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Why it's OK not to like modern art
The Times (UK) ^ | 5/8/03 | Julian Spalding

Posted on 05/10/2003 5:02:44 AM PDT by jalisco555

I HAVE NEVER met anyone who told me they loved modern art. No one ever came up to me, their eyes glowing with pleasure, telling me I just must see, say, the new wall drawings by Sol Lewitt in the 1970s, or the smashed-plate paintings by Julian Schnabel in the 1980s, or the life-size, glazed porcelain figures by Jeff Koons in the 1990s.

I have, however, met plenty of people who have told me that I ought to like modern art. There is some place for “ought” in life, but none at all in art; art is a gift, not a duty. The people who told me that it was my job as a curator to like modern art invariably had a vested interest in so doing: either they earned their living making, teaching, criticising or curating modern art, or they came from the worlds of the media and marketing, who genuinely admire anything that can attract so much attention.

To counter this cynical, commercial compromising of artistic craft, learning and judgment, it is vital to focus on what art is actually about — on its meaning, not on its promotion, nor even its packaging. Content cannot exist without form and, obviously, marketing influences that form, as it influences everything to which we want to attract attention. The crucial question is: how good is the content? If we take our eye off that for a second, we are in danger of being distracted by the wrapping.

Unbelievable as it might seem to those unfamiliar with the world of modern art, the self-styled artist Piero Manzoni canned, labelled, exhibited and sold his own excrement (90 tins of it) in the early 1960s. The Tate has recently acquired No 68 of this canned edition for the sum of £22,300. They have coyly catalogued it as a “tin can with paper wrapping with unidentified contents”. None of those who collected Manzoni’s tins has, as far as I know, tested the veracity of their contents, but then, who would want to?

In another work, Manzoni drew a line on a strip of paper — a single long line, in ink — rolled it up, put it in a tube, sealed it and recorded the length of the line and the date of its making on a label pasted to the outside of the tube. The idea was that these tubes, containing lines of different lengths, should remain unopened.

This takes the triumph of wrapping over content to its logical, but sterile, conclusion. How can a line you cannot see be art? Nevertheless the Tate has two of these tubes in its collection.

It is all too obvious to anyone not in the art world (though always denied by those within it) that a rift has opened between the art being promoted in contemporary galleries and the art that people like to hang on their walls at home.

Samuel Kootz was perhaps the first of a new breed of art entrepreneurs, among whom Charles Saatchi is currently the best known. During the Second World War Kootz saw his big chance, not just to make New York the art capital of the world while Paris was occupied by the Nazis, but to maintain its supremacy after the war was over. This could only be achieved, Kootz realised, if the big spenders in America started to spend big money on American art.

In 1943 Kootz thought he had found the artist who could deliver the goods: Byron Browne. Browne’s art at the time was described as “individual”, “athletic” and showing “constant growth”. This gives no idea of what Browne’s paintings were actually like. In fact they now look like painfully sad imitations of Picasso. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, as depicted in his triptych, could hardly look less alarming with their clippity-clop shoes, electric-whisk heads and B-movie Martian hairdos.

It is easy to make fun of Browne at this distance in time when the difference between Picasso’s innovations and the efforts of his followers has become so clear, but it is less easy to forgive Kootz. He was perhaps one of the first art dealers to apply the methods of saturation marketing to his trade. By 1951, Kootz realised that he had made a mistake and he sold all his Brownes in a deliberately demeaning sale in Gimbel’s department store. This led to panic selling by other collectors. Browne was the first artist I know of to be “dumped”, a practice that was to become common in the increasingly cynical world of art.

Browne never recovered, but who cared? By then, Jackson Pollock had come along. The English painter Bridget Riley was one of many who thought that Pollock’s art, while exciting and liberating on the one hand, was at the same time a “dead end”, leaving “nothing to be explored”. No artist could pick up where Pollock left off; none did, nor did it occur to anyone to try. While Pollock was being promoted as the greatest artist in America, Edward Hopper, a painter much more deserving of such an accolade, was being totally marginalised.

The very concept of art has been so brutalised in recent years that it is difficult to see how it can survive, let alone revive. Without a widely accepted understanding of what we mean by art, what chance has it to regenerate? The task we face is to clarify what distinguishes a genuine work of art from the ersatz products of today. The quality that links the paintings of Vermeer and Matisse, Grünewald and Picasso, and that earns them the status of works of art — a status few would deny them — is, I would suggest, the aesthetic light that appears to shine out from them. It is worth trying to get closer to what we mean by “aesthetic light”, because it is this light that will re-emerge after the eclipse has passed.

Any work of art worthy of the name has an instantaneous effect on first viewing. An artist might bring all sorts of feelings and thoughts into play, but unless he or she manages to make them all contribute to one encompassing, illuminating whole, the work of art will have no heart, no “life” of its own.

Looking at a great work of art makes one feel more fully aware of one’s thoughts yet no longer wearied by them, more exposed to one’s emotions yet no longer drained by them, more integrated, more composed — more, in a word, conscious. It is the light of consciousness that great works ignite in our minds. It is this quality of luminosity that unites the divine visions of Piero della Francesca with the nightmares of Goya. This is the light that will return to art after the eclipse has passed. A found object, whether it is a brick or a urinal, cannot by itself inspire you with a heightened level of consciousness, just because it is selected and placed in a gallery. The man who designed the urinal did not make it to inspire ideas about art, but for men to urinate into. We can admire, if we are so inclined, the achievement of his aim. Yet how can we ever really know what was in Duchamp’s mind when he put it in a gallery?

What imaginative light emanated from Rachel Whiteread’s House? It had, it is true, a mournful presence, but this effect was due to its context rather than anything inherent in its form. One could feel sorry for it, but this was essentially a sentimental response, which depended on the feelings one brought to this encounter. Artists try to make statements that transcend private associations: that is what art is — an unconditional gift to others. The greater the art is, the more detached it becomes from private meanings, and the more freely it stands as its own interpreter, to speak to all of humankind. By this criteria House does not even begin to be a work of art.

The most exciting thing that will happen as the eclipse passes will be the emergence of new talent all around us. There are thousands of artists around the world who have gone on creating art because they have not been able to do anything else with their lives, but whose work has been totally obscured.

Glorious new art, much of it modest though still valid, some of it profound, will emerge from the gloom. Among these hidden delights will be the great art of our times. The tragedy is that we cannot yet see it. Public galleries around the world show the same diet of narrow conceptualism, often by the same few, heavily promoted artists.

Great artists of the past had an easier job attracting public attention. They enjoyed, for centuries, a virtual monopoly on visual imagery. Since the invention of films and TV, photographs and colour printing, computers and DVDs, the artist’s share of the visual market has diminished considerably. But one only has to see the queues forming for a show of works by Dalí or Matisse, both of whom operated in this context, to know that there is still a hunger for the created image. It is not the need for art that has diminished, but the quality of art that is being shown. This is not because it is no longer being made. It is because a benighted view of art has a stranglehold on the few who choose what little art we are aloud to see. And the public acquiesce, because what else can they compare it with?

It is one of the most pernicious myths of modern art that we have discovered the great art of our age when, in fact, we have hardly begun to look for it.

Francis Davison was a John Sell Cotman of our era, an Abstract artist of monastic rigour. It is difficult to describe the effect of looking at his large collages made out of torn and cut coloured papers. At times it is like going for a walk when the whole visual environment — the sky, the trees, the earth and the fields — collapses about one into an encompassing, luminous pattern. Always his feeling for space and tone is immaculate, and his images glow. He worked in almost total obscurity until I put on an exhibition of his work at the Hayward Gallery in London in 1983, the year before he died.

Unknown to me, a young aspiring artist called Damien Hirst was bowled over by the show and spent the next two years trying to emulate Davison’s art, until he gave up.

Hirst wrote later: “Before I went to art school I saw a show at the Hayward Gallery of collages by an artist called Francis Davison that blew me away. When I moved to London a few years later, I was surprised to find out that nobody had heard of him, even though he’d had a big show in a major public gallery.”

Hirst learnt his lesson, and made sure that that never happened to him. He decided he would be famous whatever he did. Julian Stallabrass quotes Hirst as saying as early as 1990, before he had made his big breakthrough: “I can’t wait to get into a position to make really bad art and get away with it. At the moment if I did certain things people would look at it, consider it and then say ‘f off’. But after a while you can get away with things.”

The artists of the eclipse have been getting away with things too long.

Julian Spalding was a founder of the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow. His book The Eclipse of Art: Tackling the Crisis in Art Today, is published by Prestel next Monday.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Editorial; Government; Philosophy; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: art; artists; charlescolson; culture; relativism
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The most exciting thing that will happen as the eclipse passes will be the emergence of new talent all around us. There are thousands of artists around the world who have gone on creating art because they have not been able to do anything else with their lives, but whose work has been totally obscured.

I hope that day comes soon.

1 posted on 05/10/2003 5:02:44 AM PDT by jalisco555
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To: jalisco555
I am of the ignorant masses who can't tell you anything about art except knowing what I enjoy seeing. There is room for a wide variety of taste,but many times it all seems like a fraud perpetrated by the artist and the dealer. I don't want my tax dollars supporting this fraud!
2 posted on 05/10/2003 5:25:48 AM PDT by MEG33
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To: MEG33
Read "The Painted Word" by Tom Wolfe.
Suddenly you will completely understand WHY modern art is a bizarre joke on the world.

"From Bauhaus to Our House" does the same for architecture.
Unfortunatly while you can ignore modern art, you can't ignore modern architecture.......
3 posted on 05/10/2003 5:29:35 AM PDT by Kozak
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To: Maximilian
bump
4 posted on 05/10/2003 5:30:33 AM PDT by Diago
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To: Kozak
These two books are the best books on modern art and architecture written in the 20th century.
5 posted on 05/10/2003 5:42:05 AM PDT by moneyrunner (I have not flattered its rank breath, nor bowed to its idolatries a patient knee.)
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To: Kozak
" you can't ignore modern architecture"

Ditto. There are some amazing modern buildings that are a complete work of art all to themselves.
6 posted on 05/10/2003 5:42:28 AM PDT by Rebelbase
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To: Kozak
Read "The Painted Word" by Tom Wolfe..

Thanks, Tom Wolfe is great at laying bare the truth, although he was wrong in 1975 in hoping that the hoax would be completely exposed by 2000.

click

Excerpt:

"Every art student will marvel over the fact that a whole generation of artists devoted their careers to getting the Word (and to internalizing it) and to the extraordinary task of divesting themselves of whatever there was in their imagination and technical ability that did not fit the Word. They will listen to art historians say, with the sort of smile now reserved for the study of Phrygian astrology: “That’s how it was then!”—as they describe how, on the one hand, the scientists of the mid-twentieth century proceeded by building upon the discoveries of their predecessors and thereby lit up the sky . . . while the artists proceeded by averting their eyes from whatever their predecessors, from da Vinci on, had discovered, shrinking from it, terrified, or disintegrating it with the universal solvent of the Word. The more industrious scholars will derive considerable pleasure from describing how the art-history professors and journalists of the period 1945-75, along with so many students, intellectuals, and art tourists of every sort, actually struggled to see the paintings directly, in the old pre-World War II way, like Plato’s cave dwellers watching the shadows, without knowing what had projected them, which was the Word.

What happy hours await them all! With what sniggers, laughter, and good-humored amazement they will look back upon the era of the Painted Word!"

7 posted on 05/10/2003 5:50:36 AM PDT by xJones
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To: Rebelbase
Picasso, himself, stated that he was not doing art, he was only a clown creating what the public thought they wanted and was laughing at them all the way to the bank.
8 posted on 05/10/2003 5:53:17 AM PDT by native texan
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To: jalisco555; Miss Marple
Thank you for the post. This article....and the book it's based on...interest me very much.

Jane - a MUST read!

9 posted on 05/10/2003 5:58:07 AM PDT by Molly Pitcher (Is Reality Optional?)
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To: jalisco555
self-styled artist Piero Manzoni canned, labelled, exhibited and sold his own excrement (90 tins of it) in the early 1960s. The Tate has recently acquired No 68 of this canned edition for the sum of £22,300.

And they wonder why donations to the art community have been declining. The utter presumptuousness of the art elite is either appalling or laughable, depending on whether you have money invested in them.

10 posted on 05/10/2003 6:03:09 AM PDT by IronJack
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To: moneyrunner
These two books are the best books on modern art and architecture written in the 20th century.

Agreed. Those and some of Thomas Hart Benton's musings were godsends to me at one point in time.

11 posted on 05/10/2003 6:05:17 AM PDT by niteowl77
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To: jalisco555
"Edward Hopper, a painter much more deserving of such an accolade, was being totally marginalised. "

How true, although I think he's been revitalized over the last ten years.

12 posted on 05/10/2003 6:05:24 AM PDT by Katya
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To: jalisco555
This article reminds me of a time when I was in the Boston MFA, enjoying some fine modern art -- that it, I was laughing out loud at it. I remarked to someone that one large painting could have just as well been done by a gorilla with a can of spray paint. This offended a very elegant woman, who gave me a an angry lecture to the effect that my problem was ignorance; I needed to study modern art, so I could learn to appreciate it. My response was that if you need a PhD to see the beauty in something, how good is it, really? The beauty of the best art is obvious and can be seen and felt by philistines like me, everywhere and in every age.

I like some modern art, but the field is dominated by phoniness and by crappola that won't stand the test of time.

13 posted on 05/10/2003 6:08:31 AM PDT by solzhenitsyn ("Live Not By Lies")
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To: Molly Pitcher
Thank you.

My daughter, as you know, has struggled to maintain a view of art separate from that of the current "modern" view while finishing art school (she graduates Sunday).

My sister, the art teacher, had this to say about modern art:

"It isn't about art. It is about how much BS you can spin to explain the 'meaning' of whatever piece of dreck you hang on the wall."

I think that sums it up in a nutshell.

14 posted on 05/10/2003 6:13:23 AM PDT by Miss Marple
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To: jalisco555
I published representational historic and native american art as a side business once. It was fun but not terribly profitable.

The problem with modern art is that artistic interpretation of subject matter or expression has gone off the charts.

I confess...i like some modern art...some.

When I was last at MOMA and saw basically a neat stack of bricks that someone paid 350,000 dollars for i knew I "had left Kansas".

Performance art is where the truly "out there" reside...IMHO.

PS: A big problem with canvas "art" today is that are too many illustrators posing as artists. I know I'll take heat for that one. That has really been a problem one way or another since Remington and Russell here in the US.
15 posted on 05/10/2003 6:14:45 AM PDT by wardaddy (My dog turned to me and he said " Let's head back to Tennessee Jed!")
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To: jalisco555
I am HTML impaired, but this article

http://www.jsonline.com/news/metro/may03/139774.asp

appeared in our paper this morning. It is about a picture recently hung in our Milwaukee County Courthouse that depicts not only Martin Luther King, but has offensive Rodney King references, gang references and just plain stupid artistic work of a skull with a bullet hole in it, all in the name of ....yes...."Diversity" and the struggle blacks face.

Big problem is it hangs in a courthouse where justice is dispensed and nothing like tainting potential jurors with anit white, anti establishment, pro gang violence stuff on the wall in an 8' by 16' piece! Thankfully, our County Executive gets the joke, art for art's sake is sometimes very stupid. Any help with the HTML would be appreciated.

16 posted on 05/10/2003 6:17:41 AM PDT by irish guard
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To: jalisco555
Manzoni drew a line on a strip of paper — a single long line, in ink — rolled it up, put it in a tube, sealed it and recorded the length of the line and the date of its making on a label pasted to the outside of the tube.

Not mentioned is that Mr. Manzoni won the "P. T. Barnum Award for Brilliance in Modern Art Marketing" several times, including a lifetime achievement award in 1967.

17 posted on 05/10/2003 6:18:30 AM PDT by mountaineer
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To: Miss Marple
My daughter, as you know, has struggled to maintain a view of art separate from that of the current "modern" view while finishing art school (she graduates Sunday).

Good for her...and I wish her the best of luck. As a representational artist, I've happily found there is still a very good market for traditional work. It's a quieter road, but a rewarding journey, as persistence and talent will pay off.
18 posted on 05/10/2003 6:26:15 AM PDT by mr.pink
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To: wardaddy
re: PS: A big problem with canvas "art" today is that are too many illustrators posing as artists. )))

With art such a degraded commodity, illustrators would stand head and shoulders above most of those who "pose."

I'd classify even the good modern canvas-makers as decorators posing as artists. Their canvases are color charts for the parlors of the urbanites.

19 posted on 05/10/2003 6:36:04 AM PDT by Mamzelle
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To: Miss Marple
My sister, the art teacher, had this to say about modern art: "It isn't about art. It is about how much BS you can spin to explain the 'meaning' of whatever piece of dreck you hang on the wall."

Thanks, Miss Marple, that is just perfect. Best wishes to your daughter, by the way. Hope she'll continue to ignore the lemmings.

20 posted on 05/10/2003 6:36:21 AM PDT by solzhenitsyn ("Live Not By Lies")
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To: mr.pink
As long as it's not Thomas Kincaid...lol....or Queen Bev.
21 posted on 05/10/2003 6:36:55 AM PDT by wardaddy (My dog turned to me and he said " Let's head back to Tennessee Jed!")
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To: Miss Marple
A good example is the shooting situation at the university yesterday. The ugly building shown on TV detracted from thread discussion of of the event. People, at first, thought they were looking at tornado damage...
22 posted on 05/10/2003 6:37:38 AM PDT by cibco (Xin Loi... Saddam)
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To: Miss Marple
"It isn't about art. It is about how much BS you can spin to explain the 'meaning' of whatever piece of dreck you hang on the wall."

Exactly. There is a symbiotic relationship between pretentious "artists" who lack talent (shock-value or being obscure is the substitute for talent), and art "experts" who have more money than sense. It is a reflection of the nihilistic mindset that has so harmed culture in the past century. "Art" that can mean anything must mean nothing.

23 posted on 05/10/2003 6:42:11 AM PDT by Wilhelm Tell (Lurking since 1997!)
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To: jalisco555
I can't stand modern art. I am of the philosophy that good art really ought to objectively represent something- an idea, an emotion, an object, etc. Modern art is all about subjectivism. It is reflective of the emergence of relativism as the mainstream philosophy, which strikes me as dangerous.
24 posted on 05/10/2003 6:46:50 AM PDT by MWS (Errare humanum est, in errore perservare stultum.)
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To: Mamzelle
I can't argue with that technically but please explain Kincaid and Doolittle's incredible popularity.

There is as much wrong with that "appreciation" insofar as "Fine Art" as there is in Modern Art being lauded most of the time.

As I said...I have found exceptions to some modern art which is not garbage.
25 posted on 05/10/2003 6:50:43 AM PDT by wardaddy (My dog turned to me and he said " Let's head back to Tennessee Jed!")
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To: MWS
Well put.
26 posted on 05/10/2003 6:51:27 AM PDT by wardaddy (My dog turned to me and he said " Let's head back to Tennessee Jed!")
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To: wardaddy
PS: A big problem with canvas "art" today is that are too many illustrators posing as artists. I know I'll take heat for that one. That has really been a problem one way or another since Remington and Russell here in the US.

Just out of curiosity, what's your opinion of Andrew Wyeth? Artist or illustrator?

To me, the most satisfying art is representational (it looks like something a slob like me can recognize), but but human talent has stylized it in some way so that it has flare and beauty that wouldn't be apparent in a photograph of the same subject. If you're going to be perfectly exact and realistic, why not just use a camera?

27 posted on 05/10/2003 6:53:37 AM PDT by solzhenitsyn ("Live Not By Lies")
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To: jalisco555
It is not the need for art that has diminished, but the quality of art that is being shown. This is not because it is no longer being made. It is because a benighted view of art has a stranglehold on the few who choose what little art we are aloud to see. And the public acquiesce, because what else can they compare it with?

He could just have easily been writing about the news media in the US and UK.

28 posted on 05/10/2003 6:55:41 AM PDT by Incorrigible
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To: irish guard
Any help with the HTML would be appreciated.

<img src="http://graphics.jsonline.com/graphics/news/img/may03/muralbig050903.jpg" width="550" height="270"></p>

29 posted on 05/10/2003 6:57:38 AM PDT by Incorrigible
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To: wardaddy
I like some modern art, too. Here's the thing: regular ol' art, when it's bad, is just bad art. But when modern art is bad, it's not just bad art. It's an insult.
30 posted on 05/10/2003 6:57:47 AM PDT by Yardstick
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To: jalisco555
Being on the ignorant side when it comes to art, I looked up Rachel Whiteread’s House. I was surprised that it was actually interesting.



31 posted on 05/10/2003 6:58:59 AM PDT by gitmo ("The course of this conflict is not known, yet its outcome is certain." GWB)
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To: jalisco555
There is some place for “ought” in life, but none at all in art; art is a gift, not a duty.

I've always felt the same way. But seeing this declared by a curator makes me feel less conspicuous for not liking Impressionism, Opera and Jazz.

32 posted on 05/10/2003 7:01:44 AM PDT by AlbionGirl (A kite flies highest against the wind, not with it. - Winston Churchill)
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To: xJones
although he was wrong in 1975 in hoping that the hoax would be completely exposed by 2000.

Thank the NEA.

Becki

33 posted on 05/10/2003 7:02:14 AM PDT by Becki (Pray continually for our leaders and our troops!)
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To: solzhenitsyn
I own a copy of "Dog on a Bed"....it's in my oldest son's room.

My wife loves Wyeth. She has been to the galleries and just went a showing here in Nashville at Cheekwood.

It's ok to me but yes...Wyeth is more of an illustrator in my view...but with just enough texture to make him stand out.

Nah...I take that back...Wyeth inhabits the space between Illustrator and Artist actually. I'm envisioning his work in my mind's eye a bit more .

And yes...I am aware that today's illustrator may become recognized as an artist by history. Remington and particularly Russell are proof enough of that. I'm abit more familiar with that genre. Some are both...Homer for example. His Harper's work was obviously simple illustration but boy howdy would I like to own some...lol
34 posted on 05/10/2003 7:02:40 AM PDT by wardaddy (My dog turned to me and he said " Let's head back to Tennessee Jed!")
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To: irish guard
Here you go.

Walker pulls mural from Courthouse rotunda
http://www.jsonline.com/news/metro/may03/139774.asp

Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker on Friday directed that a newly hung mural depicting African-American struggles be taken down from the Courthouse's busy public rotunda and moved to a low-traffic area.

Not sure why yours didn't "auto-linkify".

Good job by the county exec. Local FReepers should send send him thank-you letters.
35 posted on 05/10/2003 7:03:23 AM PDT by FreedomPoster
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To: cibco
>>People, at first, thought they were looking at tornado damage...


I was one of them.
36 posted on 05/10/2003 7:04:02 AM PDT by FreedomPoster
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To: jalisco555

"Even Anti-Art is Art...That Is Why We Reject It"


37 posted on 05/10/2003 7:04:39 AM PDT by tuna_battle_slight_return
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To: wardaddy
Performance art is where the truly "out there" reside...IMHO.

I have a close friend who is a performance artist, and he's definitely "out there"....but not so far "out there" that he doesn't appreciate, and laugh at, the seltzer bottle qualities of his genre.
38 posted on 05/10/2003 7:08:22 AM PDT by mr.pink
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To: FreedomPoster
From Chuck Colson's breakpoint.org site,

Thx,
Joe

Art as Torture

BreakPoint with Charles Colson
February 7, 2003

Rejecting Christian Ideas of Beauty

The Spanish Civil War has often been called a "dress rehearsal" for World War II. Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin assisted both sides in the brutal conflict.
But there was one bit of brutality in that war that was completely homegrown: the use of modern art as a form of torture.

Jose Milicua, a Spanish art historian, recently uncovered evidence of what were called "colored cells," used by anarchist forces in Barcelona. The cells, inspired by the work of artists like Wassily Kandinsky and Salvador Dali, were employed in what their designer called "psychotechnic torture" of prisoners.

The cells' floors were arranged in a way that forced prisoners to stare at the walls. The walls were curved and utilized mind-altering geometric shapes, "color, perspective, and scale." Lighting created the illusion that the shapes were moving. This produced feelings of confusion, depression, and distress among the prisoners.

Spain's leading newspaper, El Pais, insisted that the creators of such "revolutionary and liberating [artistic] languages" as surrealism "could never have imagined that they would be so intrinsically linked to repression."

Maybe those artistic "revolutionaries" did not imagine their art could be used to torture, but the artists knew what they were doing. For surrealism and other kinds of modern art, shocking conventional sensibilities was an important, if not the most important, function of art. In their conception, art is supposed to confuse, disorient, and distress. And so what happened in the Spanish "colored cells" differed only in degree, not in kind, from what was happening in art galleries.

What's more, the artists, like the creators of the "colored cells," saw a connection between their creations and politics. Art can be a tool for transforming the larger culture.

Just about the only connection they did not draw was the one between art and beauty. That connection was severed when the West turned its back on the Christian tradition. And this connection is central to the Christian understanding of art.

When we see and appreciate beautiful things, we recognize that this beauty isn't an accident. We know that they are the product of an intelligence, the artist. And, what's more, that artist is the product of an even greater intelligence, the Creator of all.

This recognition is why Thomas Aquinas defined beauty as "that which, when seen, pleases." We are pleased when we see the beautiful because we recognize "God's good and orderly creation" in artistic efforts. We glimpse what C. S. Lewis called "joy," that is, a hint of paradise. It is the quality that distinguishes what we call "art," like painting or sculpture, from other human endeavors. And it is this quality of beauty that draws us to art.

Much of twentieth-century art is the story of a rebellion against "any hint of the sublime or beautiful rooted in creation." Is it any wonder that rejecting the tradition that taught us how to think and create—a tradition based on a Christian worldview—would produce ugliness? I have always contended that only a biblical view of life allows you to live rationally. And those Spanish prisoners driven mad by modern art would surely agree.
39 posted on 05/10/2003 7:09:03 AM PDT by Joe Republc
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To: wardaddy
Modern art functions like a prestigious wallpaper or fabric, making a colorful decorative statement. The appreciators draw their designers' palette from the paint (or whatever)--pulls the whole room together. The galleries are a social stomping ground for putting on conspicious display one's finer sensibilities. I do not know Kincaid or Doolittle-- rarely go to galleries because there's nothing beautiful to be seen in any I've tried. Or else they're hopelessly kitchy, like the Kincaid phenom.

The best art finds its way to the most prosaic of places--at least that's where I find it. Instruction books on painting techniques are galleries in themselves--I am particularly taken with the amazing things that can be accomplished with the very humble colored pencil.

Also, television commercials are often a feast of beauty...

40 posted on 05/10/2003 7:10:32 AM PDT by Mamzelle
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To: solzhenitsyn
Just out of curiosity, what's your opinion of Andrew Wyeth? Artist or illustrator?

Hey, you really want to take some heat? Just remark that Norman Rockwell was not an "artist" per se, but was simply an illusrator.Here, in New England, that could get you shot!

41 posted on 05/10/2003 7:11:27 AM PDT by PaulJ
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To: xJones
the artists proceeded by averting their eyes from whatever their predecessors, from da Vinci on, had discovered, shrinking from it, terrified,...

It's probably natural to shrink from such divine and awesome talent as da Vinci and Michelangelo, they're the Jefferson, and Franklin of the Art sphere, but still van Gogh didn't shrink from it, Andrew Wyeth doesn't appear to have either. Beauty matters no matter what the nihilists say.

42 posted on 05/10/2003 7:12:02 AM PDT by AlbionGirl (A kite flies highest against the wind, not with it. - Winston Churchill)
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To: wardaddy
Redux-wait

You mean Thomas Kincaid? Thought you were referring to someone else, then I proceeded to include his name in my own reference.

That's greeting-card stuff. Can't stand it. But how're the good artists to rise beyond the tyranny of the Emporer's New Art?

43 posted on 05/10/2003 7:12:33 AM PDT by Mamzelle
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To: jalisco555
bump for later
44 posted on 05/10/2003 7:13:32 AM PDT by Ditter
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To: jalisco555
Bump for later
45 posted on 05/10/2003 7:14:05 AM PDT by Richard Kimball
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To: wardaddy
A big problem with canvas "art" today is that are too many illustrators posing as artists.

Thank you for saying that. There is a difference, and while I might not be able to describe it in words, my eyes can sure tell.

There are those that can capture the essence of a subject, whther that be by photography, oil, watercolor, charcoal or ink, and those are the artists.

There is another group, that can faithfully follow a mechanical process, and those are mere illustrators.

46 posted on 05/10/2003 7:15:36 AM PDT by Chancellor Palpatine
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To: MWS
I can't stand modern art. I am of the philosophy that good art really ought to objectively represent something- an idea, an emotion, an object, etc. Modern art is all about subjectivism. It is reflective of the emergence of relativism as the mainstream philosophy, which strikes me as dangerous.

What he said... I think the greatest artist of this century was Norman Rockwell..He not only painted a beautiful picture but it always told a story that anyone could understand.

47 posted on 05/10/2003 7:18:27 AM PDT by my right
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To: solzhenitsyn
Because even a camera can be used artistically in the right hands (Ansel Adams comes to mind here). Capturing the right light, the right look, making the right composition at just the right moment makes the purveyor of any visual representation a true artist, as opposed to the recorder of detail.
48 posted on 05/10/2003 7:18:37 AM PDT by Chancellor Palpatine
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To: FreedomPoster
"I was one of them."

I guess we are "art ignorant".

49 posted on 05/10/2003 7:19:55 AM PDT by cibco (Xin Loi... Saddam)
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To: Incorrigible
My verdict is official - that one is just crap. Whoever did it has a little skill as an illustrator, but is not an artist.
50 posted on 05/10/2003 7:20:04 AM PDT by Chancellor Palpatine
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