure postmodern works. That which you consider "the worst collection of art" is replete with bell clear illustrations of the philosophy you are defending.

So what's going on here is what I've been saying from the start. That you are simply confused about what postmodernism actually is. (Part of this is due to the lack of philosophical rigor of the media, wikipedia, chwast/heller, etc. which is making a mish mash of the category by including work that is really modernist, or punk, or pop, or lowbrow, or steampunk sculpture, or what have you. I mean, we might as well say Frazetta or Jim Gurney or Phil Hale are postmodernists, because they might be included in a lowbrow show. The inclusiveness is philosophically ludicrous.)

So you have said DIA is a museum filled with the worst art...

But is a pile of sand or broken glass even Art? Just because somebody says it is, and it appears in a building called a museum?

See... this "what is art" question is why Duschamp is the beginning of the style... because he was attempting to bury the word Art. Postmodernism is anti-art at its very core. It is against beauty or originality. It is against the idea of an original artwork done by an artist. It believes in no transcendental values.

Just as a point of reference, when you look at Murakami or Chihuly, you are not looking at postmodernism because they make beautiful, personal designs. Postmodernism is definitionally neither personal nor beautiful.

6/17/2010 12:20 AM  
Blogger Tom said...

David said. “But I think by the time photoshop came along, most artists had ceded the battleground over technical skill. The indignity for artists who had felt that technical skill was a divinely inspired talent was just too great.”

I think painting and drawing can usually say so much more about reality then a photo can. I don’t think artists had to cede anything to photography unless the artist share the same presumptions of the photograph, I have yet to see anatomy book where a photograph was clearer or as descriptive of a muscle or a bone as a good drawing. Drawings can bring the mechanics and the forces of the universe to life. That’s the difference, a camera has no understanding of what it sees, the human mind comprehends what it sees. And anyone who draws and paints knows how little information about reality is found in a photo.

For example in Leonardo’s work one feels representing nature is intimately bound up with understanding it.

I don’t especially like watching animated films but I love the books on how the films have been produced, because the animators to get a feeling for life are forced to understand the mechanical laws of the universe. The squash and stretch thing knocks me out, or how animators at Disney where able to give emotions to a sack of flour because they understand a few simple rules that govern all forms.

I don’t know about the Sontag argument, it sounds good. But again it assumes the artist and photgrapher share the same goals or assumptions about reality, or maybe their audiences do.

Here is Delacroix ‘take hold of objects by their centers, not by their lines of contour…The contour accentuated uniformly and beyond proportion, destroys plasticity, bringing forward those parts of an object which are always most distant from the eye namely its outlines.”
To me it is how you think about things. If you think a photo is like reality you are probably going to draw “outlines,” you won’t “construct the form like and animator.

It seems to me one will only draw or paint how one thinks, whether it is from your imagination in front of reality or when copying a photo. I think Delacroix also said if a man fell from a forth story window you should have him drawn before he hits the ground.
Philip Rawson in his Book Drawing has some pretty good arguments for why artist in the 20th century turned away form representation, but they don’t involve the issue of photography. And here is what Susan Sontag’s had to say about the book “I consider Drawing a superb book, quite original and brilliantly wriiten-by far the best book of its kind on this subject, in a sense the only book of its kind.”

6/17/2010 12:34 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

kev,

You seem pretty convinced you know what Postmodern Art is, and yet you cannot share a summary of philosophy?

How are we to even know what you are talking about?

You've disagreed with the definition I found, yet will not provide one.

As for DIA, I don't believe that those works are perfectly illustrative of all that Postmodernism in art is and is not. Without a definition of Postmodernism to work from, there is little room to argue for or against.

I suggest you provide your version of the foundational philosophy and definitions behind Postmodernism.

6/17/2010 8:18 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

Tom,

Photoshop != Photographs

6/17/2010 8:20 AM  
Anonymous Metal Wall Art said...

Art blogs entries cover a wide range of topics, from art reviews and commentary to insider art world gossip, auction results, art news, personal essays, portfolios, interviews, artists’ journals,etc.

6/17/2010 11:28 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Richard, you didn't provide a definition. And you didn't seem to comprehend the simple definition I already provided.

I don't have time today to have much conversation about this, but I think the simplest way to understand postmodern philosophy (besides actually reading the stuff, which I highly recommend... there is a ton of it out there to read) might be to look at it this way:

Postmodern art is about testing the word "art." It chips away at the idea of the artistic author, it pushes the bounds of what is proper subject matter or materials used to create "fine" art, it questions the idea of an original work by being obviously derivative, it discusses the role of the gallery space and the picture frame or sculpture base in defining a work as a piece of art, rather than transfiguring the ordinary into the extraordinary, postmodernism makes commentary on the banality, nihilism, and commerciality of modern life by being banal, nihilistic, and commercial itself (daring to be un-interesting or repetitive/serial, based on advertising or print media, using dead flesh as a sculptural element, committing suicide as an artistic act, etc), postmodernism questions the role of content, meaning, creativity, permanence, beauty or other transcendent values as necessary to art by being meaningless, banal, impermanent, uncreative or destructive, ugly, taboo, clunky, tedious, undesigned, etc.

Now there are a lot of works from our postmodern era that use some of these ideas, but that doesn't make them postmodern works. For instance, sampling in music. Yes, there's clipped bits from other songs (the question of authorship), but the song as a whole is an original work that doesn't test the bounds of what it means to write a song. Classical music contains boatloads of pastiched music, often bits of folk music, or quotes from other compositions in addition to original material. So this is nothing new that defines a work as postmodern.

You can see dialog balloons in Phil Hale's work sometimes, and you could look at that as pushing the boundaries in what is allowable in a realistic oil painting. But then you find that dialog balloons in paintings are quite an old idea: http://drawn.ca/2006/08/23/the-evolution-of-speech-balloons/

Roy Lichtenstein first hit it big by duplicating panels verbatim from comic books: http://davidbarsalou.homestead.com/LICHTENSTEINPROJECT.html

That's a postmodern idea... attacking the common notions about what is proper in fine art, and toying with the question of authorship by duplicating another artist's work. Later, he began using the graphic vocabulary of comic books to create original works of his own, leaving strict postmodernism and becoming, I guess you would say, a graphic artist.

Warhol, on the other hand, became more postmodern and banal as he went along.

This is all I have time for now. I hope you can see the philosophical consistency of the postmodern idea as I've explained it, briefly, here.

Best,
kev

6/17/2010 11:39 AM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

Description of this weeks episode's winning masterpiece:

"Miles created "Worst Place," a bed which he silkscreened an electrical pattern on top of, combined with two concrete anuses, one on each side. During the gallery show, he slept on the bed, and this made the judges feel like they really got to know him."

6/17/2010 12:39 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

I understand you are busy, I will try to be brief, and if you cannot answer me perhaps someone else can.


So ... we do have generally the same idea of what Postmodern means.

Our difference lies in what we place within post-modernity.

I take a far more inclusive approach, I would put music using sampling with-in postmodernity -- e.g. the currently popular band Girl Talk.

I wonder, how do you decide what fits enough of the definition to be Postmodern, and what does not?

Also, by your definition can you be Postmodern if you both "test the word art" and simultaneously have an aesthetic viewpoint whatsoever?

You say that Postmodern Art often uses taboo to question the relevance of current standards of beauty/etc.

Would a painting in the style of the 19th century academy showing two homosexual lovers romantically embracing be Postmodern? If that is not taboo enough what if the relationship was pedophaelic BDSM?

6/17/2010 12:41 PM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

Chopping up someone else's creation and adding nothing, then calling it your own is definitely a post modern concept. Removing meaning from classical art and replacing it with a subject designed to simply offend is too.

I really don't care about semantic arguments over definitions. Just watch the Robert Hughes video I linked and you'll see what we're talking about.

6/17/2010 3:16 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

Richard said...

"Would a painting in the style of the 19th century academy showing two homosexual lovers romantically embracing be Postmodern? If that is not taboo enough what if the relationship was pedophaelic..?"

Actually, Richard, that kind of subject matter dates at least back to ancient Greek vase painting.

6/17/2010 3:23 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

"Chopping up someone else's creation and adding nothing, then calling it your own is definitely a post modern concept."

Classical Guitar Player Tommy Emmanuel's Beatles Medley. Despite that this is merely the Beatles chopped up without specifically adding any new material, it is without a doubt a fantastic piece of music in it's own right. The context of the bits changes their meaning.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITt_yblSNrs

"Removing meaning from classical art and replacing it with a subject designed to simply offend is too."
Really? Simply offend? You don't see a picture of two men in loving sexual embrace as anything more than a simple attempt at offense?

"Actually, Richard, that kind of subject matter dates at least back to ancient Greek vase painting."
Yes, I am aware. Well, not the BDSM per se, but I get what you're saying.

6/17/2010 3:33 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Or even better on the subject of chopping up musical pieces and sticking them together for effect;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdxkVQy7QLM

6/17/2010 3:38 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

Richard,

This is a fairly long thread; could you summarize your position and exactly what you are arguing here?

Thank you

6/17/2010 4:07 PM  
Blogger Nathan Fowkes said...

Well said David.

6/17/2010 4:16 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Tl;dr: Post-Modernism is ultimately a legitimate philosophy.

A number of posters here pick and choose what to call Post-Modernism along lines of taste, simply ignoring other works that just as easily fit large segments of the philosophy (e.g. Multiculturalism, Realistic Nihilism, Reappropriation where it has value).

That the meaninglessness, the taboo, ugliness, banality, nihilism, commerciality that you see in some Post-Modern work is a natural expression of some peoples internal lives, internal angst, internal lostness is often what makes those works appealing.

That people's subjective lives are holy. Art as an extension of those subjective lives is also holy.
That when dealing with such things you should not merely dismiss artists, movements, works -- under any circumstances if you have even the slightest inkiling that they do it in earnest.

You don't have to like them, and you don't have to spend your time with them, but Art should be treated like children -- respected and loved even in ignorance.

Make art that speaks to you. Let them make art that speaks to them. Respect it all, if not because you like it, because it is human and that means a damn hell of a lot right there.

-------

Well that is all I can say for now, works over and I am outta here, wooo hooo!

6/17/2010 4:51 PM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

That the meaninglessness, the taboo, ugliness, banality, nihilism, commerciality that you see in some Post-Modern work is a natural expression of some peoples internal lives, internal angst, internal lostness is often what makes those works UNappealing.

There. I fixed it for you.

6/17/2010 5:07 PM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

Art should be treated like children -- respected and loved even in ignorance.

Spare the rod and spoil the child.

6/17/2010 5:11 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

You needn't beat your children to teach them.

Just give them attention when they deserve it.

6/17/2010 6:36 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

In the words of Lao Tzu:

The supreme good is like water,
which nourishes all things without trying to.
It is content with the low places that people disdain.
Thus it is like the Tao.

In dwelling, live close to the ground.
In thinking, keep to the simple.
In conflict, be fair and generous.
In governing, don't try to control.
In work, do what you enjoy.
In family life, be completely present.

When you are content to be simply yourself
and don't compare or compete,
everybody will respect you.

6/17/2010 6:38 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Richard,

I don't have the patience to respond to the relativist talking points yet again. Sorry.

Take care. And beware of what you wish were true.

kev

6/17/2010 7:15 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

Richard,
I am not one to argue with another whether or not they are experiencing true aesthetic fulfillment. In fact my current favourite style, Baroque, has recently been my least favourite (or more exactly, least understood). My aesthetic evolution from childhood reads something like comic>sci-fi/fantasy>Renaissance>19cent>Baroque. It seems reasonable to me that various philosophies may influence (or even create) different tastes in art. I am very convinced, however, that the formalistic qualities that attract me to the art I enjoy now rarely (if ever) exist in pomo art, and that pomo is not built upon an understanding of those traditional formalistic qualities.

6/17/2010 7:54 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

"I am not one to argue with another whether or not they are experiencing true aesthetic fulfillment. In fact my current favourite style, Baroque, has recently been my least favourite (or more exactly, least understood). My aesthetic evolution from childhood reads something like comic>sci-fi/fantasy>Renaissance>19cent>Baroque. It seems reasonable to me that various philosophies may influence (or even create) different tastes in art. I am very convinced, however, that the formalistic qualities that attract me to the art I enjoy now rarely (if ever) exist in pomo art, and that pomo is not built upon an understanding of those traditional formalistic qualities."

Again, I think there is a general misunderstanding about what Postmodernity means. Just because a piece of art is formalistic does not mean that it can't also be Postmodern. For example, the majority of contemporary illustration is heavily steeped in Postmodern philosophy.

6/17/2010 8:24 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

"Just because a piece of art is formalistic does not mean that it can't also be Postmodern."

And I did not say it could not be; I did say that pomo is not built upon an understanding of traditional formalism qualities.

"For example, the majority of contemporary illustration is heavily steeped in Postmodern philosophy."

I don't think you understand formalism; from a formalism standpoint, a philosophical view would be of negligible importance. Nevertheless, I will play along and ask you to provide specific illustration examples and explain how pomo philosophy influenced the examples...please?

6/17/2010 9:01 PM  
Anonymous Joe '200' Fisher said...

Can I just say, I don't give a damn what you idiots are talking about I'd just really like to be number 200.

6/17/2010 9:21 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home