Monday, November 18, 2013

Rising to the Responsibility of the Author or Painter or Viewer

This blog is not written by me, but my daughter who is in Europe, looking for direction, inspiration and her future.  She is remarkably intelligent and so aware for almost anyone, but especially a young person.
For Her Whole blog click here

"The experience brought me to thinking about more than the paintings before me. I came away with a new understanding of modern art—a greater appreciation for its evolution and depiction alike. I appreciate modern art categorically. I associate contemporary artistic efforts with the search for meaning as much as illustration. I think that admirable. Often, however, I have encountered contempt for contemporary art, perhaps most acutely by those who juxtapose it with the Realism of the 19th Century. Sure it’s modern, but is it artI’ve seen that question on the faces of many who don’t take any pleasure in that philosophical question. And it goes the other way, too. I don’t doubt that the artists and curator of and money and materialism and crisis would have lorded over me (or flat out dismissed me) insistent that the exhibit is quite admirable, I just didn’t get it. But that is exactly the point: I didn’t get it.
Recently I revisited an old favorite, Strunk and White. Of approach to styleit reads, “…concern for the reader must be pure: he must sympathize with the reader’s plight (most are in trouble about half the time) but never seek to know what he wants.” This is section drives home empathy for one’s audience. Supplant reader with viewer and, it seems to me, there lies a lesson for today’s artists, one that seems to have escaped the masterminds behind and money and materialism and crisis. That is: my not getting it is, at best, only half my fault. In stepping in to In Progress I quickly understood that I was viewing works from the last fifty or so years. I did well enough in high school social science classes to point out general differences between Cubism and Impressionism adherents. But when I was given three paragraphs on a wall, a framework, instantly I had a knew, better perspective of (and therefore appreciation for) what was right in front of me. It was as simple as, This school was developed in the 1880s by those rejecting the principles that governed traditional techniques, especially realism and muted color palettes. All the sudden I looked at a painting of what vaguely resembled a family portrait and understood: the shape, the lack of detail, even the technique (only a simple palette knife); this was the artist’s way of breaking the mold. He was throwing convention out the window and sticking it to the man with the piece—I understand that! I can get behind that. The paragraph on the wall prepared me for that. It gave me a lens to view the work with, context to operate within. and money and materialism and crisis fell flat for me because I didn’t have that precept. I didn’t have any guidance. And if that was the point, that’s great too! But I’d like to know it is or isn’t after the fact, at the very least.
If the artists (or artists in general) can’t see their way to affording their audiences a small slice of insight then there ought to be a sign at the door that reads Before you pay to enter, please consider that these exhibits are intended for audiences with a degree or multiple degrees in fine arts.
Just before the museum closed I noticed a quote near the bottom of one exhibit by Gilbert & George: We do not want our works to say ‘art’, we want them to become art. We want them to say ‘life’.
I want to hear what art works have to say, and I appreciate the assistance I receive in my efforts."