The Essay on Art from the Novel Portraits

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.

Here’s the cover. The drawings are of the three main characters.
Portraits1Col

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.

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