Why are so many people saying bad art is good?
Why does the art media keep saying bad art is good? Why do they praise poor derivative work so much, while refusing to talk about better work? Has modern art become isolated in ivory towers that no longer are in touch with the larger art world?
If modern art was interested in new art, wouldn’t they talk about the backlash against the old art, that is going on now? Where is the vitality in art, that new art ideas and a little rebellion can bring. Has modern art become the salon art of our time? Has it jumped the shark? Has modern art become dada without the charm?
The history of western art went from realism, to abstraction. OK but that’s not the end of art. That is just a phase. Time to move on to the new art that goes beyond realism versus abstraction. To bring vitality back to art, we should oppose the salon art , that modern art has become.
The new art post-ism is not about a new ‘ism. It’s about art that is beyond ‘isms. Post-ism is art that is great because it’s great, not because it fits an ‘ism.
Modern art came to a stop with conceptual art and no one since has known how to get it started again.
Conceptual art ended MODERN ART. And for the last 40 years no one has known what to do with it!
Doing art that is weird is not pushing boundaries forward, it’s copying what was done by other artists a hundred years ago; Duchamp, Surrealists, Dadaists etc. reacting to two world wars.There is this idea that new art must be more weird to be progressive. Weird art is easy. You put a strip of raw bacon across an expensive violin – but it’s not great art!
Here’s why I think a lot of Modern art is neither modern nor art (or at least not very good art) anymore and ready for a change, or at least an alternative
1. Cold 2. Disjointed 3. Can’t communicate it’s message 4.Weird 5.Elitist 6. Technically poor if there is technique at all 7. Pompous and inflated, often takes up a room 8. Non functional, not useful, not integrated into life 9 No breadth or scope.
My Third novel Portraits, about art, artists and the art revolution; is now available at all the main streaming suspects, I-Books,
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Baker and Taylor, Copiea, Garners (Britain) etc.
Portraits is a novel about three things: Nine artists that come together in an art co-op to change art, the romance of two of the artists Jack and Francesca, and a secret admirer, Missy U., who plays a major role in it all.
All was black.
Then a spark,
a glowing light
in the dark.
At one point in the novel, the head of the artists co-op asks for someone to write an essay on art, on what they stand for. The mysterious Missy U. does that. Here it is.
AN ESSAY ON ART (in 3 parts)
(Excerpt from the novel “Portraits.” This is an art essay written by, Missy U., a character in the novel. She is asked to write an art manifesto that reflects the goals of a group of 9 artists.)
Part One. BUILDING ON THE PAST
Part Two. THE PRESENT TENSE
Part Three. FOUNDATION FOR THE FUTURE
After all, the goal is not making art, it is living a life.*
(*All quotes by Robert Henri)
Art builds. It builds in purpose, styles, traditions, forms. It is ever growing. Good art depends on the past and builds on it. But it also breaks away from that past to experience the now and the present. And finally the best artists lead forward, and set up a foundation for future art and artists yet to come.
Part one : BUILDING ON THE PAST
Art is an outsider, a gypsy over the face of the earth.
Periodically artists must justify their work. We are doing it here in this essay. Usually those who are most innovative and far reaching in their ideas, are the very ones most challenged by their society.
A cycle continually repeats itself. The new artist brings innovative work to the forefront. The majority of society challenges and rejects it. A growing minority accepts and supports it. The minority grows until it becomes the majority. Then that new majority — forgetting the lesson it went through — clings to its past, and blocks out the next innovative artist. The cycle repeats itself.
The historic cycle needs to stop. Artists shouldn’t have to justify creative work. Society needs to justify its criticism of creative work!
Society should value art; not only as one of it’s most important treasures, but as its very lifeblood . When dictators and wars are a distant memory, the value of art of the same period will grow in stature.
Cultures should celebrate their past art. Few do, and those that do, too often stop at their golden age, and block out their best contemporary artists. For society to prosper, its contemporary artists must prosper too. History proves that over and over again. The two develop best in tandem.
Art needs to be given more leniency, less controls. The history of art shows it to be chained, and then when it breaks free, it has been re-chained.
First, art was controlled by high priests and kings, now it’s corporate sponsors, government grants, gallery owners, museum curators, and the art media. Too often, the freedoms gained by artists, are quickly lost again.
We need to stop blocking art, stop controlling art, and finally start nurturing art. Learn from the past, and start nurturing art.
Lesson learned. NURTURE ART by giving it wings. Allow it to develop along its own path. Judge it not by established criteria, but let the artist establish his own goals. Then see if he met them. Each generation looks to accomplish their own agenda. We shouldn’t judge an artist’s work on requirements he never intended to follow.
Lesson Learned. NURTURE ART by giving it time. It is often best that final judgement be suspended in the initial stages.
All interesting developments in art have at first puzzled the public, and the best appreciators have had to suspend judgement during the period necessary for full consideration.
The artists of the past have paved the way. The best art is now LESS blocked, LESS
controlled, MORE nurtured. We should build on that.
Part Two: THE PRESENT TENSE
We are not here to do what has already been done.
Say three yeses!
Yes, to use the present to build on the past.
Yes, to use the present to protect and preserve the best art of the past.
[Perhaps our greatest job now is as curators of the best art of the past.]
Yes, to break away from history and move art forward.
The Co-op 9 are breaking away from the past in at least 3 innovative ways.
1. Going beyond the isms and accepting all art as valid.
2. Making copies of paintings.
3. Integrating art back into our lives.
Let us start with a brief look at Western Art so far:
Art went from total structure in realism (painting exactly as is) to total freedom in conceptual art (painting rules invented by the artist).
OK, we’ve gone through the complete range. Now instead of being stuck in only one or the other ism, either total realism, or total choice and concept; we have the option to do all of the above. That’s the new art .
1. The Co-op advocates the painters right to have the full range of options. All art is valid.
Painters want all the choices now. They ask to be free to mix and match, what fits their expression. There seems to be two main ‘bell curves’ for painters to choose from.
A. Will he choose Realism, art as reality; or will he choose the opposite end, Abstraction and Conceptual art, art as artistic choice or artistic concept. Or, will he choose something in between.
B. Will he choose style, art as style of painting — most of the isms are styles of painting — or will he choose the opposite end, substance, art as symbols of a deeper meaning.
Or, will he choose something in between.
For the first time the painter has all these options open, plus any more he can think of.
2. The Co-op advocates making exact copies of paintings and drawings.
They suggest mass marketing paintings, to take its place with the other mass marketed art forms. Music has been mass marketed as recordings, literature as books, and film as videos.
The Co-op has begun the process with a simple color copier. But the true test will be when the original painting on canvas, is displayed along side exact copies of the painting on canvas. The copy process will be right when no artist or critic can tell which is which.
Imagine the, almost here, future of mass marketed paintings. Even with limited foresight, one can see major changes. Copies could travel in trucks on the roads, while the originals stay protected, where they are.
Imagine the entire work of a master painter on view in one place in copies. Or imagine the holdings of a museum on view, traveling across the country in copies. Most paintings now are never seen. They languish in storage, out of view. Copies would change that. Copies would take art away from the monopoly of a handful of major cities; and bring it to every small town and village.
3. The Co-op advocates integrating art into our lives.
When an art is mass produced there are predictable results. Instead of an art form for the elite, there is now an art form for the public. When mass marketed, paintings will becomes more popular by tenfold. It has happened with every art form before it, and it will happen again with painting.
Paintings then can be integrated into our lives. Affordable exact copies, can be hung on cafe walls, shop displays, businesses, and most importantly in peoples homes.
Part Three: FOUNDATION FOR THE FUTURE
We haven’t arrived yet; and it is foolish to believe that we have. The world is not done. Evolution is not complete … The human family has not yet come out of the woods. We were more barbarian, we are still barbarians. Sometimes in the past we shot ahead, in certain ways, ahead of where we are now.
The future builds on the hope we have now;
Hope that our world heritage of art will not only survive and be protected, but allowed to reach more and more of the world’s audience.
Hope that what is now hard for artists today, will be easier for artists tomorrow.
Hope that time wasted in struggle, will shift to time gained for work.
Hope that art for the few, will metamorph into art for all.
Hope that art will be integrated into our lives in ways we cannot yet imagine.
Our future freedom rests in the hands of those whose likeness will be in their dissimilarity.
I love to walk. One route I like to go on, goes by a giant oak that I call the Four Finger Tree. The trunk rises up about 7 feet, then divides to four major branches that continue up another 30 feet or so. When I walked by this tree, I also noticed that at eye level there is a small, cut out, square piece of bark, about 3/4″ square and a quarter of an inch deep. The gash stands out from the other gray bark with a more yellow tan wood color – the color of a tree freshly stripped of its bark.
I don’t know how it got there, but it must be man made because it is an exact square shape – the shape that someone would have carved in the tree using a knife.
Being somewhat superstitious, I always touch this button on the tree for good luck when I pass it. So it went for years.
One day I was passing the tree, and the tree cut out square was gone.
Wait a minute, I say to myself. Trees don’t heal. I looked and looked but it was gone – all the tree bark was the same mottled gray blotches of bark sticking out on a slightly darker gray background bark – the usual oak trunk ….
No really, trees don’t heal, I say to myself until I’m convinced. I can’t let this go, I can’t go on. I’ve got to figure this out. What is going on?
I look and look and it’s all bark. This goes on for about a full minute or two. Remember this is eye level, and my eyes are no more than 6″ from where the cut out should be….
After minutes, the only – and I mean only – thing that stands out in any way, is a black dash about this size ” –”
Taking it as the only clue I got, I investigate further..
Finally I see it!
The black “–” is a leg, The leg is attached to a moth. The moth has wings that so exactly match the bark, that it took about 3 complete minutes of looking straight at it before I could see it.
This is one extraordinary moth! It was about 2-3 inches long and 3/4″ wide. And it had decided to land exactly in the cut out square. The indention helped the illusion, and what an illusion it was.
I’ve read of creatures adapting well to their environments to avoid predators – but this was beyond basic bio. This was extraordinary. This was to the Nth degree.
Once I saw it, I studied it. The color was the same assortment of shades of gray. The pattern was the same as the oak, and had he tucked his black foot under his wing – well I would never have seen him even after looking straight at him for minutes!
Nature you are amazing – descriptions in books can’t match or even come close to what you can do! We have much to learn from you still!
This essay reprinted from Musea #195 The 8 Doors Issue: