Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Art Stars

Artsists started to become "stars" because their work was recognizable and expressive of current philosophies and values. They had their own styles and they were highly skilled masters that took visual art to new levels.

We absolutely have artistic masters today. Many of them are coming from atelier schools which are making a come back as we are seeing somewhat of a renaissance in realism occuring right now. I draw a distinction between star and master. That is to say a master isn't necessarily elevated to star status, nor are all "stars"necessarily masters. I use the word "genius" very carefully. I use the word "master" very carefully as well. It's a title one earns through mastery of a skill or great knowledge (usually both). It's not deserved just because your best friend's cousin is an art critic for the New York times (for example).

I feel that art has been hijacked by pretentious hacks who relish the smell of their own farts just a little too much. Crtitics and pretentious snooty art "schools" have taken over and have attempted (and succeeded to a large degree) to render the word "art" completely meaningless. I hear it all the time -- "anything can be art". Well when anything is art, nothing is art. And that's why much of modern art academics is focused as heavily, if not more heavily, on justifying crap as art through rhetoric, as the production of actual art.


Stephanie Lewis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephanie Lewis said...

I removed my first comment because I wanted to clarify something.

Certainly an eloquent argument and one I've heard before, but also an argument with a distinctly western European bias. So-called "Realism" (which we will discuss in the next chapter) has only been a blip on the radar screen of western history a few times throughout that history. Abstraction is the dominant visual language throughout the east and the west in both hemispheres over the bulk of history. If "realism" and expert rendering are the only standards for art, is everyone else, the world over making "crap?"

Bob Kampman said...

Thanks for the comment.

For lack of a better single term, I've stretched the meaning of "realism". Regarding 2-dimensional, image-art, I'm referring to an illusion of REAL depth/space/form. This can certainly be achieved in the context of abstraction. The reason I referred to classical training in atelier schools is that it is this type of instruction (in conjunction with theory) that equips an artist with the ability to fully express him/herself to the best of his/her potential as an artist. It is also this type of instruction that is actually ridiculed and dismissed by many self-proclaiming modernists, such as Hockney. I see a problem with this, and am in hard opposition to such dismissal.

I'm confused by your assessment that "realism" is a flash in the pan of art history because this flies in the face of modern Don't most modernists basically assert that realism has had its time and place and has no more original ground to cover (which is absurd)? Well if abstraction has been even more greatly explored, how does this fact lend itself to the originality of such an endeavor (not that I'm dismissing the legitimacy of abstraction but it begs the question)?

With that said, and to answer the question posed in the last sentence of your comment, no I would not say these are the only standards. And I give credit to expressionism, for example in its exploration of depicting emotion (movement, really) in application of the medium. But if anything has been played out, that's it (in terms of pure expressionism, I mean). I feel that all modern movements should be applied to the context of realism as I've personally defined it above. And I'm convinced that the future of visual art will move in this direction (there's nowhere else to go and the possibilities are endless in that case). Keep in mind, I'm referring to FINE art. I'm all about art therapy. I think everyone should smear, throw, and drip paint to their personal satisfaction..seriously. What I take issue with is the pretentious validation of such activity as fine art.

The truth of this whole matter was perfectly exposed on an episode of 60 minutes that I watched a few years ago. "They" set up a display in a mall that contained something like 4 "works" by preschool children, and 4 by "accomplished artists". These were artists who were either critically acclaimed or, at any rate, had success and dare I say respect in the art community on some level. They asked common people to pick which were the paintings done by children (average children, I should add) and which were done by the (ahem) professional artists. As I recall, the majority of these people got it wrong...! That's not the best part though. The best part was when they brought in an art expert/critic (graduated no doubt from some snooty NY art school)and HE guessed wrong. That's right. He picked a painting actually done by two 4 year old girls as the one he found most impressive. If that doesn't say it all, I really don't know what else I can say.