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...feed your soul with art & creativity!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

As I mentioned a few days ago, I've been going through my art magazines--trying to cull the herd, as it were.  I love to cut out the pictures that inspire me or intrigue me and keep an inspiration binder, as well as articles and biographical stories of artists whose work I admire.

As I mentioned in my blog Exposure a few days ago, it's pretty interesting to see what is trending and considered to be "art" by the "art world" which, for many of these magazines seems to be limited to New York City and the influential/critics (to reiterate--who do nothing truly creative and yet "we" as artists have invested them with the decision making as to what is good, bad or neutral.  Okay.  Also ugly.

Public domain artwork
Composition VII, artist unknown

Over time, the boundaries of what is even considered art has expanded exponentially to our global communication abilities.  We are a highly visual society with our multiple in-house televisions, computers, glossy magazines, book readers, et cetera.  I believe it is due to a combination of the global access and the technically enhanced visual environment that our definitions of acceptable art have exploded.

However, this being so, there are still some basic questions one must ask:
1.  Just because you can make art with excrement and urine...should you?
2.  Does every piece of art have to have a meaning?  If so, should that meaning be obvious, obtuse or somewhere in between and how do you decide?
3.  Are artists desperately seeking "the next big thing" to make a name for themselves, start a new movement and, of course, appeal to the money?
4.  In that attempt to create "the next big thing" are artists sacrificing honesty and integrity for schlock and shock? 
5.  Just because something is shocking or large does that automatically make it good?
6.  Just because something is schlocky or shocking, does that automatically make it bad?

and I'm sure there are many more questions.  However, I've not yet had my coffee today so this is all my starving brain can come up with at the moment.

Public domain artwork
K. Morimoto, "Hiroshima"

As an artist, I am exploring for myself my definitions--even if those definitions may not stand universally:

Good = Something that I like myself and would put in my own home or be proud to give as a gift to someone else.  It doesn't necessarily follow "the rules".

Bad = Something, not unlike behavior, that I know innately isn't good.  This could be subject matter, colors schemes, technical expertise, material quality, composition, et cetera.  The worst art is a combination of two or more of these problematic qualities.

Neutral=art that is neither good nor bad nor ugly but which is just...boring, uninspiring, technically perfect (or at least proficient), and usually includes artwork made with subjects and or colors that are designed to try to please someone other than the artist's preferences.  I suppose in the long run, this makes anything neutral bad art.

Ugly=art that is repellent from subject matter, color scheme, discordant composition, warped perspective, et cetera.  Just because something is ugly, does not automatically put it in the bad category.  Some ugly art is extremely intriguing and interesting.  If it arrests my attention and causes me to explore it further, then it's probably leaning toward the good side.

Butcher's Stall with the Flight into Egypt
1551, Aertsen, Pieter, public domain image
Is it good?  Is it bad? Is it ugly? 
Would I put this up in my home or give it as a gift?

Of course, I don't truly believe that artwork can be so simply labeled and pigeon-holed.  We live in a technicolor world with thousands of variations so trying to think in black and white when defining artwork doesn't really work.  While I would cringe at the suggestion, I am sure there is some crazy art critic out there who has some sort of "Pritchard Scale" (from the movie Dead Poet's Society) for art. Art is intended to be visceral and to be appreciated based on an individual basis?  Art for the masses, is, I believe generally called "advertising", not that there aren't artists and their works who/which have gained enormous popularity.

Ultimately, it's impossible to define artwork satisfactorily for all audiences.  Perhaps it would be better if a 'movie rating' was imposed just to warn off anyone.
FA = fine art as it is academically imposed
CR = craft when compared academically with FA
OS = art that refuses to be defined
SHXX=shock art simply for the sake of shock and monetary gain as a result of being 'trendy'

Public domain artwork
Seurat, Georges
1887-88, Model

I'm sure, if I had some coffee, I could come up with more ratings.

In the meantime, I'm going to get my coffee, then go visit the Appleton Museum where I plan to simply enjoy the art.  All of it.  The Good, The Bad, The Neutral, and the Ugly and everything in between.